Why Do People Take Fr. Gabriele Amorth Seriously?

Now the guy is spouting off about Masons Controlling the World and waving his hands about some conspiracy to rub him out as they (allegedly) rubbed out JPI.

And, come on, 70,000 exorcisms?

Jimmy Akin has done the autopsy on this guy’s extremely dubious claims.

Please: exercise discernment with these Folk Heroes.

  • michael

    I doubt this preist but do not doubt that the masons want the pope dead. The masons want the church and all its members dead. All one needs.to do is study their history. Likr the French revolution or Mexico and Portugal in the early 1900′s.

  • The Next to Last Samurai

    Could it be possible that Fr. Amorth is senile?

    • Mark Shea

      Could be. My question is more directed toward those who have, for years, treated him as an Authoritative Folk Hero.

  • Doug

    The power of my publicist compels you!!

  • Andrew

    Mark,

    I’ve read and heard TONS of things about the freemasons in regards to The Church, The Pope and this idea of “controlling the world”. So much so that I no longer simply dismiss the claim as being ridiculous. I am, however, skeptical about how true all of what I hear is.

    Can you post about this concept/controversy? Not just a background on them, but rather their well-known hatred (and mission to destroy) The Church? I’d like to hear what you have to say about all of it.

    • Mark Shea

      I’m the wrong guy. I have a congenital allergy to conspiracy theorizing.

  • Scott W.

    JPI not, II. A conspiracy to rub out JPI is nutty. A conspiracy to rub out JPII is (nutty)10^3.

    However, we should give him a break on the 70,000 exorcisms thing. He repeatedly reminds people that the most powerful exorcism is the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Now, maybe we can fault him for counting his confessions as exorcisms, but it is not hard to imagine an aged priest having heard 70k confessions in a lifetime.

    • Stu

      I don’t now what the truth here is but I also am of the impression that when someone is possessed, there are multiple demons present. If one were to count each demon displaced as an “exorcism” then the numbers go up a bit quicker.

      As to the Masons, I’m not a big conspiracy guy but I don’t trust them one bit. Wasn’t long ago that they fueled the killing of Catholics by a government just south of our border.

  • ivan_the_mad

    BECAUSE HE HAS ALL THE GNOSIS, YOU IGNORAMUS!!!

    • SouthCoast

      Ha! All you gnosis belong us!

  • Pete Vere

    Given his age and the difficult ministry he performed faithfully all these years, it is possible that Fr. Amorth’s mental faculties are weakening with age. The other thing one must remember is that Fr. Amorth is Italian. Having grown up among Italian Catholics in a parish that was half Italian and half Irish, and having spent the first part of my ministry as a canonist mentoring under three widely-respected Italian-American canonists, the first lesson one learns when communicating with Italian Catholics is to always take into account a 30 percent exaggeration factor. Most Italians and cradle Catholics from Europe – the audience where Fr. Amorth writes and speaks – would assume this exaggeration factor when interpreting his comments. On the other hand, I find that native English speakers – especially those who convert from Protestantism – tend to speak much more soberly and literally.

    Back when I was doing the Catholic apologetics/speakers circuit, I recall being at one event with two other speakers of Italian Catholic ancestry, as well as a fourth person of Irish-American fundamentalist Protestant background who had recently converted to Catholicism. Of course we grabbed supper together and between good food and wine, the Italian culture took over as we shared experiences in ministry, speaking and apologetics. Suddenly our convert blurted out, in response to one story a colleague was sharing: “Are you serious!? That literally happened!?”

    At that point the rest of us looked at each other, laughed, and explained to our recent convert from fundamentalism that Italian Catholic culture permitted a certain exaggeration factor in conversation.

    • http://commonsensecatholicism.blogspot.com Kevin

      Don’t do that Pete. You are reading people charitably and not looking for the first way to mock them. Such fairness isn’t the place for internet comboxes!

  • Laura Lowder

    One of the things I observed, a couple of years ago, when a Spanish exorcist was visiting our area, is that in Europe, they appear to count it as an Exorcism if they pray the ordinary exorcism prayers that, say, we find in the baptismal rite. This is an EXTREMELY misleading distinction, and Americans, who tend to love sensationalism and are extremely gullible, don’t know the difference. Amorth’s actual encounters with the diabolical? Following the full Rite of Exorcism from the Ritual? not nearly so many, obviously; he wouldn’t have time for them all.

    • Stu

      I think your point and that of Pete’s above, demonstrate that as Americans we can often be rather insulated here in our own little part of the world.

