Inde Ab Aliquot Annis On The Current Norms Governing Exorcisms Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith September 29, 1985 Translated by Father Gabriele Amorth, Exorcist of Diocese of Rome Prot. no. 291/70; ASS 77 (1985): 1169-70; EnchVat 9, nn. 1663-67 Excellentissime Domine
For some years there has been an increase in the number of ecclesiastic gatherings which seek liberation from demonic influences, even though they are not properly and truly exorcisms. These groups, even when a priest is present, are led by lay persons. Since the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has been asked what ought to be thought about this, this dicastry is of the opinion that all other ordinaries should have the following response:
1. Canon 1172 of the Code of Canon Law declares that no one is able to legitimately undertake exorcisms of the possessed unless expressed and individual permission has been obtained from the ordinary of the place (section 1). The canon also establishes that this permission ought to be conceded by the ordinary of the place only to priests who are distinguished in piety, knowledge, prudence, and integrity of life (section 2). Bishops are, therefore, strongly urged to see to the observance of these norms.
2. From these prescriptions it follows, therefore, that no member of the Christian faithful can use the formula of exorcism against Satan and fallen angels, extracted from that which was made law by Leo XIII, and even less are the able to use the entire text for exorcism. Bishops are to bring this to the attention of the faithful as it is deemed necessary.
3. Finally, for the same reasons, bishops are asked to be vigilant that -- for even cases in which true diabolical possession is excluded, diabolical influence nevertheless seems in some way to be revealed -- those who do not have the required faculty not serve in the leading of meeting where, in order to gain freedom, prayers are used which dignify demons by directly questioning them and in searching to make known their identity.
The announcement of these norm, however, ought not to keep the faithful from praying that, as Jesus taught us, they might be delivered from evil (cf. Mt 6:13). Finally, pastors ought to avail themselves of this occasion to recall what the tradition of the Church teaches about the proper function of sacraments and the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the angels and the saints in the spiritual fight of Christians against evil spirits.
May I take this occasion to convey my great feelings of esteem for you, remaining your servant in the Lord, Joseph Card. Ratzinger, Prefect
Translated to Italian by Father Gabriele Amorth, Exorcist to the Diocese of Rome in his Exorcist Tells His Story, [American Edition], Ignatius Press, San Francisco (1999), (translated into English by Nicoletta V. MacKenzie), pp. 189-90
Comments from Father Amorth Concerning Inde Ab Aliquot Annis
The above-cited letter warns against any direct dealings with demons and states that their name should not be asked by those who have not been granted the specific faculty to do so. The Acts of the Apostles report a particularly fitting event ... (of the consequences of acting without faculty to do so in the story of the Seven Brothers --Acts 19:11-20). (from An Exorcist: More Stories, [American Edition], Ignatius Press, San Francisco: (2002), (translated into English by Nicoletta V. MacKenzie), pp. 189-90 )
I will now explain some of that which is forbidden and what is required, according to these guidelines (of Inde Ab Aliquot Annis).
• First, official exorcisms are not allowed; they are reserved exclusively for the exorcist. The same holds true for the exorcism of Leo XIII, even though it is now part of the public domain. The private use of such exorcisms is another matter; at least, this is how I understand the above-cited document.
• We must avoid addressing the demon directly and to find out his name and -- I add -- anything else. All other considerations aside, a direct dialogue with the demon can be dangerous to anyone who dares to initiate it without the due authorization of the Church, and therefore without her protection. At the end, the document reminds one of the importance of prayer, the sacraments, and the intercession of the Virgin Mary, the angels, and the saints.... (from Exorcist Tells His Story, Ibid, pp.190-91)