What exactly is an exorcism? That question needs answering, since Father Gabrielle Amorth, top exorcist in the Catholic Church, recently claimed to have cast out over 160,000 demons while performing more than 80,000 exorcisms. When I’ve been asked by the press how many exorcisms I’ve done, my answer is “nearly 20,000 documented cases.” Obviously, Fr. Amorth in his 80s has been at this a lot longer than I have, but his claim raises interesting questions. I am a great admirer of Fr. Amorth. We have met personally at the Vatican, and he’s given me a private tour of his exorcism facilities. I am deeply impressed by the great work he has done, and I applaud his latest call for the Pope to allow all priests to perform exorcisms, whether or not they receive a Bishop’s approval, a lengthy process.
Eighty thousand v. 20,0000. What’s the difference? Numbers really don’t matter. All that is really important is people getting help; but here’s where semantics come into play. Any time a Catholic priest reads from the Rituale Romanum, the Catholic prayer book of exorcism, and declares a demon to be gone, that priest is deemed to have performed an exorcism. (There are a few other requirements, but they are all ritual related.) By my definition, an exorcism requires the actual manifestation of the demon with verbal identification of the evil spirit’s name, function, and legal right. My designation also requires visible and audible manifestations associated with the demon’s presence and expulsion. Thus Fr. Amorth and others may have gone through a deliverance process and performed what they would consider an exorcism, which would not be an exorcism by my standards. Contrary, the Catholic Church wouldn’t necessarily consider what I do to be exorcism, only prayers of deliverance, since I’m not officially sanctioned by a Bishop. By their standards, if there is no Bishop’s approval, there is no right to declare an exorcism has been done, no matter what kind of demonic manifestations and supernatural confirmations may occur.
I’ve done far more than 20,000 exorcisms, if I were to include all prayers for deliverance, even those where a verbal manifestation did not occur. Also, in most exorcisms I cast out far more than one demon, as many as 5, 10, 20 or more at once. Multiply that by 20,000 and I have sent back to hell hundreds of thousands of demons, by God’s grace and power. I pray, and I’m sure Fr. Amorth agrees, that those who come after us will do even greater things for the Lord. Here’s the most important point: the tally of exorcisms and demons doesn’t matter. The emphasis should be on DOING SOMETHING to set the captives free. However, you total the numbers, Fr. Amorth and I have together cast out more demons than the rest of all priests and pastors combined. That IS the problem. Every priest and pastor should be an exorcist when needed, because exorcism is a command of Christ to his followers. If that were the case, we’d be discussing millions of demons expelled throughout Christianity and many more people walking in liberation, free from demonic torment. What Fr. Amorth and I do should be normal, ordinary and not extraordinary. It was that way in the First Century A.D., and should be again today..