Video footage shown on Italian TV from St. Peter’s Square on Pentecost Sunday shows Pope Francis performing some type of ritual on a visitor in a wheelchair which has some believing the pontiff was performing an exorcism. The Vatican denies this, saying that the pope was performing a healing prayer on the young man.
The footage shows Pope Francis shaking the hand of the visitor, then after a priest mentions something in his ear, the pope placed both hands on the young man’s head in prayer. The visitor reacted visibly to this, which has caused a number of media outlets to declare the action an exorcism.
In a statement made on Vatican Radio, director of the press office of the Holy See Fr. Federico Lombardi clarified the pope’s actions. “Pope Francis’ decision to place his hands on the head of a sick child and pray over him on Pentecost Sunday stirred speculation he might have performed an exorcism. The Holy Father did not intend to perform any exorcism. Rather, as he frequently does with the sick and the suffering who come his way, he intended simply pray for a suffering person who had been brought before him.”