The Washington Post’s Craig Whitlock reports on the recent rise in popularity of Catholic exorcisms. This new trend, which is taking root in predominantly Catholic areas of Europe, has allowed for a large spike in Church-trained practitioners.
“About 70 priests serve as trained exorcists in Poland, about double the number of five years ago. An estimated 300 exorcists are active in Italy. Foremost among them: the Rev. Gabriele Amorth, 82, who performs exorcisms daily in Rome and is dean of Europe’s corps of demon-battling priests … Amorth and other priests said the resurgence in exorcisms has been encouraged by the Vatican, which in 1999 formally revised and upheld the rite for the first time in almost 400 years.”
This new openness towards training exorcists seems to go hand-in-hand with the Catholic Church’s recent traditionalist turn, including loosening regulations for the performance of the Tridentine Mass (aka the Latin Rite), and a more strident tone towards non-monotheistic faiths. Which perhaps explains Rev. Wieslaw Jankowski’s guidelines for which demographics most need the rite of exorcism.
“Typical cases, he said, include people who turn away from the church and embrace New Age therapies, alternative religions or the occult. Internet addicts and yoga devotees are also at risk, he said.”
In other words, Pagans need exorcisms! But don’t worry, we will be in good company, since women who want to get a divorce also seem to need some demons ejected.
“According to what I could perceive, the devil was present and acting in an obvious way,” he said. “How else can you explain how a wife, in the space of a couple of weeks, could come to hate her own husband, a man who is a good person?”
Yes, I couldn’t think of a single reason why a woman would suddenly want to get a divorce. There is no way physical or emotional abuse, finding out about an affair, or simply realizing that the love is gone, could factor into it. It must be demons. Sadly, this woman’s “demons” seem too strong for the exorcist, and subsequent exorcisms haven’t been successful in making the woman want to go back to her husband (imagine that).
Is this new trend towards exorcisms a way to engage people in the power of the Church? Reframing all urges towards non-Catholic thoughts and practices as a struggle against evil powers, instead of acknowledging that they may be merely disillusioned with what the traditional monotheisms have to offer? It could be that this new vogue for casting out demons is actually a policy of retention, after all, would you want to leave the Church when your the focal point for spiritual warfare?