Windswept House? Fr. Amorth says Devil is ‘at work inside Vatican’

The 1998 Malachi Martin novel, Windswept House, opens with a Satanic ritual performed at St. Paul’s chapel inside Vatican City by members at every level of the Catholic clergy. The purpose? To open the door of the Church to the Devil’s influence, and lead to the destruction of Catholicism from within. 

The premise of the book would have been controversial enough, but Martin’s claim that 95% of the story was based on actual events (and 85% of the characters were based on real people) made it moreso.  

But is it a preposterous assertion that God’s own priests, bishops and cardinals would participate in the work of destruction? The famous vision of Pope Leo XIII  in 1884 would seem to suggest otherwise:

…They recounted that Pope Leo XIII was climbing the steps to the altar when he suddenly stopped, stared fixedly at something in the air and with a terrible look on his face, collapsed to the floor (some accounts say he fell shrieking). The Pope was carried off by those around him to another room where he came around. As one rendition of the story tells it:

“When asked what had happened, he explained that, as he was about to leave the foot of the altar, he suddenly heard voices – two voices, one kind and gentle, the other guttural and harsh. They seemed to come from near the tabernacle. As he listened, he heard the following conversation:

The guttural voice, the voice of Satan in his pride, boasted to Our Lord: “I can destroy your Church.”

The gentle voice of Our Lord: “You can? Then go ahead and do so.”

Satan: “To do so, I need more time and more power.”

Our Lord: “How much time? How much power?”

Satan: “75 to 100 years, and a greater power over those who will give themselves over to my service.”

Our Lord: “You have the time, you will have the power. Do with them what you will.”

Following this, the Holy Father was so shaken that he sat down and composed the Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel, which was then instituted as a universal prayer to be said after every low Mass throughout the world.  Some would argue that the suppression of this practice by the Sacred Congregation of Rites just 80 years later – nicely within the Devil’s timeline – counts as evidence of the effectiveness of his challenge. 

Today, we again hear the alarming assertion that the devil is “in the Vatican,” this time from Fr. Gabriel Amorth, considered the world’s most experienced exorcist. In his recently published memoirs, Fr. Amorth makes claims that seem to have come straight from Martin’s novel. According the The Times (UK):

Sex abuse scandals in the Roman Catholic Church are proof that that “the Devil is at work inside the Vatican”, according to the Holy See’s chief exorcist.

Father Gabriele Amorth, 85, who has been the Vatican’s chief exorcist for 25 years and says he has dealt with 70,000 cases of demonic possession, said that the consequences of satanic infiltration included power struggles at the Vatican as well as “cardinals who do not believe in Jesus, and bishops who are linked to the Demon”.

He added: “When one speaks of ‘the smoke of Satan’ [a phrase coined by Pope Paul VI in 1972] in the holy rooms, it is all true – including these latest stories of violence and paedophilia.”

Not everyone thinks Fr. Amorth’s claims are credible. The Times also interviewed Father José Antonio Fortea Cucurull, “a Rome-based exorcist”, who said that

Father Amorth had “gone well beyond the evidence” in claiming that Satan had infiltrated the Vatican corridors.

“Cardinals might be better or worse, but all have upright intentions and seek the glory of God,” he said. Some Vatican officials were more pious than others, “but from there to affirm that some cardinals are members of satanic sects is an unacceptable distance.”

I admit, I question the judgment of an exorcist who looks for empirical evidence of the machinations of the Devil. One of the more profound statements I’ve seen on the Satanic strategy came from Kevin Spacey’s character Verbal in the film, The Usual Suspects. At the end of his description of the workings of the mythical villain Keyser Soze, Verbal concludes: “The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist. And like that – poof! He’s gone.” 

