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Author Topic: Catholic church aiming to expand its exorcism ministry  (Read 2152 times)

Sophia C

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Catholic church aiming to expand its exorcism ministry
« on: May 12, 2014, 11:05:39 am »
This one seems to be aimed at our people: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/vaticancityandholysee/10817788/Decline-of-religious-belief-means-we-need-more-exorcists-say-Catholics.html?utm_content=buffer91e01&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

I may be laughing a bit at the comment that secularism has led to a rise in superstition and irrationality.

From my research, I know that, quite apart from the inter-faith shambles here, there is a disability implication. Exorcism has a disproportionate effect on those with mental health problems, neurodiversity, and some long-term physical health difficulties. From my perspective as a campaigner/researcher with religious disabled people, this is a worrying trend.
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Faemon

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Re: Catholic church aiming to expand its exorcism ministry
« Reply #1 on: May 12, 2014, 01:04:45 pm »
Quote from: Naomi J;147349
This one seems to be aimed at our people: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/vaticancityandholysee/10817788/Decline-of-religious-belief-means-we-need-more-exorcists-say-Catholics.html?utm_content=buffer91e01&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

I may be laughing a bit at the comment that secularism has led to a rise in superstition and irrationality.

The strangest part to me was this:

Quote
The six-day meeting in Rome aims to train about 200 Roman Catholic priests from more than 30 countries in how to cast out evil from people who believe themselves to be in thrall to the Devil.

So...if there's a decline in religion, then there's a decline in belief of demonic possession, therefore...frankly...there won't be this cultural consideration of the option of demonic possession. So there might as well not be.

This is me asserting that we're considering a paradigm, not a natural phenomenon.

I sort of also have to throw in the inter-faith shamble, because I do technically host a lot of daimons in my psyche. The Jungian daimones, not the Hellenistic ones. They ain't even named gods anymore that much.

I used to have really horrible demons. I prayed to the big G. I prayed to the angels. Zee googles zey do nothing.

So, I would definitely take offense and perhaps even umbrage to the sentiment that, because I've found ones that I have determined truly care for me and would/do help me... I should be exorcised? If that would really help troubled people, then great, but that's not the only way to work it out and it might not even be the best way for some individuals.
« Last Edit: May 12, 2014, 01:06:26 pm by Faemon »
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RandallS

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Re: Catholic church aiming to expand its exorcism ministry
« Reply #2 on: May 12, 2014, 03:22:08 pm »
Quote from: Naomi J;147349
From my research, I know that, quite apart from the inter-faith shambles here, there is a disability implication. Exorcism has a disproportionate effect on those with mental health problems, neurodiversity, and some long-term physical health difficulties. From my perspective as a campaigner/researcher with religious disabled people, this is a worrying trend.

Unlike some Bible churches (and other fundie churches) in the US, the Catholic church does not believe that mental illness is caused by demons so the mentally ill are seldom subjects for Catholic exorcisms. Exorcisms are fairly strictly controlled -- in most dioceses the bishop has to grant permission for each one and most dioceses only have one qualified exorcist available. And like miracles, the Catholic church is fairly skeptical about possession and the like.
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Sophia C

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Re: Catholic church aiming to expand its exorcism ministry
« Reply #3 on: May 12, 2014, 03:55:02 pm »
Quote from: RandallS;147359
Unlike some Bible churches (and other fundie churches) in the US, the Catholic church does not believe that mental illness is caused by demons so the mentally ill are seldom subjects for Catholic exorcisms. Exorcisms are fairly strictly controlled -- in most dioceses the bishop has to grant permission for each one and most dioceses only have one qualified exorcist available. And like miracles, the Catholic church is fairly skeptical about possession and the like.

The official belief may not be related to mental illness, but my research suggests the link is still perpetuated at church level.
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RandallS

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Re: Catholic church aiming to expand its exorcism ministry
« Reply #4 on: May 12, 2014, 09:57:04 pm »
Quote from: Naomi J;147360
The official belief may not be related to mental illness, but my research suggests the link is still perpetuated at church level.

I haven't seen much of that around here. At least not from priests and other actual leaders in the Catholic Church. I'm sure there are lay members who believe all sorts of stuff, however. I will not that my view of the Catholic Church on this may be colored by what I see in Bible and Fundamentalist churches in the areas I've lived -- where some have exorcisms as a regular feature of services for anything from possession to the common cold. Talking back to parents can get a child exorcised. Etc. The Catholic Church, in comparison, is "sane" about it.
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MadZealot

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Re: Catholic church aiming to expand its exorcism ministry
« Reply #5 on: May 13, 2014, 12:27:21 am »
Quote from: RandallS;147359
Unlike some Bible churches (and other fundie churches) in the US, the Catholic church does not believe that mental illness is caused by demons so the mentally ill are seldom subjects for Catholic exorcisms.