      • Pete Vere

        I love Americans (I fathered two of them) and hope my comments did not in any way come across as anti-American. American Catholics have made many valuable contributions to Catholicism over the past few decades – catechesis, apologetics, the moderation and mainstreaming of the Traditionalist movement, and conservative resistance to the theological liberalism that infected much of Canada and Eastern Europe after the Second Vatican Council. So American Catholics – both cradle and convert – have much to be proud of when it comes to contributing to the universal Church.

        I guess my point is that while we are all one Church, we are also a communion of different cultures who often view and interpret things differently. An example shared by one of my canon law professors back when I was engaged in licentiate studies concerned the Italian bishops being housed with the Irish bishops at either the First or Second Vatican Council. At the time, canon law was much more strict about the Eucharistic fast, prohibiting the consumption of food for (I believe) twelve hours before Mass.

        Irish Catholics interpreted this law so strictly that one was not permitted to wet one’s toothbrush while brushing one’s teeth before Mass, nor to wash one’s mouth out afterward, less one accidentally swallow a drop of water and break the Eucharistic fast. Thus the Irish bishops were scandalized the first morning when they came downstairs for Mass, passed through the dining room, and saw the Italian bishops sipping coffee and munching away on bowls of cereal before Mass. The lead Irish bishop asked the lead Italian bishop present how he and his fellow countrymen could so blatantly disregard the Church’s law on such an important matter.

        To which the Italian bishop picked up his spoon, stabbed it in the middle of the cereal bowl, and let it fall over. “See, it doesn’t stick,” he said. “It’s not really food.”

        One Church, one canon, two cultures.

        • Pete Vere

          Correction to my post above: I intended to say Americans have provided us with conservative resistance to theological liberalism that had infected Canada and WESTERN Europe after the Second Vatican Council. My apologies to our Eastern European brothers and sisters who held to the faith despite heavy communist persecution.

        • Stu

          I didn’t mean to imply that your comments were negative in any way. I think they just reflect some reality. I have been afforded the opportunity to “see the World” and experience many different cultures. And because of that AND as an American, I believe we are sometimes a bit insulated on how other cultures operate or see things. It is what it is and I still love my country.

        • Stu

          “See, it doesn’t stick,” he said. “It’s not really food.”
          ———————
          LMAO. This reminds me of some discussions I witnessed while assigned to NATO. Quite amusing.

        • Jon W

          Irish Catholics interpreted this law so strictly that one was not permitted to wet one’s toothbrush while brushing one’s teeth before Mass, nor to wash one’s mouth out afterward, less one accidentally swallow a drop of water and break the Eucharistic fast.

          No wonder there’s so much crazy in the American church. I feel like half the cradles I run into are either worrying about this or reacting strongly against it. So much wasted piety….

  • kenneth

    Amorth is a hustler and recruiter for his own personality cult, a five-star looner. He is part of a conspiracy, fear and hate movement (satanic panic), that has helped put a lot of innocent people in prison.

    • Mark Shea

      Documentation please?

      • Rosemarie

        +J.M.J+

        I think he’s referring to the “satanic panic” of the 1980s, when people were claiming to have “recovered” memories of childhood satanic ritual abuse. This was before a lot of that was debunked as the result of false memory syndrome. As an Evangelical back then I remember some of the fear and paranoia associated with it. We were given the impression that satanists were everywhere, consuming human blood, urine and feces in mock communion at Black Masses, sacrificing puppies, kittens, even human babies if available (or murdering children and adults as sacrifices to the devil), and, of course, molesting children as part of their dark rituals. They got away with all that because they had (allegedly) carefully placed satanists in police departments, courthouses, etc. who covered everything up. Remember the now-discredited Mike Warnke? Or Geraldo Rivera’s satanism “expose” (my youth group watched the over a church member’s house that night)?

        The innocent people put in prison would have to do with things like the McMartin preschool case, I guess. I could be wrong, but I think Kenneth is saying that Fr. Amorth’s sensationalism is apiece with the satanic panic sensationalism which hurt many falsely-accused innocent people.

      • kenneth

        Amorth is part of the industry that sells “satanic panic” to the public and to law enforcement. Although the narrative of widespread satanic ritual abuse has never been backed by any fact, the hysteria has led to well-documented abuses. The West Memphis Three, the cases in the 1980s where day care operators were given centuries of prison time and later had their convictions overturned. The clown of a prosecutor in the Amanda Knox case was a satanic panic believer. Others had their lives disrupted for years and their careers destroyed by long-running prosecutions that fizzled out.