As someone who has seen the diabolical up close and personal, I know the truth in this statement. I’ve been present at no fewer than half a dozen deliverances of persons under demonic influence (performed by an authorized diocesan priest) and while I never enjoy speaking about these experiences, they have left a lasting impression upon me.  The Devil, cunning as he is, seems to take two approaches in the destruction of souls. The first, and by far most effective and common, is that mentioned above – he conceals his presence, leaving his work undiscovered and unchallenged. The second, more dangerous to his success by far, is the role of terrorist. This latter comes when even his subtlety is noticed and thus rejected by a person of sufficient spiritual intuition, at which point he tries to frighten them into submission through the more dramatic manifestations we’ve all come to associate with the demonic. This approach can be effective – a friend once indicated to me that she never wanted to become “too holy” because she didn’t want to experience the supernatural abuse suffered by so many of the saints. But as men like St. John Vianney proved, even the harshest attacks by Satan could become a source of spiritual consolation, leaving the Devil powerless against someone infused with God’s grace. The problem the Devil faces in showing himself is paradoxical – if he exists, so must the God he works against. This is why he almost always prefers to operate under the cover of darkness. 

Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich was one of the mystics who saw with prophetic clarity the infiltration of the Church’s hierarchy by those under Satanic influence. Among her visions were the following predictions, which seem eerily similar to those warnings offered by Fr. Amorth:

Then I saw an apparition of the Mother of God, and she said that the tribulation would be very great…They must pray above all for the Church of Darkness to leave Rome.


I saw deplorable things: they were gambling, drinking, and talking in church; they were courting women. All sorts of abominations were perpetrated there. Priests allowed everything and said Mass with much irreverence. I saw that few of them were still godly, and only a few of them had sound views on things.


Among the strangest things that I saw, were long processions of bishops. Their thoughts and utterances were made known to me through images issuing from their mouths. Their faults towards religion were shown by external deformities. A few had only a body, with a dark cloud of fog instead of a head. Others had only a head, their bodies and hearts were like thick vapors. Some were lame; others were paralytics; others were asleep or staggering.

I saw what I believe to be nearly all the bishops of the world, but only a small number were perfectly sound. I also saw the Holy Father– God-fearing and prayerful. Nothing left to be desired in his appearance, but he was weakened by old age and by much suffering…

Then I saw that everything that pertained to Protestantism was gradually gaining the upper hand, and the Catholic religion fell into complete decadence. Most priests were lured by the glittering but false knowledge of young school-teachers, and they all contributed to the work of destruction.

In those days, Faith will fall very low, and it will be preserved in some places only…

It’s difficult for some of us to believe that the Devil – whom we know exists as an article of faith – could be so at work even within the Church itself. And yet we’ve received countless warnings that it would be so, even from Christ himself. His promise is both comforting and frightening:

And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Mt. 16:18)

For Christ to offer such a guarantee means that the “gates of hell” would not only try to prevail against the Church, but would come so close to success as to appear to have done so. That this apparent success would be defeated by His power and the efficacy of the Church is a great consolation to us, but we should not presume it will be easy. We must all remain vigilant, and pray that we will be preserved from the enemy, and that his influence will be defeated – not only in our own lives, but in the Church itself. 



Steve Skojec serves as the Director of Community Relations for a professional association. He is a graduate of Franciscan University of Steubenville, where he earned a BA in Communications and Theology. His passions include writing, photography, social media, and an avid appreciation of science fiction. Steve lives in Northern Virginia with his wife Jamie and their five children.

  • Rich

    Nothing like a house divided to help it fall. It’s never going to end… The folks on this site continue to amaze me.

    “The bishos are wrong about health care!” “We are right about everything!” “The Devil is taking over!”

    Enough people here at IC are contributing to foolishness that only creates more foolishness. Honestly.

    I need to go, the sky is falling and I dont want to get hit. (sarcasm)

    I’d wish you blessings but my guess is you will mistake it for the devil’s words and deny them. Good luck, anyway.

  • JC

    If you look at it from the perspective of psychology, the higher you get in any given organization, the higher percentage you are going to find of sociopaths.

