Category Archives: CATHOLIC CHURCH

The priest who had the number of the beast:

Father Gabriel Amorth (pictured), who was the Vatican's chief exorcist, was convinced he faced evil incarnate one morning in 1997 when a young Italian man was brought to his small consulting room in Rome

Father Gabriel Amorth (pictured), who was the Vatican’s chief exorcist, was convinced he faced evil incarnate one morning in 1997 when a young Italian man was brought to his small consulting room in Rome

The priest who had the number of the beast: As the Vatican’s chief exorcist for 30 years, Father Gabriel Amorth claimed to have dealt with the devil 60,000 times. Now a new book tells his head-spinning story

  • Father Gabriel Amorth often asked to help people whose troubles were mundane
  • But he is convinced he faced evil incarnate one morning in 1997 in Rome, Italy
  • Young Italian man was brought accompanied by a by his priest and a translator


As the Vatican’s chief exorcist, Father Gabriel Amorth was often asked to help people whose troubles turned out to be far more mundane than demonic possession.

However, he was convinced he faced evil incarnate one morning in 1997 when a young Italian man was brought to his small consulting room in Rome.

The peasant was accompanied by his priest and another man. The latter was a translator.

For while the afflicted man spoke only Italian, the evil spirit inside him spoke perfect English, he was told.

Fr Amorth started the exorcism in Latin and the moment he mentioned Jesus’s name, the young man fixed his gaze on him and began to yell curses and threats in English, then spitting and making out as if about to attack him.

When the exorcist arrived at the prayer Praecipio tibi (‘I command you’), the demon briefly went quiet.

‘But then, screaming and howling, the demon burst forth and looked straight at him, drooling saliva from the young man’s mouth,’ writes Marcello ­Stanzione, a fellow Catholic priest who worked with Fr Amorth.

Fr Amorth continued the ‘rite of liberation’, demanding the demonic presence reveal its name. He was shocked when he was told it was Lucifer himself. Momentarily shaken to be confronting the Devil, he nevertheless ploughed on.

The possessed man resumed his shrieking, twisting his head back and rolling his eyes, his back arched for quarter of an hour. The room became extremely cold and ice crystals formed on the windows and walls.

Moments after the exorcist ordered Lucifer to abandon the peasant, the young man’s body stiffened and began to levitate, hovering three feet in the air for several minutes before collapsing into a chair.

Finally, Satan admitted defeat, announcing the exact day and hour when he would leave the man’s body. It sounds like the stuff of horror fiction.

But Fr Stanzione insists it all happened. He has just written a book, The Devil Is Afraid Of Me, containing astonishing new details — including the horrific demonic encounter in 1997 — about the extraordinary life of Fr Amorth.

A man who was dubbed the Dean of Exorcists but who in the flesh looked more like a friendly tortoise than a grim vanquisher of evil, Fr Amorth said he conducted a staggering 60,000 exorcisms over a 30-year period. 

The Pope’s chief exorcist died aged 91 in 2016, prompting national mourning in Italy, where an estimated 500,000 people visit an exorcist each year.

Although as official exorcist for the diocese of Rome he was the Catholic Church’s most famous and controversial exorcist, he was far from its only one.

There are at least 400 in the world. Even in the traditionally sceptical UK, the church says it is carrying out an increasing number of exorcisms.

Most of his colleagues prefer to practise their peculiar craft in the shadows — and the church, wary of ridicule, encourages that — but Fr Amorth was more than happy to discuss how he fought the powers of darkness.

The Bible records that Jesus himself drove out demons but provides few details, leaving ­Hollywood to fill in the blanks.

The terrifying 1973 film The ­Exorcist remains the go-to reference work, its story of a little girl transformed into a projectile-vomiting, blaspheming horror was loosely based on a reallife exorcism in the U.S. Fr Amorth said it was his favourite film, arguing that although the special effects were over-the-top, it was ‘substantially’ accurate and helped people understand his work.