That's my understanding as well; also, the church consults with medical & psychiatric professionals to address/rule out illness prior to the rite being performed.  Hey, look, they've crawled partway out of the Dark Ages.

That being said... looks like a cool summer job.
« Last Edit: May 13, 2014, 12:29:31 am by MadZealot »
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Sophia C

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Re: Catholic church aiming to expand its exorcism ministry
« Reply #6 on: May 13, 2014, 06:54:54 am »
Quote from: RandallS;147386
I haven't seen much of that around here. At least not from priests and other actual leaders in the Catholic Church. I'm sure there are lay members who believe all sorts of stuff, however. I will not that my view of the Catholic Church on this may be colored by what I see in Bible and Fundamentalist churches in the areas I've lived -- where some have exorcisms as a regular feature of services for anything from possession to the common cold. Talking back to parents can get a child exorcised. Etc. The Catholic Church, in comparison, is "sane" about it.

 
Oh, I think you're probably right about that. There are degrees of problematic, when it comes to this issue, and the Roman Catholic Church is certainly on the saner end of things.

But official beliefs encourage informal beliefs. The history of modern healing movements is relevant here. The Catholic Charismatic movement and Protestant healing movements actually developed together, from the mid-twentieth century onwards, and churches had strong influence over each other in terms of healing and demon-possession ministries - worldwide. Today the Catholic Charismatic Movement has an extensive informal healing ministry, sometimes with input from priests, sometimes not. This includes healing from demons, which is now called 'deliverance' rather than 'exorcism' in that movement, but involves exactly the same beliefs and (often) the same process of casting out demons.

Book references (a mix of etic sociological and emic theological): 'Ritual Healing in Suburban America' by M.B. McGuire (a generally fantastic book), 'The Rebirth of Latin American Christianity' by T. Hartch, 'Cleansing the Cosmos: a Biblical Model for Conceptualizing and Counteracting Evil' by J.E. Warren, and anything you can find by Francis MacNutt, who was behind much of the growth of healing and 'deliverance' (from demons) ministries in both Catholic Charismastic communities and a large and growing number of Protestant churches. here's a link that talks about it online. That link doesn't mention that priests are sometimes involved and that in that case, the ritual is often identical to the official exorcism rite of the Roman Catholic Church. Here's another link that makes that clearer. As the priest in that resources says, towards the end of the article: the ministry of deliverance is growing, and both priests and laypeople are increasingly getting involved.

My own research with disabled Christians (and those with mental health problems) may also be of interest here, eventually - but it's not published yet.

To admit my own bias here: my experiences of 'deliverance' were from members of both the Elim Pentecostal church and the Catholic Charismatic Movement. (Being undiagnosed Asperger's and mis-diagnosed bipolar in charismatic churches can end you up in some odd situations.)

But I'm actually FAR more interested in the inter-faith issues associated with this situation. The article suggests that exorcism is increasingly being aimed at those involved with the occult. Does that raise issues for any Pagans? It does for me. As someone very involved with inter-faith work, I'm concerned not only about the representation of Paganism in inter-faith, but also about what might happen to people who try to leave the Catholic church for a Pagan religion. I'm thinking particularly of two lovely 17-year-olds whose class I spoke in two weeks ago, at a Catholic school. After my talk, they said to me that they are very interested in Paganism (one was doing a research project on it). I'm concerned for young people in this kind of situation, under the influence of the Catholic church but wanting to explore Pagan paths.

There are also ongoing issues for Pagans trying to work in inter-faith situations. In this country, the Druid Network has been trying to join the National Interfaith Network for years now. They have had all kinds of accusations levelled at them, which I'm not going to discuss on a public forum, but which are worrying in this context. While Christian churches officially represent (some) Pagans as not only deviant but demon-possessed, I'm not sure it will help inter-faith matters at all. (The Church of England is actually working on this issue at the moment, and is rescinding its material that suggests New Religious Movements, including Pagan ones, are demonic.)
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RandallS

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Re: Catholic church aiming to expand its exorcism ministry
« Reply #7 on: May 13, 2014, 05:36:12 pm »
Quote from: Naomi J;147407
Today the Catholic Charismatic Movement has an extensive informal healing ministry, sometimes with input from priests, sometimes not. This includes healing from demons, which is now called 'deliverance' rather than 'exorcism' in that movement, but involves exactly the same beliefs and (often) the same process of casting out demons.

