Inde Ab Aliquot Annis
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
For some years there has been an increase in the number of ecclesial 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
…from Exorcist Tells His Story, Ibid, pp.190-91
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. 95-96
I will now explain some of that 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 therefor without her protection.
At the end, the document reminds of of the importance of prayer, the sacraments, and the intercession of the Virgin Mary, the angels, and the saints….
INDE AB ALIQUOT
ACTA CONGREGATIONUM CONGREGATIO PRO DOCTRINA FIDEI
Epistula Ordinariis locorum missa: in mentem normae vigentes de exorcismis revocantur [Die 29 m. Septembris a. 1985 (AAS p. 1169-70)]
Excellentissime domine, inde ab aliquot annis, apud quosdam coetus ecclesiales, conventus ad precationes faciendas multiplicantur hoc quidem proposito, ut liberatio obtineatur ab influxu daemonum, etiamsi non de exorcismis proprie dictis agatur; qui conventus peraguntur sub ductu laicorum, etiam praesente sacerdote.
Cum a Congregatione pro doctrina fidei quaesitum sit quid sentiendum de hisce factis, hoc dicasterium necessarium putat omnes ordinarios certiores facere de responsione quae sequitur:
- Canon 1172 Codicis Iuris Canonici declarat neminem exorcismos in obsessos proferre legitime posse, nisi ab ordinario loci peculiarem et expressam licentiam obtinuerit (1), ac determinat hanc licentiam ab ordinario loci concedendam esse tantummodo presbytero pietate, scientia, prudentia ac vitae integritate praedito (2). Episcopi igitur enixe invitantur, ut observantiam urgeant horum praescriptorum.
- Ex hisce praescriptionibus sequitur ut christifidelibus etiam non liceat adhibere formulam exorcismi contra satanam et angelos apostaticos, excerptam ex illa quae publici iuris facta est iussu summi pontificis Leonis XIII, ac multo minus adhibere textum integrum huius exorcismi. Episcopi hac de re fideles admonere curent in casu necessitatis.
- Denique, ob easdem rationes, episcopi rogantur ut vigilent ne — etiam in casibus qui, licet veram possessionem diabolicam excludant, diabolicum tamen influxum aliqualiter revelare videntur — ii qui debita potestate carent conventus moderentur, in quibus ad liberationem obtinendam precationes adhibentur, quarum decursu daemones directe interpellantur et eorum identitas cognoscere studetur.
Harum normarum tamen enuntiatio minime christifideles abducere debet a precando ut, quemadmodum Iesus nos docuit, liberentur a malo (cf. Mt 6,13). Insuper pastores has oblata opportunitate uti poterunt, ut in mentem revocent quid Ecclesiae traditio doceat circa munus quod proprie ad sacramenta et ad Beatissimae Virginis Mariae, Angelorum Sanctorumque intercessionem spectat in christianorum etiam contra spiritus malignos spirituali certamine.
Hanc occasionem nactus impensos aestimationis meae sunsus tibi obtestor permanens
add mus in Domino
Iosephus Card. Ratzinger, Praefectus
Albertus Bovone, a Secretis
L. S. In Congr. pro Doctrina Fidei tab., n. 291/70