        Whatever his personal share of responsibility in this, Amorth is contributing to rhetoric that is as dangerous and reckless as that of any hate group. He makes a living selling fear and hysteria and lies that destroy people’s lives. That, in my book, places him very near the lowest order of bottom feeders of humanity.

        • Mark Shea

          You keep saying that. Documentation please? Specifically, documentation of Amorth’s involvement in any of the cases you mention. Also, how does he financially profit? Specifically.

          • Rosemarie

            +J.M.J+

            He doesn’t seem to be saying that Fr. Amorth is involved in the cases mentioned or profits from them. He’s arguing that Amorth is part of the industry that gins up hysteria over alleged satanic crimes. The same hysteria which, in the past, has led to innocent people being accused and even convicted of horrific offenses.

            I can understand why Neo-pagans might be especially upset over satanic panic. Wiccans and such are often mistakenly considered satanists (when in fact they don’t believe in the devil). This would make them potential prime targets of charges of satanic ritual abuse.

          • kenneth

            Of course he profits from this. He’s written two books that capitalize on his self-made legend about himself, and if there’s anything at all to the hype, they were reasonably good sellers. I don’t know if that made him rich, but it certainly put some money in his pockets, and I see nothing to indicate that he has a vow of poverty or that he donated all of his earnings to the poor.

            He certainly profits handsomely in the form of attention and ego-feeding. For decades, Gabrielle Amorth has been the head of an industry promoting Gabrielle Amorth as the lone avenger, the last true heart against Satan, who has infested even the top levels of the Vatican! He is a voracious self-promoter who keeps himself in headlines at least once a year with some outlandish claim or another, every last one of them clearly calculated to up the scope of humanity’s danger and his role in holding the line. The Gabrielle Amorth produced for public consumption is an absolutely epic character. He makes Ernest Hemingway, Walter Mitty and the Dos Equis Man look like positively small men. Achilles and Aragorn are sissies next to Amorth.

            He’s also very big on peddling the folk hero narrative that he and his select followers are the only true discerners of good. He hasn’t openly flouted the authority of his superiors, but he was shilling for Medjugorje, and may still be for all I know. Whether for money or the currency of hero worship or both, this guy is clearly in it for himself, not for altruism or humility of any kind.

            Can I draw a straight line between Amorth and a specific miscarriage of justice? No, but that’s true of most inciters of hate and panic rhetoric, whether racial, religious or political. Smart extremists are very good at dangling this stuff out there, offering moral justifications for extreme acts and the implicit statement that “you all are under existential threat. Someone needs to do SOMETHING.”
            When that something crosses a line of law or decency, they deny any responsibility.

            Amorth is probably a relatively minor figure in the American Satanic Ritual Abuse industry, which has historically been driven by evangelicals. Amorth has almost certainly contributed significantly to the satanic panic narrative in Italy, in which conspiracy theorists allege (but never prove) enormous networks of cultists. The Knox prosecutor hasn’t directly cited Amorth as a source for his own nutty theories, but they line up very closely with those of Amorth, including the obsession with Freemasons.

            Am I especially offended by SRA hustlers like Amorth? To a degree. We’ve come in for our share of harassment because of the “spiritual warfare” crowd, but the vast majority of those crushed under its wheels were not Wiccan or pagan. They were mostly the weakest and most socially marginal of our society: the poor, the mentally ill, the emotionally troubled teens who everyone loved to hate. Many others were regular hardworking folks of mainstream religious or secular leanings, as ordinary as any of you.

            • Rosemarie

              +J.M.J+

              And that’s often what happens; the first and main victims of witch hunts or other forms of scapegoating tend to be the weak and socially marginal.

            • Kirt Higdon

              Looks like the Italians are going to take another shot at Knox and her ex-boyfriend. I wonder if the same nutty satanic panic prosecuter will get the case again. He was also involved in the “monster of Florence” case and I think convicted of some sort of misconduct in that one.

            • Mark Shea

              He’s written two books that capitalize on his self-made legend about himself, and if there’s anything at all to the hype, they were reasonably good sellers

              a) If you think Catholic publishing is the key to riches, you need to learn more about Catholic publishing.
              b) I know any number of priests who turn their profits over to charity. So: please document your accusation that he is actually profiting.

              I take him for an old man who is given to fabulism and to a some sincere paranoia. He’s never struck me as a hustler.