The possessed ‘isn’t a bad person, only a suffering one,’ he claimed.

The youngest of five sons of a lawyer in the town of Modena, Fr Amorth fought as a teenager in the Italian resistance in World War II (earning a bravery medal).

He later became a lawyer himself and briefly worked for the future Italian prime minister Giulio Andreotti before taking holy orders in 1951.

It was in 1986 that he became an apprentice exorcist and he went on to set up the International Association of Exorcists in 1990. 

He initially conducted exorcisms in Rome’s famous Church of the Holy Stairs until the shrieks drove away the faithful.

He then moved to the headquarters of his order, the Paulist Fathers, and converted a small, nine by 15ft room into his exorcism room — well away from the street so passers-by couldn’t hear the screaming and call the police.

Half a dozen chairs lined the walls for his assistant exorcists and the afflicted’s loved ones, and a worn-out brown velvet armchair for the patient.

Particularly troubled souls might have to be tied down with straps on a small bed.

The patient would always be violent so exorcists never practise alone. 

The walls were decorated with eight crucifixes, pictures of Mary and one of the Archangel Michael, leader of God’s army.

He would also have a photo of Pope John Paul II which apparently made devils ‘particularly irritable’.

The priest kept the tools of his trade in an old briefcase: two wooden crucifixes, an aspergillum for sprinkling holy water and a vial of consecrated oil. He also used a purple priest’s stole, wrapping it round the patient’s neck, and a book of prayers containing the official exorcism formulae.

He was famous for his sense of humour — not the obvious prerequisite for an exorcist — and always started off each ritual by literally thumbing his nose at the Devil.

According to Marcello Stanzione, during an exorcism a demon accused him of being a glutton. ‘Well, what’s it to you?,’ he shot back.

A favourite Amorth quip was to say: ‘You know why the devil flees when he sees me? Because I’m uglier than he is.’

Although the Catholic Church officially recognises exorcism, its modernisers see it as a medieval hangover that plays on superstition to strengthen religious devotion.

Fr Amorth freely admitted many who came to him had mental problems best dealt with by a psychologist, and he estimated he only came across around 100 genuine cases of possession.

People came to Fr Amorth from as far away as the UK and Spain after having trouble finding exorcists closer to home. His exorcisms could involve a single straightforward prayer or take months and repeated ceremonies.

It could even take years. Early in his career, he helped an exorcist named Fr Negrini near Brescia, northern Italy, with a supposedly possessed 14-year-old girl. 

When Fr Amorth joined Negrini in a session with the girl, the latter asked the demon: ‘Why have you taken this girl.’

It replied: ‘Because she is the best of the parish.’ It took Negrini another 12 years to free the girl, says Stanzione. Fr Amorth would carry out some exorcisms on the telephone and even on Skype.

Appointments lasted on average 30 minutes and Fr Amorth could conduct five every morning, doing paperwork in between.

Typical symptoms of demonic procession could be mundane, such as violent headaches and stomach cramps, he said, so it was easy to confuse it with an ordinary illness.

He often wouldn’t know for sure until he had conducted the rituals and observed the reaction. He said the Devil particularly hated hearing Latin and often preferred to speak in English, even when the possessed person couldn’t usually speak a word of it.

They also liked to spit — experienced exorcists hold a cloth near their face in readiness — and, rather more alarmingly, vomit shards of glass or pieces of iron, and even rose petals.

Fr Amorth kept a collection of regurgitated nails, keys and plastic figurines to prove it.

On one occasion, he claimed a devil said a possessed woman would bring up a transistor radio and, sure enough, she began spitting out pieces of it. Almost supernatural strength was not infrequent.

Fr Amorth said he once saw a possessed boy of 11 hurling off three big policemen as they tried to hold him down and a ten-year-old pick up a huge table.

How did all these unfortunates come to be possessed?

In 90 per cent of cases, Fr Amorth blamed Satanists or ‘someone who has acted with Satanic perfidy’. 

