Exorcist: Streets of London Full of Demons… But is Scotland Satan-Free?editor
From the National Catholic Register…
On a sunlit autumn day, outside a church in central London, there stands a figure — by his dress unmistakably a Catholic priest. This priest, Father Jeremy Davies, is also an exorcist. He is at the church door awaiting someone, due to arrive shortly, in need of his ministry.
National Catholic Register Continues…
The matter-of-fact and calm manner of Father Davies belies the fact that this is a man on the front line of an ancient and ongoing spiritual battle. It is one carried out by him behind closed doors in a London church on an apparently mundane weekday afternoon. Yet within those church walls the power of the Holy Name releases people from the influence of evil, frees the oppressed from wicked spirits and, in the more extreme cases, casts out demons from the possessed.
Seemingly unperturbed by the evil that he combats, Father Davies states simply: “If God asks us to do a work, then he will protect us.” Since being ordained in 1974, this priest’s primary concern has always been, rather than his own well-being, the spiritual well-being of those who seek his help; and since 1987, that concern for others included their desire to be rid of Satanic oppression. No doubt, the concern he feels about his current “cases” is similar to that he experienced when he was working as a doctor. His desire then was to cure patients of physical illness; now, it is to rid his current patients of something even more deadly.
Since the late 1970s Father Davies has been exercising the ministry of deliverance and exorcism in the Westminster Diocese. In 2019, such is the demand for his services that he exercises that ministry every week at a central London church. He agreed to speak to the Register Oct. 9.
Portrait of an Exorcist
At one time, Father Davies was one of the few exorcists in London; now, he is one of a number. It was in 1987 that the then cardinal-archbishop of Westminster, Basil Hume, asked him to become the exorcist for the diocese. Although Father Davies had at the time only limited experience of the work to be undertaken, without hesitation, he accepted his new ministry.
In some ways he was a perfect candidate. Before becoming a priest, Father Davies had trained as a medical doctor. After qualifying to practice medicine in 1968, he had practiced in remote parts of Africa, where he had encountered strange disturbances in his patients. Following his ordination in 1974, he worked as a priest in central London. Here, he encountered behaviour just as disturbed in the souls entrusted to him as he had in his former patients in Africa. Father Davies remembers “all sorts” of people coming to his presbytery, some of whom he says were “possessed or troubled.” His work as a parish priest proved an introduction to a world that is now central to his priestly ministry.
Today, he no longer runs a parish. Instead, his time is largely taken up with his work as an exorcist. An octogenarian, mentally alert and still in good health, Father Davies focuses upon his work with an air of pervading calm. In fact, his demeanor still has aspects of the “bedside manner” of any good doctor. In short, he is a skilled listener and observer.
Satan Is Real
As Father Davies awaits another troubled soul, he reflects on the recent comments allegedly made by the Jesuit superior general, Father Arturo Sosa, that, seemingly, he no longer believes that Satan exists. Father Davies shakes his head: “It’s fatal to faith and salvation to disbelieve a part of Revelation. Every part of Revelation is important and essential. Belief in Satan as a fallen angel — indeed, as the leader of the fallen angels — is an essential part of divine Revelation.”
Father Davies said that such a view as that attributed to Father Sosa is “totally against the word of God and the Catholic faith. It shows just what depths people can sink to on the path of modernism.” He paused and then added: “If he really said this, he has put himself outside the communion of the Church.” Standing in the sunshine while awaiting a soul desperately in need of deliverance ministry, Father Davies added, “I would ask him [Father Sosa] how on earth he had come to this belief.”
Father Davies was speaking to the Register just weeks before Halloween. London shops are full of paraphernalia associated with that festival. Father Davies is clear that there are two major perils associated with Halloween, both equally dangerous: “They [those who ‘celebrate’ Halloween] begin by playing games, but it can lead to people disbelieving in the devil and evil spirits, and this, in turn, can lead to a loss of the Christian faith.”