              • kenneth

                Unless somebody secures me subpeona powers in Italy or unless Fr. Amorth chooses to release his financials, I can’t say exactly what his books netted him, nor is it even central to what I’m saying. There’s no reason to think he’s making J.K. Rowling money, but nor is there any indication that he’s doing it as a break-even labor of love or giving his loot away. This is not a guy that ever, ever misses a chance to lionize himself, and I’m very sure that we would have heard many times over if he were doing some great charitable work with his earnings. His first book is reported to have gone through 17 printings and a bunch of editions, and led to the publication of a sequel. It’s fair to assume that’s at least a qualified success in publishing

                What Amorth does is vile and irresponsible and it contributes, in some measure, to real harm in the world. That is true whether he earns millions or whether his royalty check just bought him a nice fly fishing trip or whether he subsidizes the whole thing with his salary and credit card debt. As I say, profit isn’t always about dollars or euro. For an egomaniac, attention and building one’s own legend is a currency sweeter than cash, and in that sort of economy, Amorth has been raking it in for decades.

                Like all celebrities, he feeds on attention. The money is secondary, at best. We see that with A-list actors who struggle to keep their mug on the cover decades after they’ve earned hundreds of millions. We see it in guys like Donald Trump, and at the other end, we see white trash “reality TV” contestants debase themselves for no real money in order to get the attention paycheck. In the celebrity game, “fabulism” is another word for hustler.

                The notion that he is just a kindly old man who may be slipping a gear is very charitable, but it fails to explain his lust for the limelight over nearly 30 years as The Greatest Demon Hunter of All Time. If anyone thinks this is a priest with a healthy relationship toward celebrity, compare his media seeking behavior to any credible estimate of anything he’s really done. Now contrast that with the new pope, who has just about the highest natural media profile on the planet, and yet has worked tirelessly to deflect the attention away from himself and onto the work.

                • Mark Shea

                  In other words, you don’t know what you are talking about.

                  • kenneth

                    Yes, you’re right. Gabrielle Amorth is everything he says he is, and more. He is a model priest, the most humble of God’s servants, and quite likely a saint in the making. I don’t know how I could have failed to see that. It must have been the demons speaking through me. I shall go to him straight away and become his 70,001st success. I shall also pray that Jimmy Akin and any other critics who may have questioned Fr. Amorth’s motives or the veracity of his claims in any way. His strong hand may yet be the only thing that saves the Holy Father from the Masons….

                    • Mark Shea

                      You seem to be forgetting that I’m the one who wrote the post questioning his dubious claims. I’m simply skeptical of *your* certitude that he makes such claim out of a desire for profits. To me, he comes across, not as a con artist, but as a garrulous braggart and a bit of a paranoid. You, on the other hand, come across as out for blood.

                    • kenneth

                      Maybe it’s more accurate to say that my certitude is that he’s doing what he does largely out of a desire for self-promotion and megalomania. He may or may not have aimed for big financial gain from that, and he may or may not have actually achieved such gain if he aimed for it. Either way, I don’t happen to think that peddling hate and fear for self-aggrandizement is any more noble or less cynical a motive than doing it for money.

                      Out for blood? Perhaps that’s fair. I don’t have any respect or much forbearance for people who prey on the fears and ignorance of others for their own gain, when they clearly know better or have the capacity to know better. I don’t respect it in ruling class politicians who manipulate our hopes and fears. I don’t respect it in people who inflame ethnic or racial or religious tensions (or civil war fantasies) to their own ends, and I don’t respect it in men like Amorth. The same also goes for people within my own faith community who are hustlers and inciters, and we’ve had our share.

  • Mark S. (not for Shea)

    There was a charismatic church where I grew up where the congregants would regularly stand on main street and “cast demons” out of passing cars. This group was also convinced that owls had demons, as did most salt and pepper shakers. Or maybe it was only owl-shaped salt and pepper shakers. I can’t remember.

    Anyway, if you stand on a street corner and cast demons out of every passing car several days a week for a whole year, you could probably get to 70,000. Maybe that’s his standard of measurement?

    • SouthCoast

      Interesting! I did not realize that animism was alive and well in this country!

      • Mark S. (not for Shea)

        Oh, yes. The very first “Full Gospel” (charismatic) church my parents attended, the pastor’s wife told my mom that her sons had to get rid of all their Batman posters, because demons could hide in them.

