Mike Potemra at National Review’s The Corner just slammed Fr. Gabriel Amorth pretty outrageously and irresponsibly, I think. As CMR readers know Fr. Gabriel Amorth in an interview with CNA recently said that there were Satanists in the Vatican. You can believe it or not, but Potemra obviously believes that to be a mockable statement and writes:

Satanists in the Vatican?

It’s the sort of headline that belongs in a kook tabloid, or on a book review of a Malachi Martin fantasy. But the allegation is made by (hitherto) respected exorcist Gabriele Amorth, who says in a new book that “Yes, also in the Vatican there are members of Satanic sects.” According to the Catholic News Agency report, when asked whether clergy as well as laymen are involved, he responded, “There are priests, monsignors and also cardinals!” Now, this Amorth is not exactly a fringe figure: His books are published in the U.S. by one of the most respectable mainstream religious publishing houses — Ignatius Press, which is also the U.S. publisher of the works of Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI.

Just a couple of days ago, I was talking to a devout and educated Catholic layman, who was telling me about the spiritual dangers of excessive interest in demonology. The demonic/Satanic exists, but a focus on it can warp the spirituality of a believer, and should be indulged in only with great caution. The high probability is that Father Amorth has been taken off the emotional rails by the work he does, in which case I wish him a speedy recovery.

I wonder if the (hitherto) respected Potemra doesn’t believe in Satanism or just doesn’t believe anybody practices it.

Either way, it seems to me that you can believe that Fr. Amorth may be right or wrong but to state that Fr. Amorth is “off the emotional rails” seems pretty outlandish and irresponsible. It smacks of those television psychiatrists and psychologists who diagnose celebrities without any actual knowledge of the person. Diagnosing someone’s emotional state or their spiritual health is always a bit dangerous and highly inaccurate.

Believe me, I feel a bit strange defending anyone who states that Cardinals are practicing Satanism. But Fr. Amorth has earned some credibility over the years and even though I may or may not believe what he says in this particular instance I would caution anyone not to say that Fr. Amorth’s spirituality is “warped” or “off the rails.”

And I expect better from the typically excellent National Review.