The remaining cases he blamed on people participating in practices such as seances.

Most of those he saw were middle-aged women, a fact he blamed on their weakness for seeing fortune tellers, who remain very popular in Italy.

Just months before the priest’s death in 2016, William Friedkin — the Oscar-winning director of The Exorcist — became the first person to be allowed to film him perform an actual exorcism.

The resulting documentary makes for unsettling viewing as the patient, an Italian woman in her late 30s, thrashes violently, shouting defiance in a guttural voice that — for whatever reason — simply doesn’t sound human.

Fr Amorth believed the woman was genuinely possessed, after being cursed by her brother and his girlfriend, who were satanists. Friedkin, an agnostic who hadn’t expected to see anything authentic, said the experience was ‘terrifying’.

Top neurosurgeons and psychiatrists he showed his film to were genuinely flummoxed. Cynics might wonder why only those who genuinely believe in the Devil seem to be possessed by him.

For Fr Amorth, who railed against the scepticism of the modern age, such cynicism suits Lucifer just fine.

‘The Devil is always hiding,’ he warned, ‘and the thing he wants above all is that we don’t believe he exists’. 


Guatemala blocks entry to Dutch ship providing abortions

| Fri Feb 24, 2017 | 4:30am EST


Guatemala’s army detained a boat carrying a supply of abortion pills on Thursday and prevented it from picking up women seeking to end their pregnancies, saying the move was prohibited by the country’s constitution.

The boat, operated by Dutch nonprofit Women on Waves, was in military custody with some of its seven crew members still aboard, after landing at a private pier at the Port of San Jose, 75 miles (120 km) south of the capital, said Leticia Zenevich, a spokeswoman for the group.

The organization provides free abortion services for women pregnant up to 10 weeks, beyond the territorial waters of countries where abortion is illegal.

The abortion pill – also known as a medication abortion — combines two medicines, mifepristone and misoprostol, to end a pregnancy. It is more than 90 percent effective for women up to 10 weeks pregnant.

In a statement, the Guatemalan army said that it would not allow the nonprofit to carry out its activities, in adherence “to the Constitution regarding the preservation of human life and the laws in effect in our country.”

The trip was the first made by the organization since Morocco blocked a ship from entering one of its harbors in 2012, Zenevich said.

Marleny Arias, a 50-year-old Guatemalan, heckled the ship’s crew, yelling: “Why don’t you go to the Netherlands to kill children?”

Group organizers defended the legality of the ship’s operation, which picks up women on shore and brings them to international waters where local laws do not apply.

On board, women are given an abortion pill and remain under observation for a few hours before returning to land.

“Guatemala has been chosen because the laws are very restrictive on the subject of abortion,” said Quetzali Cerezo, director of Women in Equity in Guatemala, which helps the Dutch nonprofit.

In Guatemala, where Catholic and Evangelical churches hold powerful influence, abortions are only permitted if a mother’s life is at risk.

According to the organization, which was founded in 1999, some 65,000 illegal abortions are performed annually in the Latin American country.

(Reporting by Sofia Menchu; Writing by Natalie Schachar; Editing by Bill Rigby)


Pope Francis addresses Vatican conference on human right to water

Pope Francis spoke to participants in a Vatican conference on the human right to water, organised by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences - RV

Pope Francis said the questions concerning the right to water are not marginal, but basic and pressing.  Basic, because where there is water there is life, and pressing, because our common home needs to be protected.

Yet we must also realise, he said, that not all water is life-giving, but only water that is safe and of good quality. The right to safe drinking water, he insisted, is a basic human right which cries out for practical solutions and needs to be given the central place it deserves in the framework of public policy. 

Our right to water, the Pope continued, gives rise to an inseparable duty. Every state, he said, is called to implement, also through juridical instruments, the Resolutions approved by the United Nations General Assembly since 2010 concerning the human right to a secure supply of drinking water. Similarly, non-state actors are required to assume their own responsibilities with respect to this right which is so decisive for the future of humanity.  