He pointed out that a “levity about such matters was fatal; playing with evil under the pretext of it being untrue is to allow evil to enter.” But evil can also enter, he explains, where there exists an unhealthy interest in the occult, leading to “an intrusion of demonic influence” through a growing fascination with it. Whichever way evil gains entry, Father Davies is clear that any dabbling in the occult “doesn’t have to be deep to be deadly.” He explained that any “tolerance of occult practices is part of a terrible deception” stemming from its source, namely, the Father of Lies. There is no such thing as a “gradation” in these matters, according to the exorcist priest. All such activity he sees as sinful, and, as with any sin, it is a means by which a soul is removed ever further from the love of God.
Gateway of Sin
It is not just the occult that is a gateway for the entry of evil into the lives of those unfortunate enough to experience it, though. Father Davies cites other ways in which evil can enter and linger, ultimately destroying the soul. He said that this can occur by means of “every sin, but sins particularly bound up with the preternatural and with grave sin — such as abortion and pornography — and anything against our created nature, including in the realm of sexual morality.”
Interestingly, Father Davies still sees potential opportunities for good in the fact that Halloween has gained an ever-higher profile year by year. “Halloween is a good opportunity,” he suggests, “to teach the faith and help all of us — especially children — to understand the reality of evil and the truth of Christ and his Church.” It is the occasion, he feels, to “teach against” the festival using the word of God and the “clear teaching of the Church.” This now-omnipresent paganized holiday is the moment, he says, “to warn the world not just to avoid Halloween; it is also an opportunity to tell people about Christ.”
Illusion and Reality
Exorcists have been the stuff of media fantasy since the 1970s. The 1973 film The Exorcist was a worldwide box-office smash and established a cinematic sub-genre devoted to the subject as well as a hackneyed template for any related plot. Needless to say, most of these films concerning exorcisms have been inaccurate, sensational and wholly forgettable. But there is nothing about Father Davies that is remotely sensational or that appears out of the ordinary — as, without a glance, people pass by him on a busy London street.
Father Davies began his ministry as one of only a very few exorcists in London, and, then, there was little contact among those priests. But over the intervening three decades, this has changed. Over the years, as his ministry has grown, so too has communication between the British and the worldwide network of priests who are charged with this work. In 1990 Father Davies, along with five other priests, including Father Gabriele Amorth, founded the International Association of Catholic Exorcists. This organization holds an international conference every other year in Rome. In addition, the British-based exorcists also hold a national conference. Across London exorcists meet on a regular basis to coordinate their fight against the forces that spiritually oppress so many. The identities of diocesan exorcists are only revealed to those in need of their help. The work of these priests and the laypeople who assist them is largely hidden from the public view.
It is time for Father Davies to leave. His services are required.
As he gets ready to leave, I am reminded of what a holy priest, now long since dead, once said of the streets of London, namely that they were “full of demons.”
When this is put to him, Father Davies replies, “That’s true.”
And with that he pushed open the church door once more to enter into his ministry.
(The above taken from As Halloween Approaches, an Exorcist Speaks on the Reality of Satan – An interview with a London priest who battles the devil. National Catholic Register – emphases added).
When the family in a house in Rutherglen (Diocese of Motherwell, though outskirts of Glasgow city) was reported as experiencing “paranormal activity”, a priest went into the home to give a “blessing”; however, the problem persisted and, as this Daily Record piece reports, the “Catholic Church failed to respond” to journalists’ enquiries. That might have been because – as we were reliably told at the time – Scotland doesn’t have an exorcist any more, so beyond a priest saying some prayers and blessing the home, there didn’t seem a lot more the Church authorities in the diocese could do to rid the family of their unwelcome supernatural guests.
The question for this thread has to be: should Scotland have at least one exorcist, given that the city of London hosts a meeting for the English exorcists on a regular basis…Or is it the case that Scotland is Satan-free? Really?
Every diocese is supposed to have at least one priest appointed and authorised by the bishop to conduct the ministry of Exorcist. If any bishop does not provide for this ministry he is failing his flock – he is the equivalent of a natural father who refuses to provide a sick child with medical treatment. He is negligent, a wastrel, a false shepherd and an abusive father.
