(LifeSiteNews) – In a recent episode of “Tucker Carlson Today,” Fox News host Tucker Carlson interviewed Father Vincent Lampert, a designated exorcist of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, about the Catholic Church’s ministry to people suffering from demonic possession.
In the wide-ranging interview, Fr. Lampert, an exorcist of more than 15 years, explained how people open their lives to the demonic, the different levels and intensities of possession, the Church’s rite of exorcism, and the power of God over evil spirits.
Exorcisms aren't just in movies. Levitating, hissing, flying chairs– @FrVinceLampert has seen it all. As an appointed exorcist, he's spent years expelling demons. The full interview streams exclusively on @foxnation–plus: unlock free sign-up offers only at https://t.co/voL1Yti7Mo pic.twitter.com/qN0imugJLM
— Tucker Carlson Today (@TuckerToday) May 31, 2022
Appointed by Archbishop Daniel Buechlein of Indianapolis in 2005, Fr. Lampert trained as an exorcist in Rome, where he sat in on 40 exorcisms. Possessed people would often gather in the courtyard of the Italian church where he trained and “manifest,” he said.
The first exorcism Fr. Lampert witnessed is still “carved is my mind,” the Indiana priest told Carlson.
“So, I’m in this small little room talking to this elderly Italian lady and her husband. She’s explaining to me why she’s possessed,” he recalled. “And I’m talking to her thinking, ‘Well, this doesn’t seem to be so bad.’”
But then the priest training Fr. Lampert blessed the woman with holy water.
“As soon as the drops of water hit her forehead, she began to manifest,” Fr. Lampert said. “Her eyes rolled in the back of her head. She began to growl and snarl and throw out blasphemies. She’s foaming at the mouth, and the priest just reaches over, tears off a paper towel, wipes her mouth off, throws it in the plastic bag, and continues the prayer of the Church.”
“And I’m thinking to myself, ‘What in the world has my bishop gotten me into?’”
When he was appointed, Fr. Lampert was one of just 12 exorcists in the U.S., though that number has since grown to around 125 amid skyrocketing inquiries about demonic activity.
“I currently receive about 3,500 emails and phone calls and letters every year from people all over the United States and all over the world,” Fr. Lampert said. Half of the individuals he sees aren’t Catholic.
As a Protestant, Carlson said that he was shocked to learn that exorcisms are still regarded as real and performed by the Catholic Church.
The conservative news host pointed out, however, that Jesus Himself spoke directly of demonic possession in the Gospels and exorcised people, as did the Apostles. “So, for a believing Christian, there’s really no question that it’s real,” Carlson said, lamenting that the Episcopal Church, of which he is a member, doesn’t train exorcists.
“I think a lot of people, even Protestants like me, are reaching the conclusion that actually we don’t have all the answers,” said Carlson.
How do people become possessed?
A main task of exorcists, Fr. Lampert related, is finding the “entry point” of the demonic in a person’s life.
The elderly Italian woman, like many people who suffer from possession, had participated in occult practices, including consulting mediums or psychics and using witchcraft.
Fr. Lampert strongly warned against such activity, noting that it establishes a connection to “the demonic world” and inevitably results in diabolic attacks.
Spiritists always rely on “the power of evil working through them,” whether knowingly or unknowingly, he said. “And any time somebody would engage forces of evil eventually the demonic is going to attack them and try to destroy them, even if initially it seems to be a benefit.”
“Someone goes to see a psychic or a medium, and they hear something that’s pleasing to them, and so they keep going back again and again,” with curiosity leading to reliance, Fr. Lampert said. “But the connection that’s going to be made is with the demonic world, and eventually the devil’s going to want to be paid.”
“And the way that he’s paid is by trying to destroy someone else’s life,” he cautioned.
Another common way demons penetrate people’s lives is through habitual mortal sin, by which people become so disconnected from God that they try to create “their own truth. And that’s exactly what the devil did in his fall,” Fr. Lampert said.
He observed that many today live by three guiding principles: “You may do whatever you wish, no one has the right to command you, and you’re the god of yourself.”
“Now, you can live that way if you want,” the priest said, “but that doesn’t mean there won’t be consequences, and one of the consequences of that mentality can be that people will encounter the demonic in their life.”
