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World's leading exorcist praises Pope Benedict

The Vatican’s chief exorcist has thanked Pope Benedict XVI for opening the way to exorcisms, not only for those possessed by the devil but also those tormented by him.

“Benedict held an audience with exorcists from all over the world and welcomed us with words of great, great encouragement,” Gabriel Amorth, devil fighter for the diocese of Rome for 27 years, said in an interview with Italian religious channel TV2000.


Devil fighter: Vatican’s chief exorcist Gabriel Amorth. File Pic

“He has continued to encourage us. The pope has done a lot to revise procedures... and given us powerful prayers that serve to exorcise,” said Amorth.

The praise came after the 85-year-old pontiff said he was resigning on February 28 due to old age. Benedict’s papacy has been hit hard by sex abuse scandals and divisions within the Church — both of which Amorth has previously blamed as the work of the devil.

As cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, he helped reform the catechism of the Catholic Church to “widen the front in the fight against Satan... not just in cases of the diabolic possession of people but in all cases of disturbances caused by the devil and that’s 90 per cent of the cases,” Amorth said.

He said that cases of full possession by the devil are very rare, but that he has seen victims “walk on walls, slither across the floor like a snake”.

“People go to wizards, to fortune-tellers, to those who call themselves exorcists... it’s become a problem, because when someone wants an exorcist, there aren’t very many and they are ill prepared,” he said.

The Association of Exorcists also has its work cut out because “the act of exorcism had been suspended for centuries, and while there is a huge request for exorcists, there are priests and bishops who do not believe in it.”

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Pope Benedict XVI blessed the faithful from his window overlooking St Peter’s Square for the first time since announcing his resignation, cheered by an emotional crowd of tens of thousands of well-wishers from around the world. Smiling broadly, Benedict raised his arms outstretched to the massive crowd in his second-to-last Angelus blessing before leaving the papacy. He asked the faithful to “continue praying for me and for the next pope.”

Conclave may begin before March 15
The conclave to elect a successor to Pope Benedict XVI could start before March 15 if all the cardinals were already in Rome. The conclave of 117 cardinals is expected to start between March 15 and 18. Under the church rules, the conclave is to begin between 15-20 days after the papacy becomes vacant. The cardinals already know the pope's resignation date and can convene in Rome before March 15, said Vatican spokesperson Father Federico Lombardi.

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