Vatican investigates Catholic group after exorcism claim that Francis is devil’s man

(The Tablet) The leader of a Brazilian traditionalist movement that was praised in the past two pontificates has resigned, and a video has subsequently emerged of the leader relaying bizarre claims by one of his priests regarding Pope Francis.

Mgr João Scognamiglio Clá Dias, the founder and now ex-leader of the Heralds of the Gospel, can be seen in the video saying that the devil had told the Heralds priest that Francis was “my man”. Satan said Francis is “stupid” and does “everything I want”, Clá Dias says.

But speaking to The Tablet, Fr Angel Veiga, a Rome-based leader of the order, said the video has been “taken out of context”, and what was said in it does not equate to the position of the Heralds. They were simply relaying Satan’s message.

“It’s the Devil, no? The Devil is the father of lies,” Fr Veiga explained, adding that the video showed “a private, intimate conversation between our founder [Clá Dias] and various priests.”

The video, first reported by respected Vatican journalist Andrea Tornielli, shows around 60 priests listening to Mgr Clá Dias relaying what the priest said to him. The things had been said – the priest believed by the devil – when the priest was carrying out an exorcism.

The Heralds of the Gospel were founded in 1998 and received pontifical approval in 2001 under John Paul II, making them the first private association of faithful to receive Vatican approval in the third millennium — an achievement which the group is keen to underline.

They are made up of 200 priests, 2,820 consecrated members and are present in 78 countries. Under Benedict XVI, two other societies grew out of the Heralds.

Although not widely known outside Brazil and some circles in Rome, the Heralds’ religious dress — a Medieval-looking dark brown tunic with a long, Gothic looking cross in the middle — has given them visibility in the Church.

However, on 2 June, their leader Mgr. Clá Dias unexpectedly resigned and reports emerged of a Vatican investigation into the group. A Heralds spokesman in Brazil confirmed the probe saying that it was a routine apostolic investigation which “can occur at any moment for any religious institution.”

It was in the days following Mgr Clá Dias’ resignation that the video emerged. [More]


The Tablet