'Factor' Investigation: Vatican Orders More Exorcists Into Field to Fight Evil

This is a rush transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," January 22, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: In the "Factor Follow-up" segment tonight: exorcism. Most people see it as fictional play; that perception backed up by the very successful 1973 movie. But the Catholic Church takes exorcism very seriously.

Last month Pope Benedict suggested that bishops all over the world expand exorcism personnel. That is, priests trained in the ancient rite. This according to a report by the London Daily Mail.

Now the order didn't get much publicity, but we found it interesting because nine years ago right here on the "Factor" I interviewed Father James LeBar, the chief exorcist for the New York Archdiocese.


O'REILLY: When you pray over the child and you do the exorcism, there's nothing like what happened in the movie where you can visually sense evil or anything like that?


O'REILLY: Give me one example.

LEBAR: I had a case of a rather large woman who took five people to hold her down on the floor and during the prayers — on the chair. And while we were praying the prayers, those five people, the woman and the — could not hold down the woman in the chair. The chair was about six inches off the ground.


O'REILLY: That priest is a sanctioned exorcist for the New York City Archdiocese.

Joining us now from Mountain View, California, Anthony Gonzales, a Catholic theologian. For those viewers who are not Catholic, explain the concept of active evil, evil in the world that the Catholic Church believes is true.

ANTHONY GONZALES, CATHOLIC THEOLOGIAN: Well, in other words, I would say this, Bill. You have good, and you have evil. And evil is the absence of good. But it is also an active reality. It is personified in what we call the fallen angels. And the fallen angels are very active on the earth.

O'REILLY: All right. So the Catholic Church believes that there are spirits?

GONZALES: Correct.

O'REILLY: Spirits that are present on the earth that are doing evil things, correct?

GONZALES: Correct. Correct.

O'REILLY: And that sometimes those spirits can actually take over a body and force a human being to do a destructive act?

GONZALES: Yes. If you — in fact, the way that it works, is that the demon actually takes possession of those faculties of the brain that act in the world.

O'REILLY: OK. Now...

GONZALES: Normal circumstances we do that. In other words, our soul...

O'REILLY: All right. So free will disappears. So a human being doesn't have the ability to choose whether the person is going to be good or evil?

GONZALES: No, no. A little bit different. It's not that the free will disappears. It's that it's pushed aside.

O'REILLY: All right. Whatever. I don't want to get involved. You're the theologian. I don't want to do the Ph.D. But the person, according to the church, isn't able to control what's going on in the person's brain.

GONZALES: Correct.

O'REILLY: You know a lot of people watching tonight think this is a bunch of superstitious mumbo jumbo. They're going to mock you. They're going to say that you're a primitive and all kinds of things.

What is it about this concept of active evil, about possession, why do you believe it? Can you base it on anything other than faith?

GONZALES: Oh, absolutely. I mean, there is...

O'REILLY: You, you, you, Anthony? Why do you believe it?

GONZALES: Because I've experienced it myself. But outside of my own experience...

O'REILLY: No. I want to know about your own experience. Why do you believe it?

GONZALES: OK. Where do you want me to start?

O'REILLY: Just give me your best shot, Anthony. You've got two minutes to convince people that you're not a nut. Go.

GONZALES: OK. I knew of a priest who was an exorcist in the archdiocese of San Francisco in the 1970s. This man was very well respected. He was a very good priest.

He went through the process of expelling demons, specifically demons that were infesting and were — it was situations of obsession, where the demon will actually attack the individuals in a particular vicinity and attack them physically.

He saw this. There were pictures taken of it, movies photographed of it. It was there, and he fought these demons. And I spoke to him many times. He was someone I knew and was acquainted with.

So this is just one. I mean, I could give you hundreds of examples of this. These things are not — I mean, they're scientifically based. You can show evidence that they happen and that they exist.

O'REILLY: OK. Now we have seen some evidence of people speaking languages they weren't born to speak and all of that. But I will tell you that the skepticism about this is through the roof and that the church keeps exorcism very quiet. You know the church does. And it doesn't want a lot of publicity about it. Correct?

GONZALES: Well, there's a — yes. There's a reason for that. The church is protecting those who are the victims of this. And it does not want these people to be known.

O'REILLY: Held up?

GONZALES: Correct.

O'REILLY: All right, but they could put the exorcists out more. You know, the interview that you saw with the New York guy is the only interview I think he's ever done in his life.

Anthony, thanks very much. We appreciate it.

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