Noting that every day a thousand children die from water-related illnesses and millions of people consume polluted water, the Pope said we must give high priority to educating future generations about the gravity of the situation. 

We cannot be indifferent to these facts, he said, but rather we must work to develop a culture of care and encounter, in order to make our common home a more liveable and fraternal place, where none are excluded, but all are able to live and grow in dignity.

Please find below the official English translation of the Pope’s address:

Address of His Holiness Pope Francis to Conference on the Human Right to Water

Pontifical Academy of Sciences

23 February 2017

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Good afternoon!  I greet all of you and I thank you for taking part in this meeting concerned with the human right to water and the need for suitable public policies in this regard.  It is significant that you have gathered to pool your knowledge and resources in order to respond to this urgent need of today’s men and women.

The Book of Genesis tells us that water was there in the beginning (cf. Gen 1:2); in the words of Saint Francis of Assisi, it is “useful, chaste and humble” (cf. Canticle of the Creatures).  The questions that you are discussing are not marginal, but basic and pressing.  Basic, because where there is water there is life, making it possible for societies to arise and advance.  Pressing, because our common home needs to be protected.  Yet it must also be realized that not all water is life-giving, but only water that is safe and of good quality.

All people have a right to safe drinking water.  This is a basic human right and a central issue in today’s world (cf. Laudato Si’, 30; Caritas in Veritate, 27).  This is a problem that affects everyone and is a source of great suffering in our common home.  It also cries out for practical solutions capable of surmounting the selfish concerns that prevent everyone from exercising this fundamental right.  Water needs to be given the central place it deserves in the framework of public policy.  Our right to water is also a duty to water.  Our right to water gives rise to an inseparable duty.  We are obliged to proclaim this essential human right and to defend it – as we have done – but we also need to work concretely to bring about political and juridical commitments in this regard.  Every state is called to implement, also through juridical instruments, the Resolutions approved by the United Nations General Assembly since 2010 concerning the human right to a secure supply of drinking water.  Similarly, non-state actors are required to assume their own responsibilities with respect to this right.

The right to water is essential for the survival of persons (cf. Laudato Si’, 30) and decisive for the future of humanity.  High priority needs to be given to educating future generations about the gravity of the situation.  Forming consciences is a demanding task, one requiring conviction and dedication.

The statistics provided by the United Nations are troubling, nor can they leave us indifferent.  Each day a thousand children die from water-related illnesses and millions of persons consume polluted water.  These facts are serious; we have to halt and reverse this situation.  It is not too late, but it is urgent to realize the need and essential value of water for the good of mankind.

Respect for water is a condition for the exercise of the other human rights (cf. ibid., 30).  If we consider this right fundamental, we will be laying the foundations for the protection of other rights.  But if we neglect this basic right, how will we be able to protect and defend other rights?  Our commitment to give water its proper place calls for developing a culture of care (cf. ibid., 231) and encounter, joining in common cause all the necessary efforts made by scientists and business people, government leaders and politicians.  We need to unite our voices in a single cause; then it will no longer be a case of hearing individual or isolated voices, but rather the plea of our brothers and sisters echoed in our own, and the cry of the earth for respect and responsible sharing in a treasure belonging to all.  In this culture of encounter, it is essential that each state act as a guarantor of universal access to safe and clean water. 

God the Creator does not abandon us in our efforts to provide access to clean drinking water to each and to all.  It is my hope that this Conference will help strengthen your convictions and that you will leave in the certainty that your work is necessary and of paramount importance so that others can live.  With the “little” we have, we will be helping to make our common home a more liveable and fraternal place, where none are rejected or excluded, but all enjoy the goods needed to live and to grow in dignity. 

Thank you.


“…the noon[day] of the Papacy was the midnight of the world.”

