Mexican priest Father Cesar Truqui has seen people speaking in tongues, using superhuman strength, and even masturbating 40 times per day. He has expelled demons for the past ten years as an official Roman Catholic exorcist. Based in Switzerland, he is traveling to the Vatican this month to teach a seminar on exorcism, part of the Catholic Church’s response to a reported uptick in demand for exorcisms in Italy and across the world.
While many view the practice with skepticism, Truqui went to the Bible to defend it.
“Christ was the first exorcist,” Truqui told The Guardian. “The power of casting out demons was one of the first signs that Christianity was a true religion.”
Indeed, the Gospels record at least seven exorcisms performed by Jesus, from the very beginning of His ministry (Mark 1:21-28, Luke 4:31-37) onward. Even after He cast out demons, skeptical religious leaders suggested He cast them out “by Beelzebul, the prince of demons” (Matthew 12:22-32).
Non-Christians even cast out demons in the name of Jesus (Mark 9:38-41) and some mentioned Saint Paul as the one who preached Jesus (Acts 19:13). Jesus encouraged His disciples not to stop such people “for no one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, for whoever is not against us is for us.”
Besides this biblical grounding, Truqui revealed a great deal about exorcism. This Mexican priest served as an assistant to the late Father Gabriele Amorth, a famous exorcist who claimed to have performed more than 100,000 exorcisms.
While many have abused, tortured, and even killed people while attempting to perform exorcisms, most of these egregious cases took place outside the sanction of the Roman Catholic Church, which has clear restrictions around the procedure. The official rite requires an exorcist to make sure there is no medical explanation for the alleged demonic involvement.
“In the case of some intervention that is said to be demonic, the Exorcist should above all use the utmost circumspection and prudence as a matter of necessity,” Rev. Andrew Menke, executive director of the U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat of Divine Worship, quoted in the rite of Exorcism. “First of all, he should not too easily believe that someone is possessed by a demon, when the person may be laboring under some illness, especially of a psychological nature.”
“Catholic Priests who are deputed to be exorcists regularly work with doctors and psychologists in the evaluation of the situations they encounter,” Menke told PJ Media.
Truqui explained that the people involved in his exorcisms had problems that could not be explained in medical terms. He recalled the case of a woman who may have been cursed by her mother-in-law. This woman felt “an almost constant sensation of daggers entering her legs, knitting needles in her arms, and a clenched hand at her chin,” The Guardian reported. Another patient, a man, was so obsessed with sexual gratification that he masturbated 40 times per day.
“Normally speaking it is humanly impossible … so that is a satanic thing,” the exorcist explained. “At the end of the exorcism, there is always relief,” in his experience.
In direct contrast to a “non-denominational” Hollywood exorcist, Truqui said full-on demon possession is extremely rare. Most people who come to see him have normal problems or mental illnesses, and he has sent them to seek psychiatric help in those cases, Truqui said. Only about 2-3 percent of those who come to him show signs of demonic “vexation.”
In these cases, victims are capable of feats of superhuman strength, Truqui explained. Their voices change and they growl or speak in tongues. The exorcist claimed to have seen people suddenly speak in Hebrew or Aramaic without having ever studied these languages.
“Most of the time, the people who see me are victims,” the exorcist said. He described Satan as a cunning tempter. “The devil tempts the holy man in his holiness and the sinner in his sin.”
Truqui suggested that if Pope Francis were ever to be vexed or possessed by the devil, the devil would be cunning enough to tempt the pope in the most effective ways. The devil would not tempt Francis with lust for a woman, but he might prey on the pope’s sympathy for the poor, tempting him to ignore the affluent.
The exorcist said the process of exorcism is relatively boring, compared to the versions portrayed in popular culture. An exorcist would put his hand on a person’s back or head, and begin by reciting the Lord’s Prayer. In response, a vexed or possessed person might then start speaking for the devil.
Truqui told the Guardian about one case in particular. “[The subject] said ‘I am the prince of this world, I am Satan’, and the hairs on my arms went up. When you listen to a satanic growl, once you listen to the devil’s voice, you can recognise it.”
In a culture impacted by Postmodernism, the skeptical Modernist rejection of spiritual battles like the ones involved in exorcism has faded. Even atheists have started discussing spirituality, and one Hollywood exorcist suggested that everyone on earth “has probably been possessed.” In addition to the “non-denominational” variety, Muslims, Indian “godmen,” and Buddhists have engaged in exorcisms.
Ironically, in this climate of recently unleashed spirituality, the Roman Catholic Church’s balanced and well-regulated approach to exorcism may prove the most rational and even scientific in a world of competing spiritual theories.
Truqui is correct in saying that Jesus Christ was the first known exorcist. If the New Testament is correct in recording Jesus’s various miracles — including numerous exorcisms — the Catholic Church may represent a right way forward — or at least the least wrong way forward — for dealing with demons.