The Extraordinary Exorcism of Mexico

06/16/2015 10:34 am ET | Updated Jun 16, 2016

Christian exorcism has become so popular worldwide that now it's not only performed on tormented individuals but also on entire nations. A few weeks ago Mexico, the second largest Catholic country, was exorcised of its demons in an unprecedented rite of Exorcismo Magno performed in secret in the city of San Luis Potosi. On May 20, the renowned Spanish exorcist José Antonio Fortea, author of the book "El Exorcismo Magno," joined Cardinal Juan Sandoval Íñiguez, Archbishop Emeritus of Guadalajara, and a cadre of trained exorcists to perform the maximum type of Catholic exorcism, reserved for nations and dioceses, on the Mexican Republic itself. In an interview with the Catholic press, the famed exorcist, Father Fortea, explained that the Exorcismo Magno is "useful in situations in which great violence has been unleashed in a country."

Mexico, of course, has been plagued by hyper-violence since 2006 when former president, Felipe Calderon launched an unprecedented assault on some of the major drug cartels. Since then an estimated 100,000 Mexicans have died in the ongoing battles over access to the largest drug market on earth here in the U.S. The first Latin American pope, Francis, has paid special attention to the conflict in Mexico. The chief reason for the recent promotion of the archbishop of Morelia to cardinal was his condemnations of the narco-violence plaguing his home state of Michoacan. The South American pontiff even got himself in a bit of hot water with his recent warning to his native Argentina to avoid "Mexicanization"of the country. And if Mexican folk saint, Santa Muerte, has been condemned by the Vatican and is denounced on a weekly basis in Mexico, it's because the Church views the skeleton saint as the poster child of the narco-culture of death.

However, the cadre of exorcists working behind closed doors were not only expelling the demons of narco-violence but also of abortion. Though it doesn't receive extensive international media coverage, the Church in Mexico has felt besieged since abortion was legalized in Mexico City in 2007. Legal and free abortion during the first twelve weeks of pregnancy ranks among the most liberal policies in Latin America, along with those of Uruguay and Cuba. In Mexico legislation on abortion is determined at the state-level, so there is considerable variation among the thirty-one states. One of the reasons the state of San Luis Potosi was chosen as the site of the unprecedented exorcism was because of its status as an early opponent of legal abortion. The Mexican church roundly regards the national capital city as a den of iniquity because of its estimated 100,000 legal abortions since 2007 and its status as one of Latin America's most liberal cities. This was one of the reasons that Pope Benedict XVI bypassed Latin America's largest city and headed instead to Leon, the industrial city in Guanajuato, Mexico's most Catholic state and also one of its most culturally conservative.

The exorcism of the demons of abortion was also done on cue from Pope Francis. The Latin America pope surprised many with his impromptu public exorcism of a Mexican parishioner who claimed to be possessed by four different demons of abortion. Catholic journalist Roberto O'Farrill reported the demons possessing the Mexican parishioner as saying "you are all stupid because she (the Virgin Mary) ran us out of Mexico and now you with your stupid laws have allowed sacrifice, human sacrifice, to return to Mexico. We don't want to say this, but she steps on our heads and forces us." O'Farrill, who was the sole journalist permitted to witness the Exorcismo Magno in San Luis Potosi, added that during the recent rite the demons said they had returned to Mexico with a new infestation centered in Mexico City.

Exorcism, especially among Catholics and Pentecostals, has been surging worldwide for the past couple decades, but there's no doubt that Pope Francis, between performing a spontaneous one at the Vatican and making frequent references to the devil and demons, has given it a further boost. The exorcism of Mexico marks a fascinating new development in which entire nations are viewed as demon possessed. Where might Father Fortea perform his next Exorcismo Magno?