Vatican formally recognizes international group of exorcists
Pope Francis walks to the altar prior to the start of an audience granted to Catholic groups in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Saturday, June 14, 2014. (AP / Gregorio Borgia)
Andrea Janus, CTVNews.ca
Published Thursday, July 3, 2014 11:43AM EDT
The founder of the International Association of Exorcists says it is “a source of joy for us” that the Vatican has formally recognized his group under canon law.
The Vatican’s Congregation for the Clergy gave the IAE “legal status as an international private association of the faithful,” according to a report in the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano.
The decision came down on June 13, the report said.
Approval by the Holy See “is a source of joy for us, not only for the association but throughout the church,” the association’s president, Father Francesco Bamonte, told the paper.
Bamonte belongs to the order of the Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, which the paper describes as the “exorcist diocese of Rome.”
The IEA has about 250 exorcists working in 30 countries, the paper reported.
The association’s roots began in September, 1991, with the founding of the Association of Italian Exorcists by Father Gabriele Amorth, according to the paper. In 1994, members agreed to hold international meetings every two years, and the global group was born.
In 1999, the Vatican revised its rules for exorcisms, which were first issued in 1614. The updated guidelines did not alter the text that priests are to use when performing an exorcism. However, the document warned priests against confusing those who are possessed with the mentally ill.
The Vatican recently had to deny that Pope Francis performed an exorcism when a video surfaced of him firmly holding his hands on the head of a man in a wheelchair and pressing down.
Bamonte said some priests must take on the task of helping those “in need of a specific spiritual or pastoral care,” to guide them on their “path of liberation.”
He hopes other priests become aware of the “dramatic reality” of the need for exorcisms, which is “often ignored or underestimated.”
Exorcism “is a form of charity,” he said, calling the act “one of the spiritual and corporal works of mercy.”