I can’t believe that there are no exorcists at all in Scotland, surely? Ours has never been busier.
I’ve emailed the Scottish Catholic Media Office to ask them if we currently have an exorcist, because, last I heard, we did not.
I tried originally to send my question directly via the Bishops’ website but some unexplained (technical !) reason, it could not be sent. Read into that what you will or will not 😀
For the record, folks, I stumbled across the following article doubting the truth of the Rutherglen house, on rather silly grounds (no named police officers, e.g.)
Unfortunately, the piece was closed to comments or I’d have made the following points:
1) The priest who was called to give the blessing, told me about the experience. He took another priest with him. Both of them witnessed the drawers opening, materials flying around etc. No 2 priest refused to return to the house! Note: in case anyone can identify this priest, I need to explain that he is not a friend of Catholic Truth, or me, personally. I forget the exact details now but it was something along the lines of he became aware of our discussion on this blog and wanted to clear up some confusion. To do this, he had to identify himself, with my assurance that I would not name him. That was what they call, then, “a done deal”!
2) Some time later, when I was attending a business meeting in the area, I mentioned that this office was not far from where the “poltergeist” house is situated. The business man with whom I was chatting laughed and said, yes, that was quite something, because his son was a member of the same football team as the boy who lived in the house in question. The day the report appeared in the Daily Record, but before he (business man) had seen it, he was at the place where the boys’ football practice / game, whatever it was, had been scheduled to take place. The game was held up because the boy from “the house” was late and as he came sauntering towards the crowd of parents and players waiting for him, who were shouting to hurry up, that he was late, he replied sullenly that he couldn’t help it “oor hoose is haunted”. That made them all laugh – they thought he was kidding and the business man said that, at least, his excuse for being late was original!
So, although I didn’t read the entire “doubting Thomas” article and comments, I have no hesitation believing it.
I have, today, received the following reply from Peter Kearney, Director of Scottish Catholic Media Office:
“As I understand it – this is a matter for each Bishop, who has a canonical responsibility to provide an exorcist in their own diocese, albeit the bishop can act in that capacity as required.
There may be priests who have undertaken training in this area around the country, but I’m not aware of any central register of this.
My own understanding is (as I replied to the SCMO) that priests cannot take on this office but need to be appointed to it by their Bishop, and suitably trained; and that only priests reputable of living a Catholic life should be appointed, because someone lacking [some degree of] holiness, knowledge and expertise in this field, can, themselves, be possessed.
Maybe Deacon Augustine can confirm or deny my understanding?
Canonically speaking, jurisdiction is necessary to conduct the ministry of exorcism, therefore, every bishop is de jure an exorcist and it is only a bishop who can delegate and authorise a priest to act in this capacity.
A bishop can authorise any priest to act as an exorcist to deal with any particular case and I am aware of priests who have been so authorised on occasion. However, ideally a priest who has received proper training should be appointed in every diocese to deal with cases of exorcism and deliverance.
If priests are simply authorised to do exorcisms on a case by case basis, they can achieve the required outcomes. However, by way of analogy, the same could be said about a GP performing open-heart surgery in an emergency. It would be much safer for all concerned if a specialist in cardio-vascular surgery did the job!
Most priests I know who do believe that the devil exists would not touch an exorcism with a barge-pole. They would rather it were dealt with by somebody who knew what they were doing.
Editor: for the record, this comment went into moderation due to a typo in your username. “Deacon” was spelt highly imaginatively – fast typists are prone to this sort of thing, but worry not, it’ll be sorted out by the infallible WordPress admin system, in due course!
Thank you for that – one of the key dangers which has stayed in my mind is that those priests who are properly trained know never to enter into conversation with the devil, because in that way he can be possessed himself.
If at no other time, we should all be able to see the wisdom of male-only ordination; there isn’t a woman in the world who would pass up the chance to have a conversation with the devil!
