This past weekend the Catholic Church held a special get together just