Father Gabriele Amorth, former chief exorcist for the Vatican, has never read any of the Harry Potter books.
We know this to be true because of what he says about them: “In Harry Potter the Devil acts in a crafty and covert manner, under the guise of extraordinary powers, magic spells and curses.”
He’s not saying that this is how the Devil is portrayed as acting in the Harry Potter stories — wherein Volde-you-know-who certainly does “act in a crafty and covert manner,” at least initially. But what Fr. Amorth is suggesting is that Satan himself is acting nefariously on readers through J.K. Rowling’s books.
Having read those books, I can say with confidence that Fr. Gabriele Amorth is a bit of an ass. If Amorth has read the books, then he’s illiterate. If he hasn’t read them, but thinks he still has some right to condemn them as Satanic, then he’s a dishonest con-man who’s talking out of his cassock.
I’m leaning toward the latter, based on what else we’re told about the guy:
Amorth … claims to have performed 50,000 exorcisms before retiring in 2000. He is both founder and honorary president for life of the International Association of Exorcists.
There’s also an unmistakable whiff of con-man in this older interview, in which Amorth comes across as an aggrieved, self-important braggart. He says a great deal about the power and menace of Satan in that article — but never, ever apart from the context of his claim that therefore this means that exorcists like himself ought to be respected and honored and treated with deference instead of being denied easy access to the pope. He seems to be the guy who shows up to inform you that you have a deadly serious problem that you didn’t realize you had — but lucky for you he just happens to be selling the remedy.
Amorth, in other words, is a Jesuit Bob Larson. Larson, a pompous American huckster who claims to have “dealt with more demons than anyone on the planet,” has been more creative than Amorth at introducing new revenue streams for the exorcism racket. His latest is the “Demon Test®” — a first step for evaluating your personal spiritual condition. It’s only $4.99 to take online, although:
If you are concerned about your test score, we highly recommend that you schedule personal one-on-one time with Bob Larson. You may choose a one-hour Encounter Session or a full or half-day Intensive Session. These sessions are held during Bob’s on-the-road seminars or at our Center for Spiritual Freedom in Phoenix Arizona. In one hour you can begin living the life you’ve always wanted.
Larson is desperately trying to recapture his glory days from the Satanic panic of the 1980s and ’90s. Fr. Amorth, on the other hand, looks back longingly to what he regards as the Golden Age for his profession — the 17th century.
Anyway, here’s my favorite devilishly dumb comment from Fr. Gabriele Amorth:
Practicing yoga is Satanic, it leads to evil just like reading Harry Potter.
But that doesn’t make … I mean, reading Harry Potter doesn’t … that’s … what the …?
And now I’m stuck amusing myself by trying to compose similarly confounding statements.
- … it leads to popularity in school, just like playing Dungeons & Dragons.
- … it leads to gainful employment, just like earning a degree in philosophy.
- … it leads to enlightenment, just like listening to Ke$ha.
- … it leads to greater productivity, just like playing Free Cell.
- … it leads to greater civility, just like anonymous comments on newspaper articles.
- … it leads to knowledge, just like watching Fox News.
- … it leads to a crowded dancefloor, just like cranking up the Enya.
- … it leads to a stable financial future, just like a career in the newspaper business.
- … it leads to a thriving, well-adjusted clergy, just like mandatory vows of celibacy.
- … it leads to economic growth, just like fiscal austerity.
OK, your turn.