If Catholic priests are participating and actually doing exorcisms, then they should probably be reported to their bishop as they likely are not authorized to do so -- and probably lack the special training that those who are authorized receive (which includes being sure that it isn't mental illness).

Quote
Book references (a mix of etic sociological and emic theological):

I'll see if I can get a couple of those.

Quote
But I'm actually FAR more interested in the inter-faith issues associated with this situation. The article suggests that exorcism is increasingly being aimed at those involved with the occult. Does that raise issues for any Pagans?


It really doesn't raise major issues for me. If someone wants to believe that my deities are demons, that's certainly their right. If someone wants to exorcise said "demons" that's certainly something permitted by the First Amendment in the US. However, they can't make me participate nor than they prevent me from laughing at their attempts.

Quote
It does for me. As someone very involved with inter-faith work, I'm concerned not only about the representation of Paganism in inter-faith, but also about what might happen to people who try to leave the Catholic church for a Pagan religion. I'm thinking particularly of two lovely 17-year-olds whose class I spoke in two weeks ago, at a Catholic school. After my talk, they said to me that they are very interested in Paganism (one was doing a research project on it). I'm concerned for young people in this kind of situation, under the influence of the Catholic church but wanting to explore Pagan paths.

I've known a number of people from Catholic and Fundamentalist Protestant background who have explored Pagan paths. If they are under 18, however, their parents certainly have the right to try to stop them -- however, in most cases I'm aware of trying to stop them just made them more interested in leaving with religion for another.

Quote
There are also ongoing issues for Pagans trying to work in inter-faith situations. In this country, the Druid Network has been trying to join the National Interfaith Network for years now. They have had all kinds of accusations levelled at them, which I'm not going to discuss on a public forum, but which are worrying in this context.


In the US, this is so normal that most are just used to it. Some Christian denominatiions in the US even believe that other Christian denominations are "demonic".  Fundie Protestant groups often believe that of the Catholic Church (and often also believe that the Pope either is a demon or is possessed by one). You just do interfaith work with those from other beliefs who are sane about it and don't bother with trying to deal with those who aren't.
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SunflowerP

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Re: Catholic church aiming to expand its exorcism ministry
« Reply #8 on: May 14, 2014, 01:57:56 am »
Quote from: Naomi J;147407
But official beliefs encourage informal beliefs. The history of modern healing movements is relevant here. The Catholic Charismatic movement and Protestant healing movements actually developed together, from the mid-twentieth century onwards, and churches had strong influence over each other in terms of healing and demon-possession ministries - worldwide. Today the Catholic Charismatic Movement has an extensive informal healing ministry, sometimes with input from priests, sometimes not. This includes healing from demons, which is now called 'deliverance' rather than 'exorcism' in that movement, but involves exactly the same beliefs and (often) the same process of casting out demons.

Book references (a mix of etic sociological and emic theological): 'Ritual Healing in Suburban America' by M.B. McGuire (a generally fantastic book), 'The Rebirth of Latin American Christianity' by T. Hartch, 'Cleansing the Cosmos: a Biblical Model for Conceptualizing and Counteracting Evil' by J.E. Warren, and anything you can find by Francis MacNutt, who was behind much of the growth of healing and 'deliverance' (from demons) ministries in both Catholic Charismastic communities and a large and growing number of Protestant churches. here's a link that talks about it online. That link doesn't mention that priests are sometimes involved and that in that case, the ritual is often identical to the official exorcism rite of the Roman Catholic Church. Here's another link that makes that clearer. As the priest in that resources says, towards the end of the article: the ministry of deliverance is growing, and both priests and laypeople are increasingly getting involved.

 
You've just helped to clear up something that I'd found confusing about the original article: I couldn't tell if what was being described was official activity of the Catholic Church, or 'extralegal' grassroots activity. It seems that's not a clear either/or; it really is sort of both.

I too find this disturbing in terms of its potential additional impact on already-marginalized people.

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Sophia C

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Re: Catholic church aiming to expand its exorcism ministry
« Reply #9 on: May 14, 2014, 04:37:00 am »
Quote from: SunflowerP;147509
You've just helped to clear up something that I'd found confusing about the original article: I couldn't tell if what was being described was official activity of the Catholic Church, or 'extralegal' grassroots activity. It seems that's not a clear either/or; it really is sort of both.

