- (Photo: AFP / Joe Raedle)
Highly regarded Father Gabriele Amorth, the former chief exorcist at the Vatican, recently pointed to what he describes as the "Satanic" nature of practicing yoga and reading Harry Potter books.
While introducing "The Rite," a horror film about exorcism, at an Umbria Film Festival last week, Amorth told the audience that Satan is always seeking ways to offer temptation.
"Practicing yoga is Satanic, it leads to evil just like reading Harry Potter," Amorth said, arguing that yoga results in the worship of Hinduism, and Harry Potter implies the worship of "black magic."
"They may both seem innocuous but they both deal with magic and that leads to evil," he added.
Amorth has been a long-time condemner of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. In 2006, the priest said "behind Harry Potter hides the signature of the king of the darkness, the devil" during an interview with Vatican Radio.
In this 2006 interview, Amorth also claimed the Nazis, as well as Stalin, were possessed.
"Almost certainly they were possessed by the Devil," he said. "You can tell by their behavior and their actions, from the horrors they committed and the atrocities that were committed on their orders. That's why we need to defend society from demons," he added.
During his speech at the Umbria Film Festival, Amorth urged listeners to steer away from all eastern religions, as "all these oriental religions are based on the false belief of reincarnation."
Amorth is also honorary president for life at the International Association for Exorcists, which he founded in 1990. At 85 years old, he has reportedly performed over 70,000 exorcisms.
According to a 2010 interview by ABC News, Amorth's office in Vatican City consists of a bed with restraining ropes, pictures of the Virgin Mary and various prayer copies.
"The devil is pure spirit, invincible. He is shown with the painful blasphemies coming from the person which he possesses. He can stay hidden. He speaks different languages. He can transform himself," he told ABC News in 2010.
Amorth also carries a small pouch consisting of nails and shards of glass, which he claims are vomited by demon-possessed victims.
Amorth's self-proclaimed favorite movie is "The Exorcist." In his 2010 interview with ABC News he said, "I believe bishops who don't appoint exorcists are committing a mortal sin."