Thank you for rescuing my comment from moderation. The demons constantly interfere with my keyboard – especially when I misplace my reading glasses! 😉
I found this report about a Greenock priest (Paisley Diocese) from 2018 – he seems to be an exorcist, so maybe he was appointed after the Rutherglen house could not be exorcised. I heard at the time that there had to be an exorcist brought up from England, in the end.
Thank you for that Josephine. The Rutherglen incident took place in 2016 so, assuming the Greenock priest was appointed after that, it may be connected. The report which you link is dated 2018.
In any event, I have emailed the SCMO to ask if we currently have an exorcist, so will report back when that is confirmed or denied.
I have a vague memory of reading that Fr John Bollen was taking leave of absence from active ministry, although I can’t swear to it. Maybe someone else will know?
Your comment triggered a memory in me, so I went searching and found this article, penned by Fr John Bollan, in the Scottish Catholic Observer – this report is dated January 19
In the piece his approach is very much the modern “I’m very open about my mental health” but it’s not clear whether or not his “break” is a mere holiday, extended leave of absence or a preparation for a final “goodbye”. He concludes with the “hope” that he will return to his parish refreshed.
Somehow, his mental fragility doesn’t – in my uneducated opinion – seems too suited to the office of exorcist. On the contrary, I would imagine it makes him vulnerable.
I took a quick look at the parish of St Joseph’s to see if he has returned but no priests are named at all.
This is a blog about Canon Law which has an article on the subject of exorcists. I found it very interesting so think others will, as well.
One thing that surprised me in the article was that the diocesan priest doesn’t have to appoint a “permanent exorcist” but can just give a priest the job in a case of particular possession. That struck me as very odd, because I remember the case of the American pro-life priest who made headlines a few years back because he had taken it on himself to work as an exorcist and he ended up causing huge scandal. I forget his name, but I’m sure other bloggers would remember him.
Sorry, I meant to say that the diocesan bishop doesn’t have to appoint a permanent exorcist (not a diocesan priest).
That was Fr Thomas Euteneuer who was the head of HLI at the time. It was quite shocking. I read somewhere that he said he wasn’t a trained exorcist and shouldn’t have been dabbling in that at all.
I met Fr Euteneuer when I was in the USA some years ago. It truly came as a shock to us all when this terrible news broke.
I avoid using that website because the Canon Lawyer who runs it has been wrong all along on the SSPX (she still advocates avoiding attending the SSPX Masses) and so, just as I would refuse to engage a solicitor who revealed ignorance of the law in any aspect which supposedly formed part of his expertise, I would not consult any Canon Lawyer who was so ignorant of the basics that any wee wifie in any SSPX church could put her right.
From what I’ve read on this blog over the years, not only is Scotland not Satan-free, it is practically free of the Catholic Faith.
What I found most interesting about this article was that the bishops of the UK do, in fact (despite their sorry track record elsewhere), recognize the presence of evil, and are responding the way the Church should respond: by deploying exorcists. So the question in my mind is, why do they recognize evil in this form, yet not in the Vatican II deconstruction of the Church? Where do they think the Vatican II agenda came from, if not from demons?
The confusion in the minds of Scots churchmen is simply this; they do not see Vatican II as anything but a good thing. What we recognise as the resulting chaos and apostasy, they blame on “secularism”. An increasingly secular society and culture, they argue, is to blame for the decline in the Faith, not Vatican II
The fact that Muslims,Sikhs, Hindus and Jews all live in the same secular society and culture without detriment to their religion, seems to have passed them by.
I believe that mistake is called the tail wagging the dog.
Perhaps we’ll get lucky, and one of these demons being exorcised will gloat about having destroyed the Church at Vatican II. Let’s see these clergy deny it after that!
On a related note, I noticed something rather amusing, in a sad way, during this “Hallowe’en” season: amongst all the neighborhood yards and houses decorated with ghouls, ghosts, goblins, demons, spider webs, black cats, etc., there was invariably a sign somewhere that said “Happy Halloween”!
