Is Pope Francis an exorcist? Some are speculating that he may indeed be after performing what appeared to be an exorcism on Sunday.
Francis laid his hands on the head of a young man in a wheelchair after Sunday Mass in St. Peter’s Square, and what happened next was pretty strange. The young man began to heave heavily, he shook, and then he slumped over as Francis prayed.
It was a bizarre scene, with Italian media surveying actual exorcists for their thoughts. They all seemed to agree that there was “no doubt” that Francis either attempted to perform an exorcism, or succeeded in performing an exorcism.
The Vatican was a bit more ambiguous, releasing a statement Tuesday that said Francis “didn’t intend to perform any exorcism. But as he often does for the sick or suffering, he simply intended to pray for someone who was suffering who was presented to him.”
Whether or not you believe in that sort of thing, Francis’ actions seemed consistent with what Catholic officials expect out of an exorcism. Reverend Giulio Maspero, a Rome-based systematic theologian who has witnessed or participated in over a dozen exorcisms, believes that Pope Francis had performed an exorcism.
He said specifically that Francis’ placement of hands on the man’s head was the “typical position” for an exorcist.
“When you witness something like that — for me it was shocking — I could feel the power of prayer,” he said of his own experiences.
Sunday was also the Pentacost, a date of significance in Catholicism during which Jesus’ apostles received the fullness of the Holy Spirit. Maspero seemed to imply that the symbolism was not a coincidence.
Your last piece of creepy coincidence: According to Italian newspapers reporting on the event, the late Pope John Paul II performed an exorcism in 1982 in the exact same spot.
Judge for yourself! Do you think Pope Francis’ exorcism was the real deal, or do you not go in for that sort of thing?