Kathleen Beckman, a lay assistant to exorcists for 13 years, echoed Fr. Lampert’s assessment in an interview with the National Catholic Register last week, warning that the most typical reasons for possession she’s seen include religious syncretism, New Age practices, and unrepented grave sin, such as irregular marriages, serial abortions and adultery, and chronic addictions to pornography, drugs, and sexual activity.
Catholics can fend off demonic attacks by living in grace and frequenting the sacraments, said Beckman, who emphasized the power of the Rosary, which she said caused demons to scream during exorcisms she attended.
Curses can also be passed down through family lines, Fr. Lampert told Carlson, or established through pacts that allow demons to “claim rights” over people.
Once demons manifest, possessed victims may be left powerless to control themselves. “It’s almost like they become trapped in their own body and they’re unable to react or respond,” he said. “So the demon is now acting through them.”
Sometimes, people can even fall into what he described as “perfect possession”:
I think that it absolutely could be possible that there is something called perfect possession, where somebody is possessed by the demon, but they’re not fighting it. So, the manifestations are a good sign because it means the person is rejecting the demonic. But perfect possession is when somebody would live in a harmonious relationship with the demon, and then there no need for the demon to manifest, because it’s already won.
Fr. Lampert mentioned the example of a dying, faithless man whose family had requested a visit.
“When I went to visit him, he told me, ‘I have no desire to go to heaven, because I want to spend eternity in hell with Satan and his demons that I befriended throughout my life, because that’s what I want my eternity to be,’” he recounted. Exorcisms can only be performed on those willing to undergo them.
Fr. Lampert suggested that he’s observed famous people who appear to be in the state of “perfect possession.”
Possession typically involves not just one demon, but multiple demons, the priest further noted.
“They operate in clusters. There’s a hierarchy just as much as there is a hierarchy of the angelic choir. So, there’s always one that’s more dominant,” he said.
In one year-long exorcism Fr. Lampert performed, six of the seven demons who inhabited a woman “were quick to go.” “But the one who told me his name was Leviathan, the great sea monster mentioned in the Bible, told me it did not have to leave, because the woman had invited the demon into her life. Therefore, it was claiming this woman’s life as its own,” he said.
However, through exorcism, the Church can command an evil spirit “to return that which it has stolen, namely a person created in the image and likeness of God,” Fr. Lampert explained. “If people repent of involvement in the demonic, then demons have to honor that,” he stressed, though demons often try to convince their victims otherwise.
Fr. Lampert finally exorcized the demon from the woman by ordering it to “talk like a little child and say, ‘Hail Mary, full of grace.’” It shrieked and fled immediately.
Why foaming at the mouth?
Demons make possessed persons act in an “animalistic” way in an attempt to disgrace God, who created man in His image and likeness, Fr. Lampert added.
“The human person is God’s greatest creation because the human person reflects the divine Image,” he told Carlson. “And the devil, in his own twisted sense, believes that he can attack God by attacking the Image of God, which all of us bear. And so then people experience different types of manifestations, eyes rolled in the back of their head, the foaming at the mouth, growling and snarling, really acting animalistic.”
The manifestations are also demons’ attempts to instill fear and distract from the power of God, Fr. Lampert said. “Whereas the Church in its prayer wants to say, ‘Wow, look at what God is doing in this person.’”
“And demons, when they speak, it’s always very a deep voice to be very authoritative because they want to convince everybody they are the ones in control and not God,” he continued.
While demonic manifestations initially scared Fr. Lampert during his training, “these things don’t really faze me in the least anymore, because I know the power of God is greater than the power of evil,” he said.
How are exorcisms performed?
Fr. Lampert also explained how priests perform exorcisms. The rite of exorcism is a liturgical rite centered around “taking the components of our Christian faith and literally throwing them into the face of the devil,” he said:
So the things that the devil has rejected is what the Church will use to defeat him. So the rite always begins by blessing the person reminding ourselves of our baptism into Christ by which we became a new creation. There is the Litany of the Saints calling upon the saints to come and to be present during this public prayer. The Church reading out of the Bible, the Psalms, Gospel passages of Jesus casting our demons, basically saying, ‘You have been defeated before, you will be defeated again. Do not resist the power and the authority of Christ.’ And then there is the opportunity to try to get the person to renounce what they have done. And then, of course, the demon would prevent the person from doing that.