As if all these representations of creatures from hell looked happy….
“Happy Halloween” – LOL!
It just shows how completely mixed up people are, dipping into the occult to make them “happy”. If only they’d wake up and smell the coffee! We are surrounded by evil. When will they realise it’s really nothing to celebrate!
One of the things missing from the article was which Rite of Exorcism is used by Father Davies. Josephine mentions Fr. Euteneuer above – I recall that he published an analysis of the new 1999 Rite some years ago, compared it to the old 1614 Rite, and found the new one extremely weak, to say the least.
Here is the article, it’s from 2010:
“Although the Second Vatican Council authorized the revision of all liturgical books, it is hard to believe that the Council envisioned the radical changes made to such an important weapon of the Church militant as the 1614 exorcism ritual, known as De exorcizandis obsessis a daemonio (“On Exorcising Those Obsessed by a Demon”). Its 1999 revision is titled De exorcismis et supplicationibus quibusdam (“On Exorcisms and Other Supplications”). Even the change in title signals a change in focus: The 1614 ritual is about freeing those obsessed by demons; the 1999 revision is about prayers and supplications. I am sure the Devil is happy to have the focus diverted from breaking his power to pious prayers.
I do not say this for effect. I say it because it is true. It appears as if someone took a knife to the old ritual and then, when all the pieces were cut up and lying in a pile, discarded some and cobbled the rest together in a new order and called it a “revision.” It is no surprise, as Fr. Gabriele Amorth noted in his 1999 book An Exorcist Tells His Story, that the revision was conducted without the input of a single practicing exorcist.”
It would, indeed, be very interesting to know which rite is used by Fr Davies – and, indeed, the (many!) other English exorcists.
I wonder if Deacon Augustine knows the answer to that?
I have heard stories of failed exorcisms using the new rite, described by one commentator as a “very polite request to the devil to leave the person concerned”. Yeah, right. Like he’s going to oblige!
I don’t know Fr Davies personally, but I do know he was a friend of Fr Amorth, was a founder member of the association of exorcists with him, and he regularly takes part in events which have a very traditional piety.
I would imagine that any exorcist who is involved in the ministry over a period of time and gains experience of what works and what doesn’t, would resort to using what he knew would work. Otherwise he wouldn’t continue with it.
These days, just to acknowledge the existence of the devil and that people can suffer from his influence, more or less puts a priest in the “traddy” camp to some degree anyway. (Most of the rest just laugh at these benighted people who “see the devil everywhere”)
“Benighted people who see the devil everywhere” reminds me of a former blogger here, a priest (so he claimed), who asserted that Pope St. Pius X’s Pascendi was the result of a “reds under the bed” mentality.
How’s that for apostasy?
That is exactly the mentality one finds amongst priests “of a certain age”. They still keep their heads in the sand and their butts in the air even now that everything Pascendi warned about is coming to pass. It is an apostasy and it has been led by the clergy from the beginning.
Thank God that most of the younger ones coming through can see “Fat Frank” and his cronies exactly for what they are – idol-worshipping apostates.
What astounded me about Fr Amorth was that, albeit an exorcist at the “top of the tree” so to speak, he failed to see the diabolical activity which constitutes Medjugorje – to the point where he actually believed in it himself.
At the risk of sounding naïve, how can an exorcist of his age and experience be so easily fooled, and not actually see the clear evidence of the devil at work – heresies being attributed to Our Lady, money-spinning etc?
I didn’t know that he had taken a positive stance on Medjugoogoo – that is disappointing. Perhaps he had not checked out all the facts behind it.
The fact that the Pacha..ma-defending Cardinal Schonborn supports it is surely a sign that there is something not right about it.
Yes, he was definitely pro-Medjugorje – to my total puzzlement.
I agree – the fact that Cardinal Schonborn supports Medjugorje should have alerted Fr Amorth to its true nature even if the heresies attributed to Our Lady and the money spinning did not!
