Not long following a controversial announcement by Pope Francis that the devil was "punishing Mexico with criminal violence" to undermine the Christian faith of the Mexican people, an exorcism was quietly carried out in the cathedral of the city of San Luis Potosi on May 20. Using a rarely-used form of exorcism known as "Exorcismo Magno", a team of exorcists, including a cardinal, an archbishop, and priests and lay people from across the country conducted the exorcism to drive demons out of Mexico. The rationale for the ritual stems from the spiraling episodes of violence in Mexico, including the recent killing of 43 students by corrupt police and drug cartels.
Presided over by Cardinal Juan Sandoval Íñiguez, the archbishop emeritus of Guadalajara, the closed-door ritual also included the Archbishop of San Luis Potosi, Jesús Carlos Cabrero of San Luis Potosí as well as Spanish demonologist and exorcist Father José Antonio Fortea. No announcement was made of the ritual beforehand to prevent any "misguided interpretations of the ritual."
In explaining the need for the Exorcismo Magno, Father Fortea told the Catholic News Agency that “To the extent sin increases more and more in a country, to that extent it becomes easier for the demons to tempt (people).” He also warned that “to the extent there is more witchcraft and Satanism going on in a country, to that extent there will be more extraordinary manifestations of those powers of darkness. The exorcism performed in San Luís Potosí is the first ever carried out in Mexico in which the exorcists came from different parts of the country and gathered together to exorcise the powers of darkness, not from a person, but from the whole country. This rite of exorcism, beautiful and liturgical, had never before taken place in any part of the world. Although it had taken place in a private manner as when Saint Francis (exorcised) the Italian city of Arezzo.”
While he also warned that the people of Mexico should not expect immediate changes to nationwide levels of violence, "if with the power we’ve received from Christ we expel the demons from a country, this will certainly have positive repercussions, because we’ll make a great number of the tempters flee, even if this exorcism is partial. “We don’t drive out all the evil spirits from a country with just one ceremony. But even though all will not be expelled, those that were removed are not there anymore.
Though aware of the widespread skepticism news of this exorcism is likely to provoke, Father. Fortea emphasized that “when the exorcists of a country drive out its demons, it has to be done in faith. You’re not going to see anything, feel anything, there’s not going to be any extraordinary phenomenon. We have to have faith that God conferred on the apostles a power, and that we can use this power.”
While Archbishop Jesús Carlos Cabrero simply explained the ritual as a “blessing for the people”, Father Fortea hopes that it will become an annual event to ensure Mexico's stability. In the meantime, gang violence in Mexico continues unabated. Make of that what you will.