“…the noon[day] of the Papacy was the midnight of the world.”
(James A. Wylie, “The History of Protestantism,” vol. 1, p. 16, 1878).
“That the Church of Rome has shed more innocent blood than any other institution that has ever existed among mankind, will be questioned by no Protestant who has a competent knowledge of history. The memorials, indeed, of many of her persecutions are now so scanty that it is impossible to form a complete conception of the multitude of her victims, and it is quite certain that no powers of imagination can adequately realize their sufferings.” (W. E. H. Lecky, in “History of the Rise and Influence of the Spirits of Rationalism in Europe,” vol. 2, p. 32, 1910 ed.)   “Under these bloody maxims [previously mentioned], those persecutions were carried on, from the eleventh and twelfth centuries almost to the present day, which stand out on the page of history. After the signal of open martyrdom had been given in the canons of Orleans, there followed the extirpation of the Albigenses under the form of a crusade, the establishment of the Inquisition, the cruel attempts to extinguish the Waldenses, the martyrdoms of the Lollards, the cruel wars to exterminate the Bohemians, the burning of Huss and Jerome, and multitudes of other confessors, before the Reformation; and afterwards, the ferocious cruelties practised in the Netherlands, the martyrdoms of Queen Mary’s reign, the extinction by fire and sword of the Reformation in Spain and Italy, by fraud and open persecution in Poland, the massacre of Bartholomew, the persecution of the Huguenots by the League, the extirpation of the Vaudois, and all the cruelties and prejudices connected with the revocation of the Edict of Nantes. These are the more open and conspicuous facts which explain the prophecy, besides the slow and secret murders of the holy tribunal of the Inquisition.” (“The First Two Visions of Daniel,” Rev. T. R. Birks, M. A., London, 1845, pages 248, 249.)   The number of the victims of the Inquisition in Spain, is given in “The History of the Inquisition in Spain,” by Llorente, formerly secretary of the Inquisition, pages 206-208. This authority acknowledges that more than 300,000 suffered persecution in Spain alone, of whom 31,912 died in the flames. Millions more were slain for their faith throughout Europe.  The Western Watchman, (a Roman Catholic publication) of St. Louis, Dec. 24, 1908 boldly argues that “The church has persecuted. Only a tyro in church history will deny that. . . . One hundred and fifty years after Constantine the Donatists were persecuted, and sometimes put to death. . . . Protestants were persecuted in France and Spain with the full approval of the church authorities. We have always defended the persecution of the Huguenots, and the Spanish Inquisition. Wherever and whenever there is honest Catholicity, there will be a clear distinction drawn between truth and error, and Catholicity and all forms of error. When she thinks it good to use physical force, she will use it” (see “Bible Readings for the Home Circle,” pp.220-221, sec. 4 “Notes,” 1942-48 eds.)    “It is important that we should clearly grasp one great historical fact; i.e. the rule of Rome has never, since it first commenced, ceased to exist, save once, for a very brief period during the Gothic invasions [see Daniel 7:8, the Gothic invasions reduced the western Roman empire (the 4th beast of Dan.7) into 10 kingdoms (ten horns) by 476 A.D., until Papal Rome (the little horn) via the eastern armies of Justinian and the “Justinian Decree” of 533 A.D. (which elevated the Bishop of Rome to “head of all the churches” and “the corrector of heretics”) regained its supremacy, subduing 7 and uprooting 3 (the Heruli, Vandals and Ostrogoths) by 538 A.D., beginning 1260 years of Papal supremacy (see Dan. 7:25; 12:7; Rev. 11:2; 11:3; 12:6; 12:14; 13:5) which ended in 1798 when Napoleon’s General Berthier entered Rome and took the pope captive, abolished the Papal government and establishing a secular one]. It has changed in character, as we have seen, but it has continued. Rome ruled the known world at the first advent of Christ, and still rules hundreds of millions of mankind, and will continue so to do right up till the second advent of Christ. So this prophecy [Daniel 7] teaches; for not until the Son of man takes the dominion of the earth, and establishes a kingdom that shall never pass away, is the monster representing Roman rule destroyed.  