  • Scott Johnston

    If you look at it from the perspective of psychology, the higher you get in any given organization, the higher percentage you are going to find of sociopaths.

    I don’t agree at all. Why is this supposedly true from the perspective of psychology? This at least goes against my experience as well as against common sense. “Sociopaths” (or, merely troubled people), when they are present among the upper echelons of society, are always more visible and much more noticed. That does not mean they are more prevalent among the higher-ups. Just because a CEO acting crazy gets written about in the press doesn’t mean there aren’t proportionally lots more ordinary Joe’s acting crazy. But we don’t notice the ordinary Joe’s unless they are our own brother or next door neighbor.

  • georgie-ann

    my experiences–basically unsought, but what i’ve encountered nonetheless–would tend to support the premise that there IS deliberate infiltration going on, of those representing the forces of darkness within the Catholic Church,…

    some have learned/sought their (evil) craft elsewhere & brought it in, influencing/bewitching others with their dramatic/sensational demon-strations–(would you check out that word, by golly?!)–of “gifts of healing” & “words of knowledge,”…these are passed off as “charismatic gifts” of the Holy Spirit, but in reality seem to be fueled by a controlling & negative focus, more akin to the aura of a psychic,…eventually, the bad “fruits” appear, some years down the line, which are usually more illness & debility, a lot of craziness & confusion, and more control, negativity, divisiveness, & animosity,…

    in a geographic area containing a few small cities & towns, and quite a few Catholic churches, parishes & shrines, (these under the auspices of different Catholic orders, etc.), i was forced by circumstances to come to grips with the fact that “all was not well” in some of these places,…i don’t have enough experience to generalize, but in this area i would be more apprehensive about the smaller & more insular groups, certainly checking everything out now before “jumping right in!”,…

    as Steve recounts, when you go “eye to eye & toe to toe & nose to nose” with the devil & manage to live to tell about it, you really don’t want to say much else,…except that the phenomenon exists, & the farther away from it one is, & the closer to the Blessed Sacrament one is, the better,…so much better,…

    i do believe that perhaps their influence is on the wane, and that good people’s eyes are opening,…basically, i think the devil will end up overplaying his hand, & will have exposed himself beyond remedy,…

    once you see him for what he is–beyond his ability to threaten, seduce, & intimidate, and beyond the glitz & glimmer he can masquerade in–he’s nothing special,…just a disgusting, rotten specimen of perverted vermin,…

    once he is exposed, (even the “intellectual atheistic” kind), he’ll lose whatever illusory/delusory powers he has had, and certainly no one will find anything special to desire or follow in him,…

    however, he will be taking some down with him,…rejoice & be exceedingly glad if you have escaped his wretched & misleading tentacles,…

  • Scott Johnston

    Also, “sociopaths” and those under some sort of demonic influence are not equivalent (though they might occur together). The post above speaks about the latter not the former.

  • Zoe Romanowsky

    One thing I don’t understand is what’s so “new” about Satan’s influence in the Church… It’s been there since the beginning. And if you read history, most eras have had more than a few cardinals and bishops cavorting with women (and men), and involved with all manner of corruption. We should expect Satan to be alive and well in the Church. That’s not an excuse, but it shouldn’t be a shocker.

  • Christine

    Last I checked, The devil has been making his rounds on earth since the Garden of Eden.[smiley=evil]

    None of us are exempt from his shennanigans, but all of us can be saved through Jesus, our Lord and Savior, who will never abandon us, or his Bride the Church.

    It is obvious that God is weeding the gardens right now and separating the wheat from the chaff. Good and evil in the Church and in the world itself are becoming more obvious if one watches the signs, as God himself ordered.

    We pick our sides every day. People like Mr. Tony Adams and many others are out there, waiting for every opportunity to destroy all that is beautiful because they hate the light and wish to destroy it. Please pray for Mr. Adams and all other Priests (active, retired and fallen away). They need your help because they are under attack by the devil in ways we cannot possibly comprehend.

