Fr Gabriele Amorth, an Italian Pauline priest renowned for his work in dispelling demons, has died aged 91.

Fr Amorth began his ministry as an exorcist for the Diocese of Rome in 1986 and performed – according to his own estimates – some 70,000 exorcisms or other prayers to liberate people from demonic influence.

He said frequently that, while it was rare for a person to be possessed by a demon, the Devil’s influence was strong in today’s world, affecting not just individuals but sometimes entire societies.

“For example, I am convinced that the Nazis were all possessed by the Devil,” he told Vatican Radio in 2006.

“If one thinks of what was committed by people like Stalin or Hitler, certainly they were possessed by the Devil. This is seen in their actions, in their behaviour and in the horrors they committed,” he said.

One reason the Devil’s influence was so high today, he said, is that Christian faith had weakened, replaced in many cases by superstition and an interest in the occult, which he said “open the way to demonic influences”.

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