|Interview With Father Mendoza Pantoja of Archdiocese of
MEXICO CITY, 16 SEPT. 2004 (ZENIT)
Satan exists and his strategy is to confuse, says the exorcist of the
Archdiocese of Mexico.
Father Pedro Mendoza Pantoja was one of the organizers of Mexico's first
National Meeting of Exorcists and Auxiliaries of Liberation, held Aug.
31-Sept. 2 at the headquarters of the bishops' conference. The meeting
drew 500 participants.
Father Mendoza Pantoja coordinates the work of eight exorcists, one for
each of the territorial vicariates of that diocese. He spoke of his work
with ZENIT. Part of this interview appears Friday.
Q: Who is an exorcist?
Father Mendoza Pantoja: He can be a bishop or a priest designated by him,
who by the mandate of Jesus Christ and in the name of God the Father, Son
and Holy Spirit recites a prayer in which, in an imperative way, in the
case of diabolic possession, orders Satan to depart from the one possessed
and leave him in total freedom, or in a deprecating form, that is, of
intercession or supplication, asking that, by the precious blood of Christ
and the intercession of the Virgin Mary, a person, place, house or object
be liberated from every demonic influence, be it infestation, obsession or
Q: Can anyone be an exorcist?
Father Mendoza Pantoja: No. According to the Gospel, Christ enriched his
apostles with charismatic gifts when he sent them to evangelize.
In Matthew 10:1 it says: "And he called to him his twelve disciples and
gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal
every disease and every infirmity." See also Matthew 16:17-18.
With that authority, it corresponds to bishops, successors of the
apostles, to exercise this ministry of expelling demons. But, according to
Canon 1172, they can designate, to exercise this ministry in a stable
manner or for a special case, a "pious, learned, prudent priest with
integrity of life." This is true for diabolic possessions and, therefore,
for exorcism itself, also called solemn exorcism.
But every priest through his ordination participates in the priesthood of
Christ and, with him, has the mission to liberate the faithful from all
obsessions, oppressions or demonic influences, with deprecating prayers of
intercession and supplication, with evangelization and administration of
the sacraments, primarily penance and the Eucharist.
Similarly, all priests are exorcists in regard to the pastoral endeavor of
liberation within their mission to evangelize, and this is true, by the
command of Christ; he does not need to be designated to carry out
so-called minor exorcism. Lay people cannot be exorcists.
Q: The meeting you organized also gathered "Auxiliaries of Liberation."
Who are these persons and what do they do?
Father Mendoza Pantoja: Auxiliaries of Liberation are: priests who do not
have the character of official exorcists; doctors; psychiatrists;
religious; and lay people who help the exorcist priest in discernment or
in the exercise of his ministry, either with prayer of intercession or in
Priests help with prayer of liberation and the laity with prayer of
intercession. A priest who is not an official exorcist can carry out a
minor exorcism, also called prayer of liberation, helped in turn by all
the laity who support him in discernment and with prayers of intercession.
The laity cannot recite prayers of liberation.
Q: If I am not mistaken, this was Mexico's first meeting of exorcists and
one of the first of these characteristics in the world. It seems that in
the last 40 years the figure of the exorcist was disappearing. Is this an
impression that corresponds with reality?
Father Mendoza Pantoja: Indeed, it is. The causes are varied, but we could
say that they are included in the great challenge that the second half of
the last century presented to the Church in her task of evangelization.
In the first half, Satan attacked humanity in the field of ideas and
thought: rationalism, materialism, Gnosticism, Freemasonry, Rosicrucianism,
sectarianism, Socialism, Marxism-Leninism, etc., which separate man from
God. On one hand, the negation of a personal God and also the negation of
the existence of Satan as a personal being, exchanging the true God for an
impersonal god that identifies itself with this material world and
reducing Satan to a mere symbol.
Such an influence also infected our theologians, who in recent times no
longer spoke of the devil or the angels.
But as a counterbalance, man felt nostalgia for God. His search for the
supernatural, as a solution to the problems afflicting him because of his
separation from God, made him fall into the clutches of the New Age, which
with its deceitful spiritualities and fictitious magical and esoteric
solutions has opened the doors to the manifestations of the devil in many
persons who have fallen into New Age esoteric and magical practices.
For this reason, in the permanent mission of the New Evangelization the
Church has found it necessary to revive something that she felt was of the
past, but which is urgent in our times: to proclaim to those who have
fallen away the redemption of Christ who came to liberate us from Satan's
Q: It is said that in some countries the progress of Satanic sects has not
been addressed adequately by the Church for lack of exorcists. Do you
think there is some truth in this?
Father Mendoza Pantoja: The answer to this question is related to the
Indeed, our faithful and priests themselves have been engulfed in the sea
of confusions to which the New Age leads us with its mixture of ideas,
deceits and lies, manipulating Eastern spiritualities mixed with
pantheism, as well as traditional medicines, which in themselves are a
gift from God and have nothing diabolical, but whose efficacy is used by
promoters of the New Age to give themselves credit and make one believe
that everything they say is true.
It also took us bishops and priests by surprise, without knowing what to
do or how to act in this sea of confusions. And some were filled with fear
by the phenomenology presented in those affected by the devil. Or it led
them to protect themselves in a crass skepticism in the face of these
realities, attributing them to psychological problems or illnesses that
are difficult to cure and so did not attend to them.