    BTW – My husband read the IC article “Catholics Organize to Promote Gay Marriage” and its subsequent comments section and even he (who is not religious) noticed the stark contrast between good and evil. If you haven’t read the comments, you should take an hour of your life and do so, it reads like a book and maybe should be published one day…

    I wouldn’t be surprised if any of what the article above posits is actually true. This is, in fact, part of the eternal story. The good thing about this story is that God wins! So be joyful, be watchful and pray for the lost sheep so that the Good Shepherd may bring them back into the fold.


  • Michael

    For Christ to offer such a guarantee means that the “gates of hell” would not only try to prevail against the Church, but would come so close to success as to appear to have done so.

    I have often wondered about the modern understanding of this passage being that it promises Christ’s protection of his Church from the demonic assaults. The thing is gates don’t attack anything. They are defensive battlements. Maybe what he promised is that if the day ever comes when the Church decides to storm the gates of hell that it will not fail. Our faith seems to not be enough for us to go on the offensive as we comfort ourselves that our collapsing lines do not mean our imminent demise as an institution. Maybe so but maybe God is waiting for our bayonet charge before we will get the full measure of his support.

  • JC


    You apparently don’t know what a sociopath is. A sociopath is not necessarily someone who “acts crazy.” A sociopath is someone who a) lacks a moral conscience, b) acts completely in self-interest, c) is an expert liar and manipulator, d) is often incompetent but knows how to get credit for others’ work while blaiming others for his or her own mistakes. Sociopaths only obvious to the few people who are willing to stand up to them, to whom they become belligerent. But it’s all done as behind-closed doors as possible, and then the sociopath, whether by manipulation or by simply intimidating any other involved parties, turns the tables on the “whistleblower.”

    A few CEOs acting crazy? Just about every CEO is a classic sociopath. My brother in law is an engineer who has worked for several corporations in his career, and, unfortunately, at least two of those corporations have been involved in the scandals of the early decade, and another one was Circuit City, which, of course, went out of business last year. He said that he and others in middle management were predicting the downfall of the company, but the upper echelons didn’t care–they just wanted to secure their golden parachutes.

    In every case, including his current employer, the executives have all acted only in self-interest, demeaning the lower-level employees constantly, while reaping numerous rewards for themselves in spite of corporate troubles. When he worked for Tyco, the CEO used to berate the employees about a work ethic, claiming he worked 20 hours a day to keep the company running and only slept 4 hours at night. After he was indicted, it was revealed that the CEO hardly worked at all, embezzled all sorts of money and spent a fortune on frivolous luxuries.

    If that’s not a sociopath, what is?

    Now, is it that hard to believe that someone who is amoral and only acts in self-interest would also be involved in direct occultism?

    More importantly, in other blogs that have discussed the Fr. Amorth claims, the usual response is, “How could someone live that kind of a double life, being at the Vatican and yet being a Satanist?” Well, it’s becaues they’re sociopaths.

  • Doug Sirman

    “Cardinals might be better or worse, but all have upright intentions and seek the glory of God,”

    Unless his understanding of the word “all” means something significantly different from what the rest of the world understands to be “all,” then this statement is false.

  • Austin

    The Devil is real and dangerous, but I have seen people, often Evangelicals, fall back on the classic “The Devil made me do it” scenario as a defense. Whether the Devil “made” them do it or not, this is not a defense. People need to take responsibility for their own actions, and live with the consequences of those actions. Everyone is tempted and to try to weasel out of responsibility with that “Devil made me do it” business is less than honest. We have free will, we are not helpless.

    JC, I have disageed with you in the past, but you are spot on about sociopathic CEO’s. There is nothing wrong with making an honest dollar, but so many of these guys are nothing but con-men with Ivy League degrees. They run companies into the ground, enriching themselves, but sticking it to employees, shareholders and customers. I am a supporter of honest capitalism, not the “casino capitalism” and “predatory capitalism” that we have seen so often in the past few years.

