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Reporters interpret papal blessing as an exorcism

May 21, 2013

The Vatican was forced to deny that Pope Francis had performed an impromptu exorcism on Sunday, after reporters misinterpreted the Pontiff’s blessing of a sick man in St. Peter’s Square.

After celebrating Mass on Pentecost Sunday, the Pope stopped to pray over a young man in a wheelchair. After the Pope put his hands on the man’s head to confer a blessing, the man shuddered and then slumped in his seat. Several reporters speculated that the Pope had conducted an exorcism.

In a briefing for reporters, Father Federico Lombardi, the director of the Vatican press office, said that the Pope had intended simply to give a blessing. “The Holy Father had no intention to perform any exorcism,” he said. “Instead, as he frequently does for the sick and suffering persons who approach him, he simply meant to pray for a suffering person who was presented to him.”

An AP account of the incident said that speculation about an exorcism was fueled by “Francis’ obsession with the devil, a frequent subject of his homilies.”


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  • Posted by: [email protected] - May. 22, 2013 9:30 PM ET USA

    Wow, not only were the reporters overly speculating for newy items but whoever wrote this article needs to review carefully. Because the Pope discusses the devil and his evil in his homilies does not mean he is obsessed. Perhaps if more priests and bishops discussed the evils of the devil we would have a better church here in the United States.

  • Posted by: ramonantonio3455448 - May. 22, 2013 1:20 PM ET USA

    Well, its understandable that after seeing Iron Man, Star Trek, Into Darkness and the rest of the pack of special effects behemoths in this season, someone with an average perceptual mind can correlate that the act of praying with hands impositions by the Pope is actually a medieval rite in progress. What worries me is that a formal clarification had to be issued by the Vatican by means of Lombardi as head of the Press office. Can the Church get as simple as a comic book? It seems so.

  • Posted by: spledant7672 - May. 21, 2013 5:48 PM ET USA

    I was wondering when the press was going to pick up on Pope Francis' references to the devil. That he speaks of him at all certainly stands out. In relative terms, I suppose that would qualify as an obsession to some but he doesn't seem to mention him any more than the Bible does. I guess the underlying assumption would then be that proportionate attention to spiritual realities at all equals obsession. Does the same press happen to mention that the pope seems far more "obsessed" with Jesus?

  • Posted by: - May. 21, 2013 1:41 PM ET USA

    I am also amused by the headlines that say this is his "first" exorcism. I am morally certain that this is not the case. Every Baptism - in principle - is an exorcism.

  • Posted by: AgnesDay - May. 21, 2013 10:50 AM ET USA

    No, John, I suspect they are on close terms with the spirit and saw him leave the scene.

  • Posted by: John J Plick - May. 21, 2013 10:02 AM ET USA

    Bitterly amusing...So "why" is the AP so obsessed with the subject as well? They have a problem with people who believe in devils? Whether a demon fled or not... what is that to them?