Archbishop Charles Scicluna on Tuesday called for caution before labelling people experiencing mental health or psychological issues as being possessed by the devil.

Celebrating daily mass in the morning, the Archbishop read an extract from the Gospel of Mark in which Jesus performed an exorcism in the synagogue of Capernaum.

In his homily, which followed the reading, the Archbishop said:

“Many times, we tend to mix the idea of the devil or possession of evil spirits with psychological problems,” he said.

“We have to be very careful and attentive. If someone is suffering from psychological problems, we do not label them as being possessed. It is up to our (Church) experts and exorcists to determine possession or devil’s influence on a person,” he said.

(Homily starts at 9:50, his comments on psychological issues at 14:00)

The Archbishop's comments come shortly after the police had to stop interrogating their lead suspect in a brutal murder in Sliema at the beginning of the year after he claimed the devil was speaking to him. 

Lead suspect Abner Aquilina told the police that he was “doing God’s work” but the devil had entered his thoughts when the violent attacks occurred. He is currently being held at Mount Carmel Hospital, the state-run mental health facility.

Abner has been linked to the controversial River of Love evangelical community and was seen at a meeting the night before the murder, but its leader has distanced itself from the murder suspect. 

Scicluna did not make any reference to the case in his homily. He said that even though many cases stem from psychological problems, it does not mean the evil spirits or the devil do not exist.

 God gave the power of exorcism only to the Church and each bishop is given that strength and power of exorcism for their diocese. Theses delegate that power and strength to members of the clergy who are well studied, trained, loving, caring and wise,” he said

Sign up to our free newsletters

Get the best updates straight to your inbox:
Please select at least one mailing list.

You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the link in the footer of our emails. We use Mailchimp as our marketing platform. By subscribing, you acknowledge that your information will be transferred to Mailchimp for processing.