INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – A Catholic priest who performs thousands of exorcisms annually across central Indiana says the isolation brought on by the coronavirus pandemic only made it worse.
But it’s the extra time the pandemic has made available that has given him the time to write a book about his experience.
Rev. Vince Lampert grew up on the west side of Indianapolis in the Haughville neighborhood. He was the seventh of nine children.
When he was originally appointed to the Department of Exorcism, he was one of twelve in the United States. Now there are more than 125.
After 15 years he has seen it all.
“I’ve seen levitation, my eyes rolled up on the back of my head, my mouth foamed, people fell to the floor and slipped across the floor like a snake,” said Lampert. “Speaking languages that are otherwise unknown to an individual and show superhuman strength.”
While they’re actions taken straight out of a Hollywood script, Lampert said it was a fight priests have waged for millennia. No matter how terrifying it may seem to some, he said there is nothing that scares him. “No, not when it comes to demons. I am not losing sleep. “
Lampert is the appointed exorcist of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Indianapolis. He is also the pastor of two wards in Franklin County, including St. Peter Church and St. Michael Church in Brookville.
He has been ordained a priest for 30 years, including 15 years when he was also named exorcist to the archbishop since the previous person’s death.
The priest has a sense of humor.
“I always say I was in the wrong place at the wrong time,” said Lampert. “I looked around to make sure there was no one behind me that he was actually talking to.”
He went to Rome, where he taught with a Franciscan priest for three months and experienced 40 exorcisms.
He said it was an eye-opening experience that taught him not to focus on the forces he was fighting but on the power at his disposal.
“I am not. I don’t have any special powers or abilities. If we rely on me we’ll all be in trouble. But when we rely on the power and authority of Jesus Christ given to his church, that’s the right feeling. “
The Catholic Church recognizes four types of extraordinary demonic activity: mental attacks, called obsessions; physical attacks called anger; demonic possessions like in the movie “The Exorcist”; and infestation of places or objects such as haunted.
“I do thousands of these a year,” said Lampert. “But true cases of demonic possession, maybe one a year.”
He said the infestation is not the result of a spirit living in this place because it believes that demons do not occupy time and space like humans. But it is the result of their decision to act there.
While there are many programs on cable television that deal with the subject and people who hunt ghosts, Lampert has no interest in it.
“I don’t watch any of these programs on TV anymore. I think I can really see it. So there is no point in looking at it. Many of these programs are true. “
Lampert received five or six calls a day from all over the world. Now it’s from 10-12 a day. He estimates that it takes up about half of his time as a priest.
“That tells me that when people are isolated and dealing with mental health problems, the number of calls has really increased.”
Lampert said while the number of appointed exorcists in America has increased in recent years, other cultures and backgrounds that are more willing to accept demonic activity actually have much larger numbers.
He’s trained to always be the skeptic.
His first step when someone asks for help is to put them in touch with their local priest or pastor, who can provide more ongoing long-term care, even if it is a different faith tradition. The process often requires a psychiatric evaluation, as well as a doctor’s evaluation, to eliminate any other possible causes, such as mental or physical illness, before landing on the supernatural.
“I should be the last one to believe someone has anything to do with the demonic,” said Lampert.
He will even use some secret tests to make sure someone is not pretending or perhaps being misleading. For example, pull out a vial of tap water instead of holy water and see how the individual reacts. He will also bring sacred items and read the scriptures to see how someone might react and if they have increased awareness of what is happening.
He said sometimes it is easier for someone to believe that something else is doing this to them than to accept that they have schizophrenia or some other mental illness.
Part of his job is also to determine why there is demonic activity in that place or within a person. He often said that the root is occultism, but in some cases there is “the devil’s foothold” to an unhealthy brokenness like anger.
The average person, said the priest, need not worry about demonic possessions.
“Evil is nothing to fear. If someone really has faith, there is nothing to fear, ”said Lampert. “If you are a person of faith and you are living out your relationship with God when you pray, the devil is already on the run. We don’t have to do anything extraordinary to fight the devil. “
Many exorcists choose to keep their identities a secret. Doesn’t light up.
In fact, the pandemic gave him the time it took to write a book about his experience called “Exorcism: The Fight Against Satan And His Demons,” which is currently for sale online by some vendors such as Amazon. He wants to share his ministry to educate people.
“For skeptics, I can only suggest that I consider myself the ambassador of the church, so that I present what the church believes and teaches, and then it is ultimately up to the people to decide what to do with it,” said Lampert.
The priest said there are two different types of forbidden prayers for exorcisms: a supplication to God for help and an order to a demon to go. He said that they always have an immediate effect. But in exorcisms where the healing is not complete, he always finds that the person is always holding onto something or withholding the full truth. You must also want to be healed.
Lampert is also part of the International Association of Exorcists, a Roman Catholic group that was founded about 30 years ago. He said there are about 700 members around the world. For people living outside of central Indiana, it is often useful to network with people and seek help from an exorcist who is geographically closer to them. However, he has traveled around the globe on various occasions.
In order for he to travel to serve a Catholic outside the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, permission is required from the bishop of that diocese, who by his title is the appointed Catholic exorcist, unless he appoints someone like Lampert to take over that role for him .