A ZENIT DAILY DISPATCH

Satan's Strategy of Confusion

Interview With Father Mendoza Pantoja of Archdiocese of Mexico

Part 1

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 oppression.

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 different eventualities.

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 threats.

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 previous one.

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


Part 2

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 appeared Thursday.

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 is true?

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 your life?

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 brothers.

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 I 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 science.

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 him.

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
 

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