Fr. Gabriele Amorth makes a sensational claim

Fr. Gabriele Amorth makes a sensational claim May 23, 2012

A teenage girl whose disappearance in Rome has remained a mystery for 30 years was kidnapped for sex parties by a gang involving Vatican police and foreign diplomats, the Roman Catholic Church’s leading exorcist has claimed.

This is red meat for the media, of course. And given what has come out over the past ten years it cannot, alas, be automatically ruled out as impossible.

Nonetheless, it should also be noted that Fr. Amorth is one of the most unstable and unreliable personalities it has ever been the misfortune of the Church to see elevated to the status of Folk Hero. Jimmy Akin has documented some of Fr. Amorth’s impossible to believe declarations. In addition, he has made reckless pronouncements about everything from Harry Potter to Medjugorje, thereby endearing himself to people in need of another Conservative Folk Hero.

With this latest reckless claim, Fr. Amorth simultaneously manages to titillate the God-hating, anti-Catholic English press *and* Traditionalist-minded Catholics who eagerly want to believe the worst about the post-conciliar Church.

The problem: where’s the beef? What’s the evidence? How does he know? Why should we believe him, given his track record of demonstrably and documentably false pronouncements? Indeed, what evidence do we have for most of what Fr. Amorth says about anything? The elevation of this man to Reliable Inside Source is one of the more mysterious phenomena in Conservative Catholic circles. Without evidence or proof of any kind, all we have is one more sensational claim by a man with a long history of baseless sensational claims. Get back to me when there is some There there. If his claim is vindicated by evidence, I’ll take him seriously. If, however, he provides no evidence for his claim or, worse still, evidence is found to disprove his claim, I think the sensible thing is to stop paying attention to him or taking him as a serious source of information or guidance. And I think his history up till now is such that we should take this claim with a huge grain of salt.

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  • Michelle

    I wish someone would explain to Fr. Amorth that he should shut up.

    • Mark Shea

      Slight correction: He should shut up *if he has no evidence*. If he does have evidence, well then, where the hell has he been since 1983?

      • Michelle

        True enough. I was speaking in the context of Fr. Amorth’s overrarching history of making sensational claims without evidence.

        • Mark Shea

          As long as people eat it up as either fodder for UK Rome bashing or True Dish from a Conservative Catholic Folk Hero Trying to Save the Church from the Shadowy Liberal Conspiracy in the Vatican, he has no reason to shut up.

    • Ted Seeber

      I have a man much like Fr. Amorth in my Knights Council. I’ve yet to hold a meeting where he hasn’t demanded the floor, then gone on to link abortion to communist plots and marianist prophecy, often at length. Due to him I’m going to institute rules about length of speeches at our meetings. And he’s also over 80. What is it about Memento Mori, the approaching of physical death, that inspires such pious lunacy?

      • Uh-oh. I’m afraid I might know that guy. Probably there’s just a lot of guys like that, though.

      • Peggy Hagen

        Is it his age, or the age and culture in which he grew up? Freemasons, the Reds, Fatima-and-Russia…wonder what our thoroughly dated conspiracy theories will involve?

  • Non Nomen

    He needs to be forbidden from that ministry. Now. For his own sake, never mind that of the people trusting themselves to him. Where are those claims of his originating?

    • Mark Shea

      Who knows? He gives us no evidence. He just brandishes his (mysteriously easily accepted) credentials and a major UK paper takes him seriously. Within a few days, the American press will say “Look! A major UK paper takes him seriously! This must have some traction or people with English accents would not take it seriously! I mean, come on, English accents mean they are smarter than we are!” It’s amazing how American feel inferior in the presence of an English accent.

      • LOL. The old calculus goes, “British accent, add 20 IQ points. Southern accent, subtract 20 IQ points.”

      • Non Nomen

        Whether he gets press attention or not isn’t as concerning as the fact that a man as wildly imaginative as that is permitted to perform exorcisms. Just – no.

  • Thanks, Mark. Few people in the US are aware of this story. Frankly, I didn’t even know about it until you pointed it out with this post. So here’s my question–if you think Fr. Amorth is providing the media with red meat, how does a post which calls additional attention to the sensational claims not provide the same “service”?

    • Mark Shea

      By pointing out the gaps in the coverage, explaining who Amorth is and his track record for reliability, and making clear how baseless the whole thing is, of course. Or would you prefer it just hop the Pond, unchallenged, when the American media notices the story and panics about it?

  • Richard C.

    Save the headline of this blog post for reuse, Mark. It becomes valid 2-3 times a year.

  • Well, you could hold your fire until it does hop the pond. By addressing it now, when all that’s known are the sensational claims in the Catholic-hating UK media, it’s not really helping matters, particularly when you barely discuss the accusations but use them to make an ad hominem attack on Fr. Amorth. And I say this as someone who’s not particularly a fan of the good Father.

    • Mark Shea

      I prefer to get out in front of such stories rather than come limping behind. A rumor goes around the world while the truth is still putting its pants on.

