From Sickness To Priestly Abuse, Expert Cites Mostly Hidden Role Of Evil Spirits
By Michael H. Brown
A major expert in deliverance and healing says there has been an upsurge of interest in the effect of evil spirits, including in the official Catholic Church, which long has been viewed as lagging in this field.
Dr. Francis MacNutt, a Catholic lay minister who operates the Christian Healing Ministry ( http://www.christianhealingmin.org/) in Florida and speaks internationally, cites recent meetings sponsored by religious officials and focused on deliverance.
"The Catholic Church is finding out about it big-time," says MacNutt. "My wife and I were both invited to a meeting by the Vatican a year and a half ago held on healing and sponsored by the Council of the Laity and Cardinal [J. Francis] Stafford was the moderator. A hundred and twenty people from the around the world were there, meeting with representatives of the Curia, especially the Congregation of Faith. A friend, Father Rufus Pereira, from India, was there giving a talk on deliverance ministry in the Church. They founded an international order of exorcists in 1993. At the first meeting they had seven priests. Now the meeting is up to hundreds -- extraordinary growth. The Vatican has called for bishops to appoint an exorcist in every diocese. The only difficulty is that there aren't many priests who are familiar with the ministry and know what to do."
But that may change, and none too soon. MacNutt, the author of bestsellers such as Healing and Deliverance From Evil Spirits, says his ministry is witnessing heavy demonic activity throughout our society. "We find it very common, but it is not being taught at the seminaries, and most priests and mainline Protestant ministers aren't familiar with it," notes MacNutt. "My wife is a psychotherapist and her experience is that about a third of her clients needed deliverance. These are not possessed people, but spirits are there and the people needed help."
MacNutt says he and others in the field are trying to identify sources of demonic activity, especially in psychological and physiological ills, but are cautious about exaggeration. "We try not to overextend it," he says. "Some people will just have a severe depression that's caused by perhaps organic imbalances. In other people it's situational, things they have not gotten over. The demonic can influence these and get involved in them, like a wound that has festered and becomes infected. We find that anything traumatic can have the demonic make it worse."
MacNutt maintains that there are actually "spirits of trauma" and "spirits of rejection" that play on emotional wounds. How often are they the major cause of an actual physical illness? "I'm not sure what the percentage would be," says MacNutt, "but we find it quite a bit. Just a few weeks ago we did a course at Regent University in Virginia Beach. We asked for two volunteers to show the group how you can pray, and one of the two was a woman who had cancer of the breast that had spread, so we started to pray on that level and suddenly she was in the midst of a deliverance.
"It seemed that the spirit was a spirit of cancer or infirmity or whatever you want to call it. We got a letter from a friend of hers today saying that the tumors went down and continue to go down. The tumors went down that night, the pain I think disappeared, and the spirits left. We find that's not too rare."
In some cases an illness may be caused or aggravated by spirits, in other cases it can be purely physiological, MacNutt points out -- citing Scriptural passages that in one case show Jesus casting out a spirit of epilepsy but at another point healing epilepsy itself -- as if there had been a "differential diagnosis." Do specific sources of evil -- for example the occult -- cause specific illnesses?
"I'm not sure what the answer to that is," says MacNutt, "but I met people like an Anglican priest in England who is suffering and it turned out that what happened was that when he was a missionary in Africa a witch doctor there put a curse on him and he hadn't even realized it. When we prayed, the curse lifted off, the spirits manifested, and the physical difficulties disappeared. It sounds weird but we find these things quite a bit. The witch doctors had been successful in getting him out of Africa, which was their purpose."
Dr. MacNutt has long been closely associated with well-known priests such as Father Michael Scanlan of Franciscan University and is himself a former priest (he left and married his wife in a union validated by the Church after a recent dispensation). MacNutt says that when he was a missionary in South America he ministered to priests who had been hexed after work in the barrios.
Are there specific parts of the U.S. that are especially afflicted?
"Oh, yeah," says Dr. MacNutt. "You'd have to have an overall picture of this -- a lot is done in secret, satanic-type stuff -- because the covens, the people who are really intentional about this, don't publicize this, so it's hard to get a grasp, but there are certain places like San Francisco. We're in touch with several women there who are victims of satanic ritual abuse, and that's a lot more prevalent than people realize. Most priests don't know anything about it but I asked these women, who were in touch with a number of other survivors, and they said there were at least forty victims they knew themselves [who were victims] just in that area."