Moreover, seminaries have not given preparation to address these problems.
For all these reasons, through meetings and congresses both at the
national as well as the international level, we are seeking formation both
for ourselves, the official exorcists, as well as for all priests and for
the laity involved in the pastoral endeavor of liberation. ZE04091622
MEXICO CITY, 17 SEPT. 2004 (ZENIT)
Evaluating what are real cases of Satanic possession take serious
discernment, says the exorcist of the Archdiocese of Mexico.
Father Pedro Mendoza Pantoja was one of the organizers of Mexico's first
National Meeting of Exorcists and Auxiliaries of Liberation, held recently
at the headquarters of the bishops' conference.
Father Mendoza Pantoja coordinates the work of eight exorcists in his
archdiocese. He spoke of his work with ZENIT. Part 1 of this interview
Q: Many, perhaps even believers, deny that there can be people who are
possessed by the devil. They think, rather, that it is a question of
psychological or psychiatric problems. How does an exorcist distinguish
between cases of possession and disturbances of another nature?
Father Mendoza Pantoja: Canon law and the new exorcisms ritual itself, as
well as the Catechism of the universal Church, establish that, before
carrying out a major exorcism, there must be discernment: whether it is a
question of a real possession or a simple diabolical obsession or
oppression, making use also of the previous advice of doctors and
psychiatrists so that they can give their diagnosis, the priest always
being the one who must ultimately decide because, in addition, the ritual
of exorcisms indicates which are the signs that can tell us or lead us to
suspect a real diabolical possession: to speak or understand unknown
languages as if they were one's own; to reveal hidden or distant things;
to manifest strength beyond one's age or physical condition, to vehemently
separate oneself from God, aversion to the most holy name of Jesus, of the
Virgin Mary, and of the saints, to sacred images, places and objects.
Q: For many people, however, these cases of diabolical possession seem
rather like Hollywood film stories. It seems that the devil's strategy is
to make one believe he does not exist. As an exorcist, do you think this
Father Mendoza Pantoja: In fact, as I see it, Satan uses several
strategies to separate us from God.
What the devil is interested in is to confuse us, either by making us
believe that he does not exist and that, as he doesn't exist, neither do
hell and heaven and so we need not be afraid of being far from God.
Moreover, he manifests himself instead with oppressions and obsessions to
torment terribly those who have opened the doors to him, so that they will
be afraid of him and not try to close the doors to him and trust him.
This is how we can explain Satanic worship and holy death to obtain power,
his favor and protection. Satan is the father of lies and deceit.
Q: All ministries in the Church are a grace of God and a service to
brothers. Do you yourself perceive the ministry of exorcist as a grace for
Father Mendoza Pantoja: My whole life is a grace from God: my baptism the
gift that makes me a child of God, member of the Church, and co-heir with
Christ of his glory; the priestly ministry, the gift that enables me to
participate in his redemption and his work of salvation and service to my
The ministry of exorcist is also a gift of his grace and mercy, which in
my littleness, insignificance and limitations, enables me to experience,
as his instrument, his liberating and salvific power in the service of my
brothers, which encourages me and impels me to adhere to him ever more to
participate in his victory and, with it, in his glory.
Q: What is the service of the exorcist to the Church and to your brothers
like? In other words, is there a case you can tell us about in which your
ministry of exorcist enabled you to experience in fullness your vocation
as man and priest?
Father Mendoza Pantoja: There are many cases in which, practicing the
prayer of liberation
over the past 24 years, also when I was not yet an exorcist
have seen the power in which God makes us priests participants in the
service of our suffering brothers. The therapy of faith with the prayer of
healing, liberation, and forgiveness, with which one succeeds in something
that is impossible and not within the reach of medical and psychological
Now, as an exorcist for the past six years, I have attended several cases
of diabolical oppressions and obsessions. Tormented and already despairing
people, who after having gone to all kinds of specialists, quacks and
medicine men, have worsened their situation.
They think they are diabolically possessed and ask anxiously for exorcism.
In some cases, there have been signs that have led me to suspect a
diabolical presence or possession and, even without being certain, to
carry out the so-called diagnostic exorcism, that is, imperative prayer,
to succeed in making them enter a peace and tranquility without going so
far as to have a full solemn exorcism, it being enough to continue with
the prayer of liberation.
It has been a great satisfaction to succeed in the liberation of my
brothers, through the service of my humble ministry, by the power of the
prayer of intercession and to see the growth of their faith, thanks to an
evangelization and catechesis that leads to their conversion, the renewal
of their faith, and their fuller adherence to the Lord, and to see them
continue their lives full of love and confidence in God.
Q: What should a person do who thinks he is a victim of diabolical
possession or who knows someone who might be in that situation?
Father Mendoza Pantoja: He must go to his parish priest and make a good
confession so that, in the first instance, that priest can take care of
If his parish priest discovers that there is a demonic influence but no
signs of diabolical possession, he must pray with him supported by a
liberation team and insert him in a group of evangelization or growth in
the faith or in some parish ministry.
If the parish priest perceives signs that make him suspect a diabolical
possession or does not feel able to address the problem, he must then be
directed to the exorcist of his diocese or the nearest exorcist. He must
never go to medicine men or make use of magical cures. ZE04091723