Pope Francis didn’t intend to perform an exorcism Sunday in Rome when he prayed over a wheelchair-bound man.
However, if demons fled the man’s body as a result, well, that’s just a bonus.
Or at least so says the Vatican.
On Tuesday, the Holy See released a statement that said Pope Francis didn’t perform the ancient ritual in front of TV cameras despite claims to the contrary.
“The Holy Father had no intention to perform any exorcism,” the Rev. Federico Lombardi said, according to CNN.
“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.”
During a mass Sunday in St. Peter’s Square, cameras captured the pope greeting a line of visitors.
He stops in front of a man in a wheelchair, exchanges words with his companions before laying his hands on the man’s head.
The man’s mouth opens a few times and he appears to struggle for breath or at least appears overwhelmed.
Exorcism experts who saw the video say there’s no doubt what happened.
Gabriele Amorth, the Vatican’s former exorcist, told media it “was an exorcism alright and if Father Lombardi denies this, he clearly does not have a clue.”
“That was a real exorcism and what is more, the boy the pope exorcized came to me today,” Amorth said, according to Agence France-Presse.
“His name is Angelo and he is possessed by four demons. I performed a long exorcism on him.”
Pope Francis has often referenced the devil or demons in his sermons, the Associated Press said.
He went as far as telling bishops that those who don’t pray to God, “prays to the devil.”
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