The rule of Rome, we repeat, has never ceased. It was a secular pagan power for five or six centuries; it has been an ecclesiastical and apostate Christian power ever since, that is to say, for twelve or thirteen centuries. There lay a brief period between these two main stages, during which professing Christian emperors ruled from Rome, followed by an interval when, for a time, it seemed as if the great city had received a fatal blow from her Gothic captors. It seemed so; but it was not so, for the word of God cannot be broken. The rule of Rome revived in a new form, and was as real under the popes of the thirteenth century as it had been under the Caesars of the first. It was as oppressive, cruel, and bloody under Innocent III. as it had been under Nero and Domitian. The reality was the same, though the forms had changed. The Caesars did not persecute the witnesses of Jesus more severely and bitterly than did the popes; Diocletian did not destroy the saints or oppose the gospel more than did the Inquisition of Papal days. Rome is one and the same all through, both locally and morally. One dreadful wild beast represents her, though the symbol, like the history it prefigures, has two parts. There was the undivided stage, and there has been the tenfold stage. The one is Rome pagan, the other Rome Papal; the one is the old empire, the other the modern pontificate; the one is the empire of the Caesars, the other is the Roman Papacy.” (H. Grattan Guinness, “Romanism and the Reformation,” pp. 39-40, 1887.)    “The desire for Worldly Power began to manifest itself on a broad scale in the Church in the 4th century, when the Roman Empire ceased its persecution, and made Christianity the State Religion. Then the Spirit of Imperial Rome passed into the Church. The Church ceased to be a Witness-Bearing institution to Christ, and became a vast Authoritative institution, usurping to itself authority to Rule the World. When the Roman Empire fell, the Church healed its death-stroke. Rome came to life again, thru the aid of the Church; and for a thousand years Ruled the World in the name of Christ, but in the spirit and manner of earthly kings. The Popes of Rome were the heirs and successors of the Caesars of Rome. The Vatican is where the palace of the Caesars was. The Popes have lived in all the pomp and splendor of the Caesars, and have claimed all the authority the Caesars claimed, and more. The Papal palace throughout the centuries has been among the most luxurious in alt the world. The Pope’s income annually runs into millions. The “abominations” and appalling immoralities of the Popes of the Middle Ages are well known. The horrors of the Inquisition, ordered by the Popes, were far more extensive and brutal than the persecutions by the Caesars had been, and constitute the most revolting picture in all history. “Scarlet” is the color of the Papacy. The Papal throne Is scarlet. It is borne by 12 men clad in scarlet. The cardinals’ hats and robes are scarlet. In no place on earth is there displayed more pomp and show and earthly splendor than at the coronation of a Pope. For the Church, judged by New Testament standards, this is Adultery with the World. There is scarcely a detail of the picture in chapter 17 but what may apply directly to the Papacy.” (Halley’s Pocket Bible Handbook, pg.643, 1948.)  “The healing of the death-stroke [Rev. 13:3] refers to the rise of Papal Rome out of the ruins of Pagan Rome, and its domination of the world on a vaster extent, and for a longer time, and with a more despotic hand, than any of its predecessors. The blasphemies refer to the claims of the Popes to infallibility, authority to forgive sins, grant indulgences, etc. The war on the saints is taken to refer to the Papal persecutions of the Middle Ages and early Reformation Era, in which, some historians have estimated, over 50,000,000 martyrs perished at the hands of Papal Rome, and which constituted one of the cruelest and most brutal chapters in the history of mankind. The 42 months, 1260 days, is taken to mean 1260 years, the approximate duration of the Papacy as a World-Power, 6th to 18th centuries.” (Halley’s Pocket Bible Handbook, pg.636, 1948.)