I too find this disturbing in terms of its potential additional impact on already-marginalized people.

Sunflower

 
Yeah. It's easy to say that priests get training in recognising mental illness. But those of us who have been misdiagnosed by psychiatrists for years know how difficult it can be to establish what mental illness is. Social construction is a powerful thing. A person who has been brought up to believe they can be demonised may themselves 'read' their experiences as demonic. If their mental illness presents in complex or unusual ways, and they believe it is demonic, it could be surprisingly easy for priests to mistake an illness for demonic influence.

Ethnographic sociology takes a 'methodologically agnostic' approach to phenomena. I may not personally believe demons exist, at least not in the RC understanding of them, but my role here is to ask what is going on when exorcism happens, from all perspectives - including that of the exorcists, the exorcised, and the rest of society. Sociologically, I have to take the standpoint that demons exist because the priests and laypeople believe in them. As Faemon says, we're dealing with a paradigm, and I'm interested in the social construction of that paradigm. It's not my role to say that priests should or should not be conducting informal exorcisms. I'm interested in the effects of the expansion of the official rites of exorcism, the effects of this on informal belief and practice, and the effects for social groups including marginalized people. I can see this potentially affecting everyone from LGBT people to people exploring other religions. My job as a sociologist is to give those people insight into what's going on, from as many perspectives as possible. My hope as an activist is that they can use that to empower themselves.
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Castus

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Re: Catholic church aiming to expand its exorcism ministry
« Reply #10 on: May 14, 2014, 05:21:50 pm »
Quote from: Naomi J;147349
This one seems to be aimed at our people: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/vaticancityandholysee/10817788/Decline-of-religious-belief-means-we-need-more-exorcists-say-Catholics.html?utm_content=buffer91e01&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

I may be laughing a bit at the comment that secularism has led to a rise in superstition and irrationality.

From my research, I know that, quite apart from the inter-faith shambles here, there is a disability implication. Exorcism has a disproportionate effect on those with mental health problems, neurodiversity, and some long-term physical health difficulties. From my perspective as a campaigner/researcher with religious disabled people, this is a worrying trend.

 
Seems like this is more an affair of "interest groups" or the laity than anything coming direct from the Vatican. Still, very interesting. I've always been interested in how the Church handles exorcisms and I was under the impression they'd been on the decline.

Also, Nostra Aetate applies to pagans too, mmkay?
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Sophia C

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Re: Catholic church aiming to expand its exorcism ministry
« Reply #11 on: May 14, 2014, 05:33:02 pm »
Quote from: Castus;147557
Seems like this is more an affair of "interest groups" or the laity than anything coming direct from the Vatican. Still, very interesting. I've always been interested in how the Church handles exorcisms and I was under the impression they'd been on the decline.

Also, Nostra Aetate applies to pagans too, mmkay?

 
I wonder how the priests involved in this would square Nostra Aetate with the following, from the article:

"The decline of religious belief in the West and the growth of secularism has “opened the window” to black magic, Satanism and belief in the occult, the organisers of a conference on exorcism have said."

It reads to me as though demonic activity is being equated with New Religious Movements with content that is sometimes called 'occult'. Such as some Pagan religions.

We can't be sure what the media reports is accurate to what was said, though, of course.
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Castus

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Re: Catholic church aiming to expand its exorcism ministry
« Reply #12 on: May 14, 2014, 06:02:01 pm »
Quote from: Naomi J;147559
I wonder how the priests involved in this would square Nostra Aetate with the following, from the article:

"The decline of religious belief in the West and the growth of secularism has “opened the window” to black magic, Satanism and belief in the occult, the organisers of a conference on exorcism have said."

It reads to me as though demonic activity is being equated with New Religious Movements with content that is sometimes called 'occult'. Such as some Pagan religions.

We can't be sure what the media reports is accurate to what was said, though, of course.

 
Sadly, what the Church (and society at large) considers to be an actual, legitimate religion rather than occultist heathens doing black magic is not always the pinnacle of religious tolerance. I suspect many of them would state that Nostra Aetate doesn't quite apply. The fact that secularism (understood generally within a Catholic context as the decline of organised religions and the concurrent loss of influence by those religions over society) is pointed to as either correlation or causation for the supposed growth of occultism/black magic seems to rather heavily imply that, as far as  the Church or her children are concerned, such practices fall outside religious boundaries.
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