Gabriel Amorth claims Hitler and Stalin were possessed
Did Amorth really mean that the devil can possess "entire populations"? Or did he mean "influence?" Because if he meant "entire populations" that's just silly.
Adolf Hitler and Russian leader Stalin were possessed by the Devil, the Vatican's chief exorcist has claimed.
Father Gabriele Amorth who is Pope Benedict XVI's 'caster out of demons' made his comments during an interview with Vatican Radio.
Father Amorth said: "Of course the Devil exists and he can not only possess a single person but also groups and entire populations.
"I am convinced that the Nazis were all possessed. All you have to do is think about what Hitler - and Stalin did. Almost certainly they were possessed by the Devil.
"You can tell by their behaviour and their actions, from the horrors they committed and the atrocities that were committed on their orders. That's why we need to defend society from demons."
According to secret Vatican documents recently released wartime pontiff Pope Pius XII attempted a "long distance" exorcism of Hitler which failed to have any effect.
Father Amorth said: "It's very rare that praying and attempting to carry out an exorcism from distance works.
"Of course you can pray for someone from a distance but in this case it would not have any effect.
"One of the key requirements for an exorcism is to be present in front of the possessed person and that person also has to be consenting and willing.
"Therefore trying to carry out an exorcism on someone who is not present, or consenting and willing would prove very difficult.
"However I have no doubt that Hitler was possessed and so it does not surprise me that Pope Pius XII tried a long distance exorcism." [More...]
As for these "secret Vatican documents" claiming a long distance exorcism of Hitler by Pius XII that failed ... is that another claim of Amorth's? What is the source for this claim?
Either way, this is an extremely wierd statement for Amorth to make, and not a little embarassing to Catholics and exorcists because it confuses what we do believe about possession.
I know many people have enjoyed Amorth's books on exorcism, but not everyone. Ed Peters, for instance, has a good take on the problems in Amorth that I'd recommend reading.
Update: Ed Peters blogs this story: "Fr. Amorth's latest contribution to confusion."