A senior priest in Florence is under investigation for fraud after allegedly amassing £3 million by performing fake exorcisms. Prosecutors said that Father Francesco Saverio Bazzoffi would “stage shows” at the House of the Sainted Archangels, an organisation he founded. During the events, which regularly attracted crowds of over 400 people, a number of associates would “pretend to be possessed by demons” and Fr Bazzoffi would allegedly exorcise them using ancient and obscure rites. He would then offer to “heal” members of the audience who were sick, and solicit donations to his organisation.
One witness told police: “During Mass, the priest spoke in Aramaic, and strange things happened. I do not know if it was group hysteria or our suggestibility, but I remember one old woman screaming in a man’s voice while five big guys held her down.” Prosecutors, who have also put 13 of his associates under investigation, started monitoring Fr Bazzoffi in 2005. His house was raided last month, and several documents were seized that showed the priest had £3 million in his bank account. He denied that he had ever “encouraged” sick people to believe he could heal them. “These accusations would make me laugh, if it was not such a serious thing.”
He added: “The House of the Sainted Archangels is not a registered business and does not have a bank account. So I opened one in my own name.
And the Catholic Church is puzzled why people are jumping ship…..