      • Art

        I like it! Call your brother a spade before the enemy does! All with great intentions of course. I read an article how more often in this day and age people base their opinions on emotions and favoritism as opposed to being objective and fair. How much better would the world be if we were all a little more objective and fair instead of picking sides and sticking to that side?

        When the truth finally comes out the person that picked the side of false allegations looks redonkulous! Thank you Mark for being objective!

        • Mark Shea

          I didn’t call him a spade. I *documented* the fact that he has a long history of unreliable statements and *documented* the fact that this particular statement, in addition to being sensational and scandalous has no evidence for it whatsoever. It’s fascinating that you are more troubled by the documented fact than by the utterly baseless and evidence-free scandalous assertion.

          • Art

            Easy tiger! I was actually in agreement with you. I am not troubled by the documented facts at all nor do I side with the “utterly baseless and evidence free scandalous assertion”. Sorry if my post seemed like sarcasm, it was not. Reread my post.

            • Mark Shea

              Sorry. I’ve gotten a lot of flack lately. My apologies.

              • Art

                I reread my post and you know…. I could have worded it differently where it did not sound sarcastic, so my apologies as well Mark. I appreciate the hard work you do, you are a good man!

                My language sounds different in person compared to forums.

                GOD BLESS BROTHER!

                • Art

                  I know I don’t have to do this, but I feel obligated to explain my agreement with you in a better way.

                  You are calling a spade a spade in regards to the documented facts. It is wise to do this because we are Catholic, and it shows we are objective. You did this with great intentions, not to belittle him or bear false witness, but to make stronger that what somebody says or does as a Catholic does not necessarily represent the whole of our faith, as the public will lambast and say “SEE, THOSE CRAZY CATHOLIC NUTS!!!” They do that anyways with the truths that we hold dear, but it gives them more ammunition when something like this is stated as matter of fact by Fr. Amorth and not necessarily by objective fact.

                  My point about favoritism and picking sides is in regards to those who already have ill opinion of the Church and they will not be fair and objective like you were in your analysis.

                  When the truth comes out, like you stated in regards to the facts, people will ignore what you said and stick with their guns and object rightly against what Fr. Amorth has stated, but object wrongly by coupling him with the infallibility of the Church.

                  This is why I thank you for being objective. I hope that was a little better. 🙂

  • Spastic Hedgehog

    His bishop must have his hands full.

    Please read all of my posts in an English accent from now on, preferably not Cockney.

  • thomas tucker

    Too bad Malachi Martin’s not around to write a book about it.
    I have to say, the Black Sheepdog was just the latest in a long line of famous and influential kooks in the priesthood.

  • Les

    the worst thing he seems to have done, is speculate.. if he has no proof.

    • Ted Seeber

      Which is bad enough when you’re talking about a sex and kidnapping and murder plot.

  • kenneth

    I’m pretty sure Amorth, and Voris, are Sacha Baron Cohn characters….

  • Mark–I retract my previous criticism. This story has now appeared on Huffington Post so you did well to get out in front of it. Re-reading the details, I don’t really see how Fr. Amorth’s words, as quoted, back up the headline. I’m sure there’s more to this story than the Telegraph is giving us. Someone who can should translate this article form La Stampa here:

    • Spastic Hedgehog

      It looks like it says the same thing. Prosecutors suspect that the rector/former rector of the basilica of St. Apollinarus was somehow complicit in the abduction. Testimony connected to his complicity led police to the grave of a mafia boss where the girl was suspected to be buried. They found a pile of bones most dating to the 19th century but are running tests to see if they belong to the girl who is missing. I guess the rector had run ins with the mafia before.

  • brian_in_brooklyn

    Yeah, I just read the HuffPo piece. Wow, that’s what passes for journalism these days?

  • Kirt Higdon

    Dan Brown, call your office. You’ve just been handed the plot for your next best seller.

  • Is the media that desperate to bash the catholic church?

    • James H, London

      Always – the thing is, the Telegraph is usually the most *sympathetic* to the church. They were the ones who broke the story about illegal sex-selective abortions, and they have 2 Catholic bloggers. In fact, I’ve seen comments several times that fume about how the ‘DT is the mouthpiece of the Catholic Church’. So, they’re not prime suspects for Catholic-bashing.

      But yes, it’s red meat for the ‘meedja’; the only bright side is the Amorth boilerplate of ‘thousands of exorcisms’, though I notice he’s not being called ‘the Vatican’s Chief Exorcist’ in this instance.

    • kenneth

      With guys like Amorth around, the Church “bashes” itself. All the media organization has to do is sit back and give the guy some air time or column space and he does the rest.

  • Paolo

    Mark, I’m sad about your statements, but not surprised at all. I know Fh.Amorth, one of the most holy priest I’ve ever met. And I know that my eloquence will be ineffective against masters of rethoric. I can just witness holiness against second hand narrative, alleluia!

