Claims Pope cast 'devil' out of disabled youth rejected
THE Vatican has denied that Pope Francis had performed an exorcism after an Italian religious television channel said footage of the pontiff blessing a boy in a wheelchair showed he had.
"The Holy Father did not intend to perform any exorcism," Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said in a statement, after the claims by TV 2000, which is owned by the Italian bishops' conference.
"As he often does with sick and suffering people who are presented to him, he simply intended to pray for the suffering person," Lombardi said.
The footage, taken immediately after Pentecostal mass on Sunday 19th May, shows the Pontiff approach the second of two wheelchair bound people, whose face is pixelled out.
After a priest leans across the boy or young man to tell Francis something, the Pope's expression becomes more serious, the voice-over notes.
He then grips the top of the subject's head firmly and is seen pushing him down into his wheel chair.
As this is happening the Pontiff recites an intense prayer, and the boy's mouth drops wide open and he exhales sharply, Italian press reports added this morning.
Francis's usual smile then returns and he continues with the traditional - and more gentle - Sunday greetings for sick or disabled visitors to St Peter's.
The Argentine Pope has made it quite clear since his election that he believes the Devil, whom refers to as "the Enemy" and "The Prince of this World" is a real force that needs to be fought constantly.
La Repubblica quotes an exorcism expert has saying: "It was a prayer of liberation from evil or even a real exorcism."
The former Pope, Benedict XVI never performed an exorcism, Francis is on record as having performed them, however, as was Benedict's predecessor John Paul II.