While Father Amorth's description of satanic possession seems quite graphic, from at least one personal experience I can affirm that a good portion of it is fairly accurate. I previously wrote about Satan's power and influence in a related post.
Without delving into the controversial sex abuse scandals or trying to figure out how Father Amorth has time to sleep or eat with his busy exorcist schedule, I'd like to discuss priesthood authority and its connection to rejecting satanic presence. Particularly, is Christ's true priesthood required to command Satan and his subjects? Can the faith of an individual (or the combined faith of those present) be used in an exorcism instead of invoking or wielding the true priesthood authority?
The apostle John once remarked to the Savior that "[the apostles] saw one casting out devils in thy name; and we forbad him, because he followeth not with us. And Jesus said unto him, Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us" (Luke 9:49-50)(emphasis added).
Does this mean that those without Christ's true priesthood authority are able to command and cast out devils as much as one with authority? Commenting on the phrase "he followeth not us," Elder Bruce R. McConkie wrote:
"He was not one of the Twelve to whom the express power had been given to cast out devils (Matthew 10:8); he was not one of the inner circle of disciples who traveled, ate, slept, and communed with the Master. Luke has it: 'He followeth not with us'; that is, he is not one of our traveling companions. But from our Lord's reply it is evident that he was a member of the kingdom, a legal administrator who was acting in the authority of the priesthood and the power of faith. Either he was unknown to John who therefore erroneously supposed him to be without authority or else John falsely supposed that the power to cast out devils was limited to the Twelve and did not extend to all faithful priesthood holders. It is quite possible that the one casting out devils was a seventy.
"Only righteous men who are members of the Church, who hold the priesthood, and who are keeping the commandments, have power to perform miracles.... Our Lord had many faithful followers who had power by faith to cast out devils" (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 1:417)(emphasis added).
To be clear, I do not believe the Catholic Church wields the true priesthood of God. Consistent with LDS theology, I believe Christ's true priesthood was lost to the world at large during the great apostasy. However, I also do not believe that Catholic exorcists, such as Father Amorth are followers of Satan. (See Matt. 12:25-26) Notwithstanding, is it possible that exorcisms can still be effectuated by individuals lacking the priesthood through an exercise and display of faith?
The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that "faith is not only the principle of action, but of power also, in all intelligent beings, whether in heaven or on earth" (Lectures on Faith, 1:13)(emphasis added). Indeed, it was faith that was invoked to frame the worlds (Heb 11:3), and it is through faith that all created things exist. "[Faith] is the principle by which Jehovah works, and through which he exercises power over all temporal as well as eternal things.... And if the principle of power, it must be so in man as well as in Diety" (Id. at 1:16, 18)(emphasis added).
When the Twelve were unable to cast a devil out of a "lunatick," they queried the Savior on how He was able to finish what they could not. Christ then proceeded to teach them doctrines of faith, not of priesthoods. "Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting" (Matt. 17:20-21)(emphasis added). Thus, since prayer and fasting doesn't have any effect on whether one possesses the priesthood but instead affects one's level of faith, it appears that exorcism relies more on the principle of faith than on one's authority.
Admittedly, I have not taken part in or seen a Catholic exorcism (apart from what Hollywood concocts). I have, however, taken part in a handful of LDS exorcisms and can attest that one's faith plays an enormous role. Still, I am not certain of the extent that God's priesthood plays in such instances. Is the pristhood required simply to keep order? Yet, if an individual lacks the priesthood but has sufficient faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, can that individual command evil in His name? And, if that is the case, does Father Amorth truly exorcise evil spirits during his claimed frequent encounters?