Ever since the release of The Exorcist in 1973, Hollywood has held onto the genre of religious horror, never shying from the chance to give their audience a good scare, especially when the premises of the films are based on true stories.
Even from an industry notorious for its secularistic and materialistic culture, it is understood that there is more to these stories than fiction and fantasy. From The Exorcist and The Rite (2011) to The Devil Inside (2012) and The Conjuring series (2013-Present), Hollywood continues to produce movies focusing on the supernatural topic of possession, and they freely indicate that these films are based on true stories.
Recently on The Cale Clarke Show, Cale discussed the upcoming film The Pope’s Exorcist starring Russell Crowe, and what it and other movies like it have to say about the power to cast out demons, ward off evil, and what role Jesus had in exorcisms.
The Pope’s Exorcist follows the story of Father Gabriele Amorth, the chief exorcist of the Vatican who was responsible for tens of thousands of exorcisms throughout his forty years as a priest. As the trailer indicates, the movie is based on the real files of the disturbing possession of a young boy which then leads to the uncovering of a much deeper plot.
Crowe’s Fr. Amorth explains in the trailer that 98% of the time that he is called to intervene in a case with somebody believed to be possessed, he ends up referring them to a doctor or a psychiatrist. Their ailment does not require the intervention of a priest, but of a medical professional capable of diagnosing the illness, whether it be physical or mental. But the other 2% of cases – the ones when he really is needed – Fr. Amorth calls, simply, “evil”.
Given the existence and necessity for exorcists all over the world, it begs the question: How do priests of the Catholic Church have the authority to cast out demons? And from whom do they claim this power?
As Cale explained, it all goes back to Jesus Christ, the founder of our Church. As the Son of God, He had dominion over all creatures. And as the one who established our Church, He alone bore the ability to pass authority down to the Popes.
“Then Jesus asked him, ‘What is your name?’ He replied, ‘Legion,’ because many demons had entered him. And they pleaded with him not to order them to depart to the abyss.
A herd of many swine was feeding there on the hillside, and they pleaded with him to allow them to enter those swine; and he let them. The demons came out of the man and entered the swine, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned.” (Luke 8:30-33)
“In their synagogue was a man with an unclean spirit; he cried out, ‘What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!’
Jesus rebuked him and said, ‘Quiet! Come out of him!’
The unclean spirit convulsed him and with a loud cry came out of him. All were amazed and asked one another, ‘What is this? A new teaching with authority. He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him.’” (Mark 1:23-27)
And in response to these wonderous deeds, how did the Pharisees respond? They accused Jesus of being in league with the devil. That must be how He obtained the authority over them. But what sense does that make? If His power was from the devil, then why would He exorcise the demons? Rather, it is by the power of God His Father that He granted mercy, peace, and freedom to the demoniacs.
“‘I say to you, something greater than the temple is here.
If you knew what this meant, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned these innocent men.
For the Son of Man is Lord of the sabbath.’” (Matthew 12:6-8)
And through apostolic succession, this power over demons was passed down to St. Peter, the first Pope and Vicar of Christ, to his successor, and down through the line of popes and bishops throughout the centuries.
Tune in to The Cale Clarke Show weekdays at 5pm CT