    I think that most Bishops are good men. In any group, you have a few rotten apples. Since the Church is not a democracy, Bishops have a lot of power. They are answerable to Rome, but short of that, they are really absolute monarchs. It takes a strong and righteous man to follow the straight and narrow and avoid being seduced by power. We hear so much about sex, but I think that the real problem is being seduced by power. surrounding oneself with sychopants and flunkies who tell them what they want to hear. A large does of humility is a necessary thing. Cardinal Peter O’Connor of New York, a man who was a “Prince of the Church” used to work in a Hospital in his spare time, emptying bed pans and doing that kind of work.
    Perhaps the good Cardinal understood that this was necessary in order for him to keep his feet on the ground?

  • I am not Spartacus

    Fantastic. Kudos. And thank you for writing it.

    Long ago I read about Pope Leo’s vision and the memory of it has never faded.

    I think it is a perfect Lenten Post and reminds us the the Path to Perdition is wide and easy to follow while the Path to Salvation is narrow and hard.

    It is much easier for those whose heart is anchored in Tradition to keep the Four Last Things in mind – Death, Judgment, Heaven, and Hell – and it simply and plainly true that The Extraordinary Form of Mass is more accomplished in memorably placing before our minds and souls these Eschatological Truths than is the Normative mass.

    All one has to do is just consider for a moment that the current President and Vice President of The USCCB are Prelates who succored,supported, and promoted priests who were known sexual predators and not only have they not had the honor to resign their positions, they are accorded all manner of honour and deference by their brother Bishops while volunteers in the Church are subjected to finger-printing and back-ground checks.

    It is a scandal so enormous yet so in keeping with these sad times that it goes unnoticed and rarely is it spoken about.

  • Scott Johnston

    JC, I didn’t think you meant sociopath literally up in no. 2. I took you as speaking with hyperbole.

    But my position remains, regardless of personal anecdotal experiences, I simply don’t believe as you apparently do that most CEO’s are literally sociopaths. That is a level of cynicism about American society I do not share. And I don’t think I am naive. Certainly there is too much selfishness in business, without doubt. There are thousands of corporations in America. Some of them are tainted by bad leadership, a few of whom may even be literal sociopaths. But to generalize and say all CEO’s are sociopaths is itself, it seems to me, an excessively paranoid and dark view of human society.

    There are people who believe that because of the recent scandals, all priests are child abusers. But this is obviously not true, and is also grievously unjust to the vast majority of priests who would never do such things. But for a person who has personally experienced abuse he might not be able to see the clergy as anything other than abusers. Much grace and healing is needed.

    Similarly, personal bad experiences with business leaders does not justify painting them all as literal sociopaths.

    As with so many issues, we (foremost including myself) ought to spend more effort looking at ourselves. How is my life falling short of the example of Christ? If we allow the Lord to shape us into Saints, we will have the greatest possible positive impact on others.

  • Mark

    The devil is historically at work inside the democratic
    party as well.

  • Mark

    Since the Old Testament events are a prefigurement of the
    New, I wonder if the Old Testament Sandhedrin putting Christ
    on trial, in a nonunanamous decision, is what we are to expect
    to happen in our own Beloved Mother Church? Some of the
    heirarchy splitting and putting the Pope on “trial” and
    rejecting his authority or something of that nature. Wasn’t
    it in the prophet Daniel, that there is a vision of the Old
    Temple, and attached to the Temple a secret room with strange
    symbols and drawings on the wall?

  • georgie-ann

    Christine,…i took your advice!,…thanks,…i had stopped reading that thread way before the dramatic end & missed lots of information,…

    JC,…i like your definition & application of ‘sociopath,’ and i agree that this country spawns and gives a pass to way too many of them,…

  • Christine

    You’re welcome smilies/smiley.gif

  • Leonard

    Great,Great Article and so true, the power of prayer is are greatest weapon in this war