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By Michael H. Brown

Among other things that we discuss at our retreats is the issue of angels and demons. The other night, I spoke with Father José Antonio Fortea Cucurull, a well-known exorcist from the iocese of Alcal! de "enares in #pain $%adrid&. "is thesis for a degree from the Camillas 'ontifical (ni)ersit* was entitled Exorcism in the Present Age. "e is also the su+,ect of a +ook, Interview with an Exorcist. And so he is a man to whom one can direct certain -uestions. "ow often does full possession +* demons occur. Who gets possessed. "ow acti)e -- in our present time, in his opinion -- is e)il. /hile, from time to time, demonic influence makes its attempt on us all $and while the Church is not currentl* well-schooled in this aspect, which was such a part of Jesus0 ministr*1 see toda*0s 2ospel reading&, Father Fortea, in answering the first -uestion, said that there are onl* a+out four cases of total possession, where+* a demon has complete control of a +od*, per *ear in #pain $this in a nation of fort*-fi)e million&. 3/e are speaking of something that is rare,3 the priest said. 4ike other exorcists, howe)er, the #panish priest differentiates +etween possession and influence or affliction +* unclean entities $the latter far more fre-uent& and is -uick to point out that there ma* +e cases of possession itself that ne)er come to his attention. Indeed, Father Fortea, pastor of #aint %ar* %agdalene 'arish in Anchuelo, on a)erage sees fi)e to ten people who come to see him each da* in the +elief the* are +eing affected $call this oppression or infestation&.

esoteric science.3 And the cause. the interest in spiritual matters is often di)erted to dark regions. 3#he is now normal. mediumship.. during a )isit to the (.3 3That for the moment is the main difference. There were less cases in 5urope fort* *ears ago. Americans pra* more. I reall* don0t know. *ou ha)e such things as #anter9a :an occult practice especiall* pre)alent in the %iami area./hen it is a case of total possession $and not a ps*chological sickness&. 3It takes a certain le)el of action. #o I do not sa* that here *ou ha)e more cases. wi6ardr*. 3It0s clear that the more people go to witchcraft.and that while 5urope is far more seculari6ed than the (.+ut in the Americas e)en good people show a tendenc* to go to ps*chic or witches. In the Americas. <et *ou also ha)e more Christianit*. howe)er we la+el it8 the wrong kind of supernatural experience. I did not know it was e)en possi+le to scream in such a wa*.3 recalled Father Fortea last week.. 5urope is more seculari6ed. .3 sa*s Father Fortea. The great difference +etween 5urope and here is that #outh America and 7orth America ha)e more faith. There were e)en some mo)ements of the +ed8 impossi+le for a person.#. and there is a demonical influence -. pantheism. or the 7ew Age. paganism. the exorcist sa*s the origin is often in the occult -.3 >ne of the most extreme cases the priest has encountered concerned a woman whose deli)erance lasted nine *ears. In other words. 3It was )er* dramatic +ecause of the screaming. +ut to put the hands through the +arrier from this world to the other is something that happens more in this countr*8 there is a clear presence of the occult. America has at least e-ual pro+lems with the demonic +ecause the )er* +elief in the supernatural here $missing in so much of 5urope& often leads people into cultism. =ecause of their faith. 5ach countr* has its defects. the more there will +e cases of demonism. satanism. I can0t sa* there are more cases of exorcism.#.

Asked a+out claims of apparitions. emons decei)e. "e has in)oked saints like #aint 2eorge.3 he sa*s.3 =ut.3 he sa*s. 3In one case e)en the +ishop went there and it took a while. >ne su+. *es. There can +e a link +etween a+ortion and demonism. sa*s Father Fortea -. In his mid-forties. "ealings ha)e occurred in con. %an* times )er*. "is approach is first to +less a person to see if there is possession. at places such as %ed.3 Father Fortea has +een called to deli)er homes that seemed infested +* spirits and recommends fre-uent pra*ing of the ?osar* and use of "ol* /ater in such instances.pain. Father Fortea sa*s that he does not ha)e a special sensiti)it* to the presence of e)il. )er* light.noting the 3gra)e case3 of a man who had a large tumor in his li)er that after exorcism disappeared. +ut the demon can0t mo)e the +od* with freedom-.ugor. who had recentl* spoken to priests in the iocese of #t.3 "e preferred not to address it in detail. Father Fortea descri+ed this as a 3)er* m*sterious3 topic and said there are 3different opinions among exorcists. emonical influences are more common. It often takes persistence $see James @8A&. trance. where we caught up with him. =ut I0m not sure.e in "ercego)ina.3I can tell *ou what the demons said. particularl* the =lessed %other. Augustine in Florida and was on to Al+u-uer-ue. There are more cases of demonical influence -.unction with deli)erance and exorcism. and reall* it works.ect rarel* addressed +* the Church concerns spirits of the deceased and whether the* can negati)el* affect the li)ing. 3(suall* I pra* in tongues. sometimes extreme. The* said it was witchcraft and a cult.3 said the exorcist. "is approach is more intellectual. 3 emons know what *ou are sa*ing. 3It0s a shame we don0t use healing power more. . 'urging a +uilding can take*+e a trem+le.3 he said. 3is alread* a terri+le traged* for the woman3&.ect that can cause fear. and fear is destructi)e. +ut he is reluctant to discuss this also $3The a+ortion itself. sa*ing it was a su+.

I don0t know wh*. and now it ma* +e dou+le. 3'eople who ha)e attacked her ma* ha)e a +ig surprise. and said he was informed in ?ome that she is up for +eatification. oppression.particularl* in countries such as the (.3 The good news8 the num+er of exorcists in the (. Father Fortea said that currentl* 3I suspend . 'riests are spending too much time with paper in offices and this is a +ig danger-+ureaucrac*. /hen we do. we see healing. non-+ureaucratic wa* of Christ.#. 3"er cause was accepted in the Congregation of #aints. 3Ten *ears ago.3 "e does ardentl* defend the contro)ersial writings of Italian m*stic %aria Baltorta.#. /e see freedom from fear. it0s unthinka+le to close a church +ecause in #pain it is )er* inexpensi)e to operate one1 in fact. #pain.which has di)ided at least two 5uropean exorcists. There are so man* m*steriesC For example. there were no more than thirt* or fort* dioceses that had an official exorcist in the (. The* ha)e to return to the simplicit*. he noted. is increasing.. we are opening churches in our diocese1 +ut the more *ou grow a +ureaucrac*. . the more *ou are going awa* from the ministr* of Jesus. The* should create a commission to stud* priests in Ital*. To +e in front of a computer is not wh* so man* cases of a+use. 3'riests in this countr* are )er* good -.3 4et us continue to discern. how a+out the clerg* a+use crisis -.3 he responds. In #pain. 3In #pain we ha)e )er* few cases.3 The +ad news8 man* dioceses remain without one. >ffice work is not pastoral work.3 he claims. /e see deli)erance. who wrote Poem of the Man-Go . o+session.udgment. depression. the more it eats *ou1 the more *ou +ur* *ourself in an office. e)en possession $hear the hiss& as well as fear. It is a simple call to act in the unworldl*. and e)en the >rthodox in 2reece on how to function as poor and simple.#.

one would see that 3the pages of the 2ospel are completel* ali)e in our time. If one could watch the ministr* of exorcism. sa*s Father Fortea.3 .It takes close attention to #cripture -.which itself has great power o)er e)il.