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World-famous exorcist dies at age 91 - here's his story

Posted September 27

A world-famous priest who served as one of Rome's most sought after exorcists for more than 30 years has died.

The Rev. Gabriele Amorth, who passed away at age 91, is said to have performed thousands of exorcisms, but reportedly only faced what he said were true demonic possessions around 100 times throughout his career.

Some reports said, though, that the Rev. Amorth had conducted some 70,000 exorcisms, with the number so high due, in part, to the fact that priests sometimes do the rite more than one time on any given person.

The Rev. Amorth was ordained in 1951 and became the exorcist for the Roman diocese in 1985. The priest was also a founding member of the International Association of Exorcists, an exclusive organization of exorcists.

He was highly sought out over the years as a source to explain the theology of good and evil, among other themes, The National Catholic Register reported.

The priest said at a conference last year that he believes there are two spiritual realms — the "holy spirit" and the "demonic spirit" and that the latter shields itself as it wreaks havoc by permeating culture, faith and politics.

The Rev. Amorth made it his life's work to combat this latter paradigm.

In addition to performing exorcisms, the Rev. Amorth was known for speaking out about world events while filtering them through a spiritual lens. He reportedly penned an April 2015 Facebook post proclaiming that "ISIS is Satan," while attempting to explain the actions taken by the radical terror group.

"Things first happen in the spiritual realms, then they are made concrete on this earth," the Rev. Amorth wrote.

He continued, "Evil is disguised in various ways: political, religious, cultural, and it has one source of inspiration: the devil. As a Christian I fight the beast spiritually."

He has also taken aim at Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin in the past, saying in 2006 that he believed both were heavily influenced by Satan; he also said groups of people can become possessed.

"I am convinced that the Nazis were possessed by the devil," he told Vatican Radio at the time. "If one thinks of what was committed by people like Stalin or Hitler, certainly they were possessed by the devil."

The priest said the evidence for such an assertion was rooted in the behaviors and actions taken by Hitler and Stalin.

The Rev. Amorth's comments sparked some controversy among those who felt he was diminishing personal responsibility for people like Hitler and Stalin, though he later clarified that he believed "they have full responsibility for their actions," but that "they have (willingly) followed the promptings of the devil."

In more recent years, the priest took aim at divorce and abortion, calling both "a disaster," while also speaking out against euthanasia and cohabitation, dubbing both as "destruction." He was also no fan of yoga and Harry Potter books, warning that he believed both could usher in various evils.

Exorcisms and claims of demonic possession have sparked a plethora of questions and curiosities throughout the millennia, with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops recently issuing a "frequently asked questions" section on the group's website to help people navigate the complex theological dynamics at play.

The website frames an exorcism as "a specific form of prayer that the (Catholic) Church uses against the power of the devil."

"There are instances when a person needs to be protected against the power of the devil or to be withdrawn from his spiritual dominion," the text explains. "At such times, the Church asks publicly and authoritatively in the name of Jesus Christ for this protection or liberation through the use of exorcism."

Priests use a rite of exorcism that is reportedly 84 pages in length and was first compiled in 1614, according to The Christian Post. The document was updated in 1999, nearly 400 years after it was first issued.

The Rev. Amorth suffered from respiratory and circulation problems, according to reports.

Email: bhallowell@deseretnews.com Twitter: billyhallowell Facebook: facebook.com/billyhallowell

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