The Catholic Church always conducts exorcisms in a “methodic way,” Fr. Lampert noted, adding that “there is no such thing as an emergency exorcism.”
“As a priest, I will celebrate Mass beforehand. I will go to confession. I will spend time in prayer,” he said. “I will determine where the exorcism will take place. But the devil does not get to choose where he will be defeated. The Church herself will make that determination. It’s always in a sacred space, in a church or a chapel.”
In one exorcism Fr. Lampert conducted in Mexico, a woman’s eyes turned green and became slanted at the mention of the Name of Jesus. The demon left the woman, who had turned to witchcraft after horrific child abuse, within 45 minutes.
“Some exorcisms are very quick, and some can take a long time,” the priest stated. “And it really does seem that God would be the one who ultimately determines when the person will be set free.”
Demons still flee with a shriek, as they did in the Gospels, and after being delivered of possession, a person will emit a glow. The woman whose eyes turned green was “glowing as bright as the sun” and “radiating the Glory of God” after being delivered, Fr. Lampert recalled.
However, the ministry of exorcism doesn’t culminate in casting out a demon, he said, but rather in fostering a desire for holiness and a relationship with God.
He cited Luke 11:24: “When the unclean spirit has gone out of a man, he passes through waterless places seeking rest; and finding none he says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when he comes he finds it swept and put in order.”
“This means, when the demon goes, but God isn’t there, filling the void, it goes and finds seven other demons worse than itself, and they come and take up residence in the person,” Fr. Lampert said. “So really connecting somebody with faith or with faith for the very first time is a key component of the ministry of exorcism,” he insisted.
Demonic oppression ‘a gift from God’
Every exorcist at some point suffers demonic attacks, according to Fr. Lampert, though some priests may experience demonic oppression, which is a “considered to be a gift from God.”
“God allows someone to be attacked by the devil as an opportunity for that person to show their fidelity to God,” he said.
Fr. Lampert also said that demonic attacks can reflect the devil’s anger with a person’s work and that they have actually strengthened his conviction to live out his ministry and priestly vocation.
“Because he’s attacked me, that’s [how] I know that what I’m doing is real and important, and therefore the times that I’ve experienced attacks, it’ actually deepened my commitment to God. It’s done the complete opposite of what the devil had hoped for,” he related.
“You could see the pure hatred and evil that the demons have for the exorcist, because demons have to obey exorcists. It’s by divine justice,” Fr. Lampert attested. “They can’t stand that they’re being commanded to do something by someone they consider to be inferior to themselves.”
The Indiana priest revealed that anytime he encounters someone, he can sense “whether or not there is a presence of evil in them” and has witnessed negative reactions even from people he doesn’t know, because “the devil knows who’s working to defeat him”:
I’ve encountered people who don’t even know who I am. And I can see the evil in them lashing out towards me. And it could be even if I’m in a public setting and I’m not dressed as a priest. But again, the demonic knows who is trying to defeat him. So I have witnessed the presence of evil in others, and I’ve also witnessed where the demonic knows who I am.
While most people do not experience “extraordinary” demonic activity, Fr Lampert added, many run up against the ordinary activity of the devil.
“The devil is an opportunist,” he said. “He may not be the cause of every problem because we do have free will, but if the devil sees an opportunity then he can take that. So, if somebody is experiencing brokenness in their lives, the devil can try to amplify that brokenness.”
The devil typically attacks in four stages, Fr. Lampert explained: first through deception, then division, followed by diversion – or attempts to substitute something for God – and finally discouragement or despair.
“The demonic can play on a person’s memory and imagination, because ultimately the devil will want us to make the same choice that he has made, namely the rejection of God. So, all these temptations are trying to challenge us to act contrary to God, to really disconnect ourselves from God,” he said.
“The human person needs God,” Fr. Lampert continued. “You know, it was Saint John Paul II who said that freedom, in the truest sense of the word, means to be obedient to God,”
“God needs to be at the foundation of human life. It doesn’t mean that everything is always going to be perfect,” he told Carlson. “It’s just recognizing that God has His rightful place to play in our lives. And when we reject that, there is a demand, because that’s exactly what [the devil] did.”