Pope Francis has announced that Christmas this year will be a “charade” –

Posted by truther on November 27, 2015,

In a solemn sermon at the Vatican, Pope Francis has announced that Christmas this year will be a “charade” due to the fact that the globe is currently engaging in World War 3. 

Via| Speaking at Mass at the Casa Santa Maria, the Pope said: We are close to Christmas. There will be lights, there will be parties, bright trees, even Nativity scenes – all decked out – while the world continues to wage war.

It’s all a charade. The world has not understood the way of peace. The whole world is at war, he said grimly.

“A war can be justified, so to speak, with many, many reasons, but when all the world as it is today, at war, piecemeal though that war may be – a little here, a little there – there is no justification.”

The sermon cast a serious note on the beginning of the festive season at the Vatican where a giant Christmas tree was unveiled – set to be decorated by December 8 – the start of the the Vatican’s Holy Year.

Pope Francis also spoke of the “innocent victims” of war and also condemned arms dealers for their role in world conflicts.

“What shall remain in the wake of this war, in the midst of which we are living now?” he asked. What shall remain? Ruins, thousands of children without education, so many innocent victims, and lots of money in the pockets of arms dealers.

“We should ask for the grace to weep for this world, which does not recognize the path to peace,” he said. To weep for those who live for war and have the cynicism to deny it,” he added. “God weeps, Jesus weeps”.


reuters Exclusive: In clash with pope’s climate call, U.S. Church leases drilling rights

Casting the fight against climate change as an urgent moral duty, Pope Francis in June urged the world to phase out highly-polluting fossil fuels.

Yet in the heart of U.S. oil country several dioceses and other Catholic institutions are leasing out drilling rights to oil and gas companies to bolster their finances, Reuters has found.

And in one archdiocese — Oklahoma City — Church officials have signed three new oil and gas leases since Francis’s missive on the environment, leasing documents show.

On Francis’ first visit to the United States this week, the business dealings suggest that some leaders of the U.S. Catholic Church are practicing a different approach to the environment than the pontiff is preaching.

Catholic institutions are not forbidden from dealing with or investing in the energy industry. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) guidelines on ethical investing warn Catholics and Catholic institutions against investing in companies related to abortion, contraception, pornography, tobacco, and war, but do not suggest avoiding energy stocks, and do not address the ownership of energy production interests.

A Reuters review of county documents found 235 oil and gas leasing deals signed by Catholic Church authorities in Texas and Oklahoma with energy and land firms since 2010, covering 56 counties across the two states. None of the Texas leases in the review were signed after the pope’s encyclical.

Those two states have been at the forefront of a boom in U.S. energy production in recent years, often through the controversial hydraulic fracturing production method, known as fracking.

It was not clear whether production on the Church leases was through fracking – a process that involves injecting sand, water and chemicals underground to crack open rock formations — or more conventional drilling methods.

The Church authorities receive a royalty ranging from 15 to 25 percent of the value of what is taken out of the ground, according to the leases, which are public documents filed with county clerk offices. Reuters’ search method did not capture leases signed before 2010 but which may still be in force.

(Click here for a graphic:

“There may be some kind of inconsistency here between what the pope has said and what the Church is doing in U.S. oil and gas country,” said Mickey Thompson, a consultant and former director of the Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association.

He added that since the Church often acquires its mineral rights through donations from parishioners, there could be “legal or fiduciary reasons” it has sought to lease them out. It was unclear if that was the case with the leases signed by Church institutions in Texas and Oklahoma, including the three leases signed in Oklahoma since June.

A USCCB official and a spokeswoman for the Oklahoma City archdiocese both declined to comment.

The Vatican does not have direct power over investment decisions taken by dioceses in the United States, a responsibility reserved for their bishops.

Members of the U.S. Catholic hierarchy have fallen out of line with papal administrations before. Last year, for example, U.S. Cardinal Raymond Burke was moved out of a senior post in the Vatican after clashing with Francis’ more liberal views on homosexuality and Catholic re-marriage.


