The pope and the devil: Is Francis an exorcist?

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Posted: Tuesday, May 21, 2013 7:05 am | Updated: 9:05 pm, Tue May 28, 2013.

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Is Pope Francis an exorcist?

The question has been swirling ever since Francis laid his hands Sunday on the head of a young man after celebrating Mass in St. Peter's Square. The young man heaved deeply a half-dozen times, convulsed and shook, and then slumped in his wheelchair as Francis prayed over him.

The television station of the Italian bishops' conference said it had surveyed exorcists, who agreed that Francis either performed an exorcism or a prayer to free the man from the devil.

The Vatican was more cautious Tuesday, saying Francis "didn't intend to perform any exorcism. But as he often does for the sick or suffering, he simply intended to pray for someone."

Fueling the speculation is Francis' obsession with the devil, a frequent subject of his homilies.

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