    • Mark Shea

      I have no doubt he is a very nice man. Nonetheless, he says reckless and unfounded things on a regular basis.

  • Mark

    I’ve been extremely skeptical of the claims Fr. Amorth makes. The man is an exorcist. He regularly deals with the most evil creatures in the universe. To think doing that cannot scramble a man’s mind is absurd. I’ve even read that he gets some of the information from his claims from demons during exorcisms. Does he really think he can believe the testimony of a creature of the father of lies?

    • Mark Shea

      Slight correction. Demons are creatures of God, like all other creatures. The devil cannot create. He can only warp and destroy. But your point is well taken.

      • Mark

        I phrased that poorly, admitted, I wasn’t entirely sure how to phrase it at the time.

  • Sandra Miesel

    Fr. Amorth predicted (on the basis of his claimed inner locuti9ons from Mary) that “all the promises of the Immaculate Heart” were to be fulfilled by 1998.

    • Art

      He also said that Yoga was evil.

    • Weren’t those same “promises” given to Father Gobbi?
      I’m suspicious of locutions. Actual appearances of Mary are a different story (I’m talking about the approved ones, of course). But how do you know for *sure* what is “talking” to you? Is that your subconscious, or even demons looking to confuse you?

  • Sandra Miesel

    Yikes! I mixed up Frs. Gobbi and Amorth. It was Fr. Gobbi who made the prediction about 1998.

  • maizie

    I really hope you haven’t slandered this man.

    • Mark Shea

      Don’t worry. I haven’t.

  • Joseph Downs

    I was thinking this: If there were a Satan et al., it would be to the great advantage of Satan et al. that we believed that there was no Satan et al. Also, if there exist Satan et al., these claims of this Father Amorth very well could be true, and certainly would be plausible. This man did not chase delusions all those decades he was a notable exorcist in the back yard of how many popes. Or, do his detractors claim that the man suddenly has become an imbecile or a lunatic, simply because he rejects pop psychology and poorly digested Freudianism?

  • Katalina

    I have not heard this anyplace else, most of the exorcists have been talking about is whether or not Pope Francis himself performed an exorcism on a disabled person form a video clip. Fr Lonbardi denied this but other exorcists said this was true as well since Francis speaks constantly about Satan and the Demonic.

  • Heidi keene


  • Heidi keene

    Mr. Shea says, “How does he know?”

    Fr. Amorth comments within his field of expertise-which happens to be EXORCISM!! I think he is more than qualified to give his opinion on what in pop culture opens us up to satanic influence….
    And would you really expect a man who has personally fought demons for over 40 years-on a daily basis- to NOT be eccentric?

    Shame on you for not recognizing that the truth doesn’t always come in comfortable Mother Theresa type packages.

  • smipypr

    I was recently introduced to the story of Fr. Amorth by a friend. It seems to me that Pope Francis may be looking for a little “street cred” with the extreme right wing of the Church; the approval of a corps of exorcists would do some good for a Pope who has a strong communal bond with so many of his flock. However, exorcism has always been on the fringes of Catholicism. The practice has had ups and downs over the centuries, as various sects (in and out of the Catholic Church) pick up the devil ball and run with it. In that those who are afflicted with so-called multiple personality disorder rarely recover – they just add personalities – those who present with alleged symptoms of demonic possession are diagnosed with various levels and types of psychoses. Of course, higher levels of neurotic behavior are also subject to amateur diagnosis; obsessive-compulsive behavior can often be expressed with religious overtones. While the practices of psychiatry and psychology are ever-expanding, the practice of exorcism still remains in the 9th century. The alleged perpetrator remains the same, as do the techniques used to deal with the evil one’s modus operandum. The status of the mentally ill population is constantly manipulated to move them further away from decent care; Fr Amorth is doing no one any good by claiming to have an inside track to evicting the “evil one” and its various minions. As a former Catholic, who actually did know priests and oblates who claimed to be exorcists, Fr. Amorth, and now, by affiliation, the heretofore very sincere Pope Francis, have once again lowered a serious, caring, and dedicated group of people to the level of medieval nut balls.

    • Crusader Prime

      “The greatest lie the Devil ever got people to believe in was that he doesn’t exist.”
      Talk to an Atheist about God, and you will get laughed at, but talk about the mishaps, misfortunes, calamities of the world and they will talk forever. Suggest that the evil of the world has a source in a fallen angel and you will find more skepticism. Explain to them that the Devil attacks believers the hardest because they know he exists, and that the reason he does not attack Atheists is because what would the point be, they are already damned to Hell for their own lack of belief, but if they should ever develop a little bit of Faith, then the Devil will concentrate all of his energy on destroying their belief in it. But with continued effort for Faith, you will see Miracles, you will see that there is a malevolent force that is trying to distract you.

  • suretwowin

    Wow, this is a disrespecting article against a very respectable Exorcist on a Catholic website. What is going on here?!?

  • Crusader Prime

    A demonically possessed ███████ wrote this article in an attempt to discredit Fr. Gabriel Amorth.