Edward Pentin’s Perspective: A 43-year-old Mexican father of two, who claims to be possessed by demons — and whom Pope Francis prayed over earlier this month in what some witnesses likened to a public exorcism — insists that he still has demons inside him.
Identified only as Angel V., the man told Spanish-language newspaper El Mundo that he had undergone some 30 exorcisms by 10 exorcists, including the renowned Roman exorcist Rev. Gabriel Amorth, who all tried unsuccessfully to free him from his affliction. The interview was reported in the Italian daily La Stampa.
“I still have the demons inside me, they have not gone away,” the man said, noting that he felt much better after the Pope prayed over him. El Mundo reported that the man is able to walk. He was in a wheelchair when he met Pope Francis on May 19 at the conclusion of Mass on Pentecost Sunday.
Pope Francis laid his hands on the wheelchair-bound man in St Peter’s Square. The man’s expressions and the fact that he was known to be possessed made it appear to be an exorcism, although the Vatican denied the assertion, saying the Pope “did not intend to perform any exorcism” but simply prayed “for a suffering person who had been brought before him.”
An exorcism is, in the strict sense, a “casting out” of evil spirits using a very precise ritual. The Pope performed what is called a “laying on of hands” — a very ancient practice, going back to the Old Testament. In Christian tradition, it continues to be an act of blessing, and is also offered as an act of primarily spiritual healing by an ordained priest or bishop.
Angel V., who is married and lives in the state of Michoacán, claims to have been possessed by demons since 1999.
The Rev. Juan Rivas, a well-known Mexican priest, who accompanied Angel V. to Rome and was with him when he met the Pope, confirmed in an interview with El Mundo that Angel V. had been subjected to 30 exorcisms but “the demons that live in him do not want to leave him.” Rivas, a popular figure in Mexico and a member of the Legionaries of Christ, recalled how Angel kissed the pontiff’s ring and immediately fell into a trance.
“The Pope then laid his hands on his head and at that moment a terrible sound was heard (from him), like the roar of a lion,” Rivas said. “All those who were there heard it perfectly well. The Pope for sure heard it [but] he continued with his prayer, as if he had faced similar situations before.”
In the interview, Angel V. recalled the first time the demons entered him in 1999 when he was on a bus in Mexico. He felt “an energy” had entered the bus. “I did not see it with my eyes, but I perceived it,” he recalled. “I noted that it came close to me, and then stopped in front of me. Then, suddenly, I noted that something like a stake pierced my chest and, little by little, I had the sensation that it was opening my ribs.”
It felt like a heart attack, he added, and he thought he would die.
From then on, he said, his health started deteriorating: he vomited whatever he ate; he felt pains in his whole body, as if he was full of needles; he began to have difficulty in walking and breathing. “I could not sleep, and when I managed to sleep I had terrible nightmares connected with the evil one,” he asserted. He began to fall into trances in which he blasphemed, and spoke in unknown languages.
Medical doctors gave him thorough examinations but “could not get to the cause of my problems,” he said. Priests gave him Extreme Unction (a sacrament administered to the sick) four times, but this only “relieved” but did not remove his problem. The Catholic said he prays to God which helps him.
Knowing that he is possessed, he said is a source of “much fear,” but he also feels “very dirty at the thought that there was an evildoer within me.” His family reacted with incredulity, while some of his siblings were skeptical and thought he was psychologically unbalanced, he said.
For the past few years, Angel has sought out exorcists, including a leading Spanish priest, the Rev. Jose Antonio Fortea, who carried out exorcisms on him, and Amorth in Rome, but none could cast out his demons.
The possession turned into “a nightmare,” he said, causing him to lose a publicity company he owned and forcing him to sell some real estate. His family though has stood by him. “Fortunately, my children have never seen me in a trance, though they know I am ill,” he explained, adding that the past eight months have been particularly difficult.
One night he had a dream about Pope Francis, and when he woke up from the dream he turned on the TV and saw the Pope celebrating Mass exactly as he had seen in his dream “and then the idea came into my head that I should go to Rome.”
At that time he was reading a book by Amorth, “The Last Exorcist,” which included details of how both Benedict XVI and John Paul II carried out exorcisms on people brought to them. Angel V. asked Rivas, whom he has known for two years, to accompany him to the Vatican.
Amorth believes Angel is without doubt possessed, and that it is a possession “with a message.” “Not only is he possessed, but the devil who lives in him finds himself obliged by God to transmit a message,” he said.
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“Angel is a good man. He has been chosen by the Lord to give a message to the Mexican clergy and to tell the bishops that they have to do an act of reparation for the law on abortion that was approved in Mexico City in 2007, which was an insult to the Virgin,” according to Amorth. “Until they . . . do this, Angel will not be liberated.”
Edward Pentin began reporting on the Vatican as a correspondent with Vatican Radio in 2002. He has covered the Pope and the Holy See for a number of publications, including Newsweek, and The Sunday Times