Are there parts of the country under old Indian curses -- as some deliverance experts assert?
Yes, says MacNutt (whose wife is part Cherokee). Where there has been paganism, there is often plagued land. This goes for all ethnic groups. MacNutt says that he will soon be heading for Scotland, which is "really oppressed -- there is a lot of witchcraft and always has been, and MacBeth is a sign of that." MacNutt says that groups like Italians have occult problems that stem from belief in the "evil eye" or can be traced back to Rome's own history of paganism, with the same true of countries like Ireland and England.
It is a problem that knows no ethnic restriction nor respects any geographic boundaries.
As for the issue of sexual abuse by priests, MacNutt says that this too is often related to a spiritual influence, which seemed to arrive in a big way during the 1960s and 1970s. "We do know that there are these spirits that get going in someone's life, spirits of pornography and lust or whatever, and there seem to be an exceptional number of priests who became involved at that point [in time]," he told Spirit Daily. "People say it's no worse than the population at large, but it seems to be that the percentage is higher and I would expect that priests would have less a percentage. I think something is involved there. I don't want to put too much on homosexuality, but I did pray for one priest who is homosexual in orientation and it was a pretty big spirit. It took about an hour to deliver him. Not that everyone who has that inclination is responsible for it or a bad person or has a demon. But I was surprised by it. It was not a wimpy spirit. It came out roaring like a lion."
MacNutt says the toughest ones are the occult spirits -- all the way from kids who play the Ouija Board to adults who are serious and secretive about it.
That's the bad news. The good news is that all of this can be dispelled in one word: JESUS.
Book resources (in bookstore): Healing, Deliverance From Evil Spirits, and The Power to Heal]
Study Indicates 'Incurable' Rheumatoid Arthritis Affected By Healing Prayers
By Michael H. Brown
Healing and deliverance expert Dr. Francis MacNutt says that a formal and dramatic scientific experiment has demonstrated the reality of healing "incurable" disease.
MacNutt, a Catholic lay evangelist who with his wife operates a healing center in Jacksonville, Florida, says the experiment was reported in the Southern Medical Journal. "We prayed for forty rheumatoid arthritis patients for a three-day period in two groups and we chose rheumatoid arthritis because it is medically incurable at the present time," he says. "It was all on video tape. Two of the patients were totally healed, and most of them were improved. The possibility of what happened to these patients happening by chance was .0001. Anything better than .04 is statistically significant."
According to the journal, the patients were on average 62 years of age and had what is known as class-II or class-III rheumatoid arthritis -- a horrifically crippling disorder that can inflame and twist the joints of those who suffer to the point where many can no longer use their hands or walk. After five years about 33 percent can not work and after ten years approximately half have substantial functional disability.
The prayer study, which was authored by MacNutt as well as a medical doctor, Dr. Dale A. Mathews from Clearwater, Florida, indicated that the effects were not temporary. "Patients receiving in-person intercessory prayer showed significant overall improvement during 1-year follow-up," said the report. While symptoms can temporarily remit, and while there are periods when rheumatoid-arthritis sufferers feel relatively good, rarely does the disease "go away," according to a website maintained by medical experts at Duquesne University.
During the experiment, volunteers from the Christian Healing Ministries in Jacksonville administered in-person prayer as well as lectures on the nature of healing, God's role in it, and the impact of anger and lack of forgiveness. A total of six hours of personalized, hands-on "soaking" prayer was offered, in which several prayer ministers prayed aloud and laid their hands for prolonged periods over affected joints or other parts of each individual.
"One unexpected and unexplained finding was that the improvement in swollen and tender joints and reduction in pain and functional disability observed in our study was not accompanied by a parallel reduction in serum inflammatory markers," noted the study. "Therefore, it is possible that the detected clinical improvement might be attributable more to alteration of patients' perceptions regarding their illness than to changes in inflammatory pathways affecting their joints."
The study concluded that intercessory prayer "may be a useful adjunct to standard medical care in the care of certain patients with rheumatoid arthritis," careful scientific words that nonetheless carry a wallop -- indicating that even the strict protocols of science, which so often exclude the supernatural because it can not be measured, on occasion capture glimpses of spiritual forces. Studies by other researchers have indicated that healers can affect enzymes in test tubes and even cancer cells.
Return to Spiritdaily.comReturn to archive page You are at www.spiritdaily.org