A Reuters examination of financial disclosures by U.S. Catholic institutions in August found that they have millions of dollars invested in energy companies, from hydraulic fracturing to oil sands producers. One U.S. archdiocese, Chicago, told Reuters it planned to review its energy shareholdings in light of the pope’s June message.

But the Church’s direct links to the fossil fuels industry through the Oklahoma and Texas lease deals highlight a potentially deeper moral dissonance in the wake of the pope’s unambiguous attack on human-caused climate change.

Francis makes his first visit to the United States from Tuesday through Sept. 27 with stops in Washington, New York and Philadelphia.

In Texas, dioceses that granted oil leases in recent years included Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin, and San Antonio.

Pat Svacina, a spokesman for the Diocese of Forth Worth, said the diocese received $31,661 from its leases in fiscal year 2015. He declined to say whether the diocese was considering reviewing its oil and gas leasing program in light of the pope’s encyclical.

“The way the leases are written it is very difficult to cancel a lease that is in production,” Svacina said. “The Diocese always reviews the viability and desirability of renewing a lease at the conclusion of a current lease,” he added, without elaborating.

In Oklahoma, about one quarter of the roughly 165 Church lease deals signed since 2010 were granted by the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City, with most of the rest granted by the Catholic Foundation of Oklahoma and the St. Gregory’s Catholic University of Oklahoma.


Oklahoma City Archbishop Paul S. Coakley signed the most recent deal on Sept. 3, giving privately held oil company Comanche Resources rights to operate on 160 acres in Major County in exchange for 18.75 percent of the value of the oil and gas produced.

The two-year extendable lease also permits Comanche to lay pipes, build storage tanks, power stations, and other installations. (Click here to see the lease: (

Coakley signed similar deals with energy companies Continental Resources and Lance Ruffell Oil in July and August, with royalties of 25 and 20 percent respectively.

A spokeswoman for the archdiocese declined to comment, and efforts to reach Coakley were not successful. The spokeswoman also declined comment on behalf of the Catholic Foundation, where Coakley serves as chairman.

An official at St. Gregory’s said the university had been given significant mineral rights by donors, adding that the royalties collected had averaged about $405,000 over the past three years, or 3.7 percent of revenue. The official asked not to be identified.

While the Church provides little data on its finances, information from other Catholic institutions in Oklahoma and Texas showed oil and gas royalties yielded a small portion of overall revenue in recent years, partly reflecting a slide in energy prices.

A review of audited statements issued by the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City between 2010 and 2013 showed that the oil and gas royalties made up 2 percent of total revenue, or $1.6 million, over that period. That share peaked in 2012 at 5 percent, or $704,399, according to the audited statements. The other Oklahoma institutions did not provide data.

A spokesman for the Archdiocese of San Antonio, Jordan McMurrough, said the archdiocese had been collecting small energy royalties on its mineral rights since the 1950s, but that they currently make up less than 1 percent of revenue.

“The archdiocese currently does not plan changes to its long-standing practice of granting oil and gas leases,” he said, adding that Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller “is well aware of and deeply respects” Pope Francis’ encyclical.

He said one-third of the archdiocese’s mineral rights were donated, with the rest “by acquisition for church purposes over the years.”

Officials at the other dioceses in Texas did not respond to requests for comment.

Other companies that have signed energy leasing deals with the Church in recent years include Apache Corp, Cabot, Chesapeake, Devon Energy, and Range Resources.

All have been active in a fracking boom over the past several years.

A spokeswoman for Apache Corp confirmed the company has “a very limited” number of leases with the Church, but declined to comment further. The other firms did not respond to requests for comment.

Fracking has led to a surge in U.S. production by making new reserves available to the industry, and contributed to the slump in world energy prices. But the drilling boom has raised worries about pollution, climate change, and potentially damaging earthquakes from wastewater injection — fears that the oil industry says are overblown.

The American Petroleum Institute has said technological advances and efficient regulation have allowed drillers to raise production without contaminating water supplies or increasing emissions of methane, a greenhouse gas.