I am aware that Mm. Editor knows full well that I was, at one time, a Seminarian but discontinued my studies after I was half-way through. I did actually receive Minor Orders and for those who do not know what they are, they are Lector Porter Acolyte and Exorcist. When I left the Seminary I lost my clerical status and therefore those Ministries went too. It was several years later when I had emigrated to Australia that Archbishop Goody of Perth re-instituted me with the Ministry of Acolyte although a layman and I therefore do still hold that Ministry.
The charism of Exorcist has always interested me and when I purchased my set of three copies of the Breviary which Baronius Press published of the traditional Breviarum Romanum I discovered that volume III contains also the Rite of Exorcism in Latin. I was and still am, delighted. I have gone over it several times so that now I am quite familiar with it although my right to use that Rite, I still do not possess!
Yes, I’m only mentioning that, in passing. But I am still interested nevertheless.
If I may add a P.S.. It has always been said that the Devil hates anyone who uses Latin!
The Devil hates Latin. That sprang to my mind when a former PP who knew I attended the TLM, said that he hated Latin. When I asked why, he said it was because he had x number of lessons at school but – I pointed out – that was no more than the number of English lessons so did he hate English as well. Not the deepest thinker in the world, I’d wager!
PS – I had forgotten that you were a seminarian at one time.
I’d say the Devil hates everything, including himself.
Trust you to remember that the Devil is a hate-filled guy (notice the feminists not [yet] demanding that he be called “she”!)
However, I believe he has a special hatred for the Church’s Latin…
I thought Paul VI did away with the Minor Orders – or am I thinking of something else? Or, as Editor might say, am I even thinking?
You are correct that Paul VI did away with the minor orders – he replaced them with the ministries of lector and acolyte into which every candidate for Holy Orders must be installed prior to diaconal ordination.
I suggest that Mr Rayner may be letting slip his own antiquity! 😉
I am in no way ashamed of my antiquity.I was a seminarian when Pius XII died.I well remember the whole College singing a Solemn Requiem for him after his death. The memory of that Requiem is still with me. It really was something to be part of and I know full well that such a sung Requiem, in Latin (of course), at my demise, is beyond those around me at this present time. Sic transit abilitas mundi hic et nunc.
My PS this time is a translation of the Latin “Thus passes the ability of the World, here and now”
I hope you don’t think I was implying you should be ashamed of your antiquity – I was merely observing that (outside the traditional orders) it is a long time now that the minor orders have been “used”.
Where did you receive the minor orders? My old PP received his at a similar time in Pius XII’s pontificate and it would prove an incredibly small world if you knew him!
I think that it is very unlikely that I know your PP. I was at that time a seminarian at The English College Lisbon and it was the Cardinal Patriarch of Lisbon who conferred on me the Minor Orders. I forget his name now and The English College Lisbon has been closed down and sold off. I am reliably informed that what was The English College in Lisbon is now highly desirable and expensive real estate in the District of Bairo Alto in the centre of Lisbon. I took a look at it three years ago…from the outside… It is directly opposite the Conservatorio National de Lisboa where I used to have Organ lessons on Thursday mornings! That place is still going strong I’m glad to say and I could hear the music coming forth in the street when I was there.
My PP was also at the English College around that time, but it was the English College in Rome. So, yes, quite unlikely that you would know him. I am surprised by how many overseas English seminaries there used to be. Sadly most seem to have been sold off now – such is the state of things.
I am quite sure that your PP would Know Basil Loftus then because he was also a seminarian at the English College Rome at the same time. I knew Basil Loftus because he and I were boys together in the same year at St. Bede’s Grammar School, Bradford and I wrote to him from Lisbon when he was at the English College Rome.
I hope you wrote to Basil Loftus to complain about his terrible columns in the Catholic Times. If my memory serves, he wrote nothing but heresy.
Sorry Michaela but Basil Loftus was not even a priest then. He was merely a seminarian just like myself and he had nothing to do with Catholic Times then. That came much later. He had not said anything in public at that time and he cannot be blamed at that time for what he was going to do in the future.
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