This morning I saw an article appear in my Facebook newsfeed talking about an Exorcism that is going to be performed live tonight by a Bishop of the Old Roman Catholic Church. The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. Louis is not involved with this exorcism and the Archbishop has warned against the whole event. To learn about what is planned and to watch the local news station coverage of the event, check out the articles on uCatholic and National Catholic Register.
In his book An Exorcist Tells His Story, written by Fr. Gabrielle Amorth,
“To increase the effectiveness of this Christ-given power to guard the faithful from magicians and charlatans, the Church instituted a specific sacramental, exorcism. It can administered exclusively by bishops and by those priests (therefore, never by lay persons) who have received specific license to exorcise. Canon Law (canon 1172), which governs exorcisms, reminds us that sacramentals, in contrast to private prayer (canon 1166), are also endowed with the Church’s power of petition. Canon 1167 explains how sacramentals must be administered and which rites and Church-approved formulas are to be used.”
To read more about exorcisms and other matters in this arena, I would encourage you to read Fr. Amorth’s book. At a time when paranormal activity is on a rise and television programs seem to be promoting these events more than I can remember, it’s good for us to know as Catholics what the Catholic Church teaches on the subject. Messing around with these types of things, which includes activities of the Occult such as witchcraft, curses, horoscopes, superstition, idolatry, magic, and palm readings are not good. More often than not these are the gateways to demonic influence and they should be avoided at all costs.
So what does the Catechism of the Catholic Church state when it comes to exorcisms?
Following Fr. Amorth’s lead, here are four paragraphs from the Catechism that speak about exorcisms and help us see a “logical progression” to the subject –
Christ’s whole life is a mystery of redemption. Redemption comes to us above all through the blood of his cross, but this mystery is at work throughout Christ’s entire life: – already in his Incarnation through which by becoming poor he enriches us with his poverty; – in his hidden life which by his submission atones for our disobedience; – in his word which purifies its hearers; – in his healings and exorcisms by which “he took our infirmities and bore our diseases”; – and in his Resurrection by which he justifies us. [#517]
The coming of God’s kingdom means the defeat of Satan’s: “If it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.” Jesus’ exorcisms free some individuals from the domination of demons. They anticipate Jesus’ great victory over “the ruler of this world”. The kingdom of God will be definitively established through Christ’s cross: “God reigned from the wood.” [#550]
A footnote here is that most believe an exorcism occurs only when someone has been obsessed, but within the rite of Baptism, there is also an exorcism.
Since Baptism signifies liberation from sin and from its instigator the devil, one or more exorcisms are pronounced over the candidate. The celebrant then anoints him with the oil of catechumens, or lays his hands on him, and he explicitly renounces Satan. Thus prepared, he is able to confess the faith of the Church, to which he will be “entrusted” by Baptism. [#1237]
When the Church asks publicly and authoritatively in the name of Jesus Christ that a person or object be protected against the power of the Evil One and withdrawn from his dominion, it is called exorcism. Jesus performed exorcisms and from him the Church has received the power and office of exorcizing.178 In a simple form, exorcism is performed at the celebration of Baptism. The solemn exorcism, called “a major exorcism,” can be performed only by a priest and with the permission of the bishop. The priest must proceed with prudence, strictly observing the rules established by the Church. Exorcism is directed at the expulsion of demons or to the liberation from demonic possession through the spiritual authority which Jesus entrusted to his Church. Illness, especially psychological illness, is a very different matter; treating this is the concern of medical science. Therefore, before an exorcism is performed, it is important to ascertain that one is dealing with the presence of the Evil One, and not an illness. [#1673]
Please pray the St. Michael the Archangel Prayer tonight for all of those involved with this purely “entertainment” driven event. Playing with these forces can lead to great spiritual harm.
I would also encourage you to read two other QLC’s I have written in the past that will assist you in this area – False Gods, Divination, and No Graven Images, and Sacramentals.
St. Michael the Archangel…Pray For Us.
Categories: Quick Lessons from the CCC
Hi Tom. I’m curious to know what you mean by ‘the old Roman Catholic Church’, in the piece on exorcism?
It seems to be some offshoot of the Catholic Church. I think they are schismatic.
Thanks. Love reading your posts.
The Old Catholic Church IS schismatic, separated from the Roman Catholic Church over doctrine, primarily concerned with papal authority and are therefore not in full communion with the Holy See. They do accept the first seven ecumenical councils and doctrine formulated before 1054; their “Union of Utrecht of Old Catholic Churches” is, however, in full communion with the Anglican Communion and are a member of the World Council of Churches. It is sad (and disturbing) that Destination America chose to ignore the Roman Catholic Church and the serious warnings they issued related to this specific event, likely due to the search of higher ratings performance. They are playing with fire here; they did not even take into consideration how television viewers could be considered passive participants and therefore potentially in harms way.