        • Rosemarie

          +J.M.J+

          Circa 1989, I was in a car with some fellow Evangelicals coming home from a worship service. We drove past a comic book store which had a life-size cardboard cutout outside of Michael Keaton’s Batman from the recently-released “Batman” movie. One of the ladies in the car suddenly started rebuking that cardboard cutout and praying against it in “tongues.” She then said that she had heard that the movie was the “darkest” Batman movie ever. I didn’t say anything, but I kinda thought she was misinterpreting the word “dark” in that context.

          • http://janalynmarie.blogspot.com Beadgirl

            Ha! I hope she didn’t see Nolan’s The Dark Knight.

          • Jon W

            Someone ought to have told her not to worry, that Tim Burton is more goofily optimistic than the Care Bears. His movies are about as dark as cotton candy and sunshine.

            • Rosemarie

              +J.M.J+

              Jon W: Yeah, I just figured “dark” meant more serious, tinged with tragedy, not as comical as the campy 1960s sitcom that most people probably associated with the Batman legend. Not “demonic,” though, as that lady interpreted it. Just a departure from the last Batman movie before it which starred Adam West (“Some days, you just can’t get rid of a bomb!” ).

              Beadgirl: Heh. Yeah.

    • Stu

      I’m quite convinced that most GM vehicles are in fact infested with demons.

  • Donna

    Fr. Amorth has two books published by Ignatius Press. I’m guessing that works in his favor, as many, possibly most, Ignatius Press offerings are solid.

  • jcb

    I can’t tell if Doug or Ivan win the thread, but definitely one of them.

  • http://www.pilgrimage.subcreators.com Lori Pieper

    I’ve published this link before, but it seems like a good time to do it again:

    http://subcreators.com/blog/investigation-of-the-death-of-pope-john-paul-i/

    The first two parts contain a lot about the background of the “Masonic conspiracy theory” and how it got started.

  • EdL

    The masons are everywhere, and they’re very crafty. It behooves all of us to learn how to spot them:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ddM7kJ9xQfA

  • Mr W

    Regarding the Batman stuff, the first thing you do when you’re faced with a potential spiritual evil is to demystify it if at all possible – that’s how the pagan gods lost their power, after all. You can easily demystify what evil there is in Batman by pointing out it is merely another iteration of the American Myth of Redemptive Violence – i.e. all problems are solved by the application of a sock on the jaw. To start talking about demons and stuff just further tangles up the problematic aspects in a superstitious clouding of the intellect. We can tackle the evils of cultural products that glorify violence without falling into the mythic thinking that lets them get away with it in the first place.

  • Rosemarie

    +J.M.J+

    >>>all problems are solved by the application of a sock on the jaw.

    Pow! Whap! Biff!

    (sorry, couldn’t resist)

    But yeah, you’re absolutely right. Mystifying evil like that does prevent us from dealing with it effectively. It may lead people of faith to apply the wrong “remedy” (like “praying against the demons”) which not only won’t help much but will open them up to ridicule. OTOH, a cogent argument as to what’s wrong with “dark” or violent entertainment might at least make people stop and think.

  • Dolorosa

    You are one of the blind leading the blind into Hell. You need to read Poncin’s books on the Freemasons. He was a brilliant man and you need to be educated. If you need an exorcism, Deo Gratias that Father uses the old rite in Latin which is much stronger against the devil then the new one.

  • http://ilfuoconecessario.wordpress.com Paolo

    I know, as roman catholic, living in Rome, both personally and the large mediatic contribute of Fr. Amorth. I can undoubtedly assure all readers that he is a holy priest, and that the enemy is at the other side!

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=517479384 Scott E. Starr

      Amen!

  • yoda cow

    It depends on how you define exorcism. If you are thinking of exorcisms as in MOVIE ENTERTAINMENT exorcisms, 70K is comical. Exorcisms can range from simple blessings, minor to full blown cases (very rare). Typically, as a known exorcist, you might have about 20 people lining up to see you in a day(with all sorts of problems, spiritual, mental, pyschological) asking for “exorcisms” because they sincerely believe they are afflicted. Multiply that by 365 days (just for the sake of calculations) and you have 7300 in a year. Not sure how many years he has been in this role but as you can see, 70K is not a real big deal. Also, some exorcisms are not one-off cases.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=517479384 Scott E. Starr

    As far as I am concerned Jimmy Akin is an imbecile and Amorth is far closer to the truth than he is. Jimmy Akin…. pffft.

    • chezami

      Sound argument. “Jimmy Akin is stoopid”. Who can argue with such an impressive marshalling of facts?


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