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Vatican exorcist: Satan responsible for scandals

The Vatican’s chief exorcist says the Devil is lurking in the very heart of the Roman Catholic Church, the Telegraph of London reports.

The Rev. Gabriele Amorth told La Repubblica newspaper in Rome that church sex abuse scandals in the United States, Ireland, Germany and other countries and the Christmas Eve assault on Pope Benedict XVI by a mentally unstable woman were proof that the Anti-Christ was waging a war against the Holy See, Telegraph correspondent Nick Squires writes:

"The Devil resides in the Vatican and you can see the consequences," said Father Amorth, 85, who has been the Holy See's chief exorcist for 25 years.

"He can remain hidden, or speak in different languages, or even appear to be sympathetic. At times he makes fun of me. But I'm a man who is happy in his work."

While there was "resistance and mistrust" towards the concept of exorcism among some Catholics, Pope Benedict XVI has no such doubts, Father Amorth said. "His Holiness believes wholeheartedly in the practice of exorcism. He has encouraged and praised our work," he added.

The evil influence of Satan was evident in the highest ranks of the Catholic hierarchy, with "cardinals who do not believe in Jesus and bishops who are linked to the demon," Father Amorth said.

Amorth also says that the 1973 horror classic The Exorcist gave a "substantially exact" impression of what it was like to be possessed by the Devil, Squires writes:

People possessed by evil sometimes had to be physically restrained by half a dozen people while they were exorcised. They would scream, utter blasphemies and spit out sharp objects, he said.

"From their mouths, anything can come out – pieces of iron as long as a finger, but also rose petals," said Father Amorth, who claims to have performed 70,000 exorcisms. "When the possessed dribble and slobber, and need cleaning up, I do that too. Seeing people vomit doesn't bother me. The exorcist has one principal duty – to free human beings from the fear of the Devil."

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