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"I still have the demons inside me, they have not gone away,"
In an interview with the Spanish-language newspaper, El Mundo, the 43-year Mexican man known only as "Angel V." is claiming to have been possessed since 1999 and that his possession has continued despite thirty exorcism attempts. Angel, who gained international notoriety by appearing to convulse and slump in his wheechair after Pope Francis laid hands on his head following a Pentecostal service in St. Peter's Square. Though Vatican officials denied that an exorcism had taken place, a video of the encounter has spread across the Internet. The video also shows Angelo's priest handing a file folder off to one of the pontiff's security guards afterward.
While the Pope has made numerous public statements about the Devil's role in modern society, the Vatican denies that this was a deliberate exorcism and that Pope Francis “simply intended to pray for a person who was presented to him." According to professional exorcist, Father Gabriele Amorth however, this was a deliberate exorcism. Claiming to have conducted thousands of exorcism, Father Amorth founded the International Association of Exorcists in 1990 and served as its president until retiring in 2000. He is still honorary President for life of the association. Talking with reporters about the Pentecostal event, Fatber Amorth stated "If the Vatican has denied this, it shows that they understand nothing… We live in an age in which God has been forgotten. And wherever God is not present, the Devil reigns. Those who don’t believe should read the Gospels. Jesus continually performed exorcisms. Today, unfortunately, bishops appoint too few exorcists. We need many more."
Though the formal Catholic Rite of Exorcism is extremely long and often involves repeated sessions, a "simple exorcism" can mean just reciting a short prayer to drive away evil. Whether or not a simple exorcism was used (and which the Vatican stil denies), Angelo V. is apparently reporting that the demons have as strong a hold on him as ever. He believes he was first possessed while on board a Mexican bus in 1999. "I did not see it with my eyes, but I perceived it," he said in a statement with reporters. "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." Afterward, he developed a series of bizarre symptoms including insomnia, nightmares of "the Evil one", and episodes where he found himself blaspheming and speaking in strange languages.
While many of his family members remain skeptical and he lost his publicity company due to his possession claims, Angelo managed to gain support from his priest, Father Juan Rivas, as well as Father Amorth. Along with repeated exorcism attempts, Angelo continues to live with feeling "very dirty at the thought that there was an evildoer within me." He decided to seek the pontiff's help after seeing him on television celebrating mass. While his encounter with the Pope was over relatively briefly, Father Rivas' description of the meeting seems more dramatic. "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," said Rivas. "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." Father Rivas also stated that Angel fell into a trance after kissing the Pope's ring.
There also appears to be a political element to his possession since Angelo has also been relaying messages about Mexico's abortion laws. "Not only is he possessed, but the devil who lives in him finds himself obliged by God to transmit a message," said Amorth. "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. Until they . . . do this, Angel will not be liberated."
In the meantime, Angel V. continues to report that the quality of his life is deteriorating since the demons have not left him. His possession, and the role it seems to be playing in Church politics, remains controversial.
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