Matt C. Abbott
Exclusive excerpts from famed exorcist's final book
By Matt C. Abbott
September 21, 2016

The following are excerpts from the final book written by the late Father Gabriele Amorth, who died September 16 at the age of 91. Father Amorth had served as official exorcist for the Diocese of Rome. Thanks to Sophia Institute Press for permitting me to publish these excerpts in my column.

Click here to order a copy of An Exorcist Explains the Demonic: The Antics of Satan and His Army of Fallen Angels.

Satan's mission is well explained by the apostle Peter: "Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour" (1 Pet. 5:8). We can interpret that devouring as doing harm, bringing to perdition. The devil's mission in the world is to seduce souls, to lead each man and woman on the wayward paths of sin; and the principal path of this tragic mission is the path of temptation. Each one of us must fight against the temptation to sin for as long as we live. Indeed, sin leads to death....

It is also necessary to have a well-formed conscience. A good conscience is not achieved by elevating oneself or, worse yet, allowing the dominant culture to arbitrate good and bad. A good conscience is obtained by conforming one's will to God's will and to His teachings, which are given to us for our happiness and our salvation and are summarized in the highest degree in the Commandments.

The loss of a sense of sin that characterizes our era helps Satan to act nearly undisturbed and, inducing man to sin, takes man progressively away from the love of God: "Everything is lawful." "What wrong is there?" "Everyone does it." These are the suggestions that weaken the consciences of men and women and lead them on the paths toward closing their hearts, egoism, lack of forgiveness, and doing everything for money, power, and sex. Everything that seduces and enslaves souls leads to their death, which is Satan's objective....

I also add that the demon does not particularly like exercising his extraordinary action; he prefers by far to act through temptation. In the first case, the external manifestation clearly unmasks his existence. In the second, hiding himself behind ignorance and slight faith, he can act more easily because he is undisturbed. The devil is content when no one believes in his existence or when people consider him solely a medieval relic: then he is truly able to act tranquilly....

Without a doubt, diabolical possession, the invincible influence of the devil on a person, is the most striking and serious form of the extraordinary action of the devil. When the demon is able to take possession of a person, he can make him say and do what he wishes. It is necessary to clarify that the devil is not able to take possession of the soul of a man (unless the person expressly consents to it), but only his body. Nevertheless, I must say that the cases of valid and true possession are rare: cases of vexation, obsession, and infestation, which I shall treat further on, are more frequent.

When possession is manifested, the obsessed goes into a trance and loses consciousness, leaving space for the evil spirit to speak; to agitate the person; to curse; to vomit nails, glass, or other objects; and to demonstrate herculean strength – in brief, to take over....

Who becomes possessed? People of every faith or none. The devil does not look in the face of anyone. No one can consider themselves excluded: they can be young or old, believers or atheists, Christians or those of other religions. Through the years there have been Muslims who have had serious cases of possession....

Diabolical vexations are the second type of the demon's extraordinary spiritual aggression and are far and away the most numerous. They are caused by a person's cultivation of imprudent habits; by frequenting wizards or séances, through repeated and persistent serious sins, or by submitting to spells. Here the devil acts without any dominant and prevailing influence over the body and the mind of the victim, as happens in the case of possession.

Vexations are true and actual aggressions, physical or psychological attacks that the demon works against a person. At times they result in scratches, burns, bruises, or, in the most serious cases, broken bones. At times the victim is the target of stones or other objects. Typical cases of vexation are illnesses without any apparent cause that affect the internal organs or the limbs or pathologies that provoke pain in a part of the body without visible signs. Vexations can involve health, affections, or work....

Diabolical obsessions are disturbances or extremely strong hallucinations that the demon imposes, often invincibly, on the mind of the victim. In these cases the person is no longer master of his own thoughts. Rather, he is subjected to a powerful force that creates mental activity in him that is repetitive, obsessive, and irresistible. Such representations of reality, even if foreign to his manner of thinking, become profoundly fixed in his psyche. The objects of these hallucinations can be manifested as visions, as voices, or as rustlings; they can also appear as monstrous figures, horrifying animals, or devils. In other cases it can be an impulse to commit suicide or to do evil to others; and, particularly in the young, it can lead to confusion about one's gender. The history of cases is so vast that it is impossible to enumerate all the forms of diabolical obsession....

We come to the last type of spiritual disturbances – diabolical infestations: disturbances that act on houses, objects, and animals, rather than on people. It does not mean that they produce less suffering in the individuals who are associated with this satanic action. Indeed, the infestation of the house, in particular, provokes great sufferings and, at times, enormous economic damage to the property and to the one subjected to it. In these cases, the demons can damage electrical appliances, automobiles, and home-heating systems....

We have spoken of evil spells: possession, vexation, obsession, and infestation. Now the question arises: Why does God permit evil?

First, it is necessary to make clear that God, being infinite love, does not wish evil. He simply permits it, because He created men and angels as free creatures. Simply put, men are free to choose whether they wish to live for God or against Him and therefore to opt for heaven or for hell. We must recognize that God has made everything to make man happy, and in accordance with this plan, God asks man to obey the laws that He has established; but God has also given man the ability to refuse this truth. This is the situation in which all of us are placed.

And here we are before a great mystery: that creatures freely choose evil rather than good. It was the case of Joseph, a youth of twenty-eight, who emanated a strong odor of smoke and who used and sold drugs and cursed. I could see immediately that he came to me solely to please his mother and his sister, who accompanied him. I had just begun to pray when the demon manifested itself immediately and violently, and I had to stop. When [Joseph] recovered, after the exorcism, I told him that he was possessed. He told me that he already knew that he was demoniac and that he was fine with it. I never saw him again.

This is the greatest risk that God has taken with His creatures, angels and men. And He has taken it for a simple reason: because without free will, that is, without the possibility of choosing between good and bad, we would be robots and not totally free creatures. Liberty – infinite in God – is a sign of our greatness and of our sonship in Jesus Christ. Without it, we could not call ourselves sons, but only slaves.

God has given us everything; we must recognize only Him, adore only Him, and be guided only by Him, because inevitably, if we do not give to God, we necessarily give to idols. "He who is not with me is against me," Jesus says (Matt. 12:30). Half measures do not exist. Either we are of Christ, or we are of Satan. At times we would like to go halfway: serving Christ partway. Well, this is not possible. The devious method that the devil used with Adam and Eve works also with us: it leads us to think that evil and sin do not exist, that to sin, distancing ourselves from God, trying each thing for the pleasure of having experiences, is a gain. "So, in the end, what evil is there?"....

How does one contract the spiritual evils that we have just briefly described? In two ways: through sin and without sin....

There are also blameless causes, which are decidedly the majority of the cases. In fact, I think that at least 90 percent of the cases of possessions and of other evil spells are directly attributable not to their victims but to those persons who have turned their particular attentions on them, practicing some spells or evil eye against them for various motives, such as resentment, hatred, or vendetta.

© Matt C. Abbott


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Matt C. Abbott

Matt C. Abbott is a Catholic commentator with a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication, media, and theatre from Northeastern Illinois University. He also has an Associate in Applied Science degree in business management from Triton College. Abbott has been interviewed on HLN, MSNBC, Bill Martinez Live, WOSU Radio in Ohio, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's 2019 ‘Unsolved’ podcast about the unsolved murder of Father Alfred Kunz, Alex Shuman's 'Smoke Screen: Fake Priest' podcast, WLS-TV (ABC) in Chicago, WMTV (NBC) and WISC-TV (CBS) in Madison, Wisconsin. He’s been quoted in The New York Times, the Chicago Tribune and other media outlets. He’s mentioned in the 2020 Report on the Holy See's Institutional Knowledge and Decision-Making Related to Former Cardinal Theodore Edgar McCarrick (1930 to 2017), which can be found on the Vatican's website. He can be reached at

(Note: I welcome and appreciate thoughtful feedback. Insults will be ignored. Only in very select cases will I honor a request to have a telephone conversation about a topic in my column. Email is much preferred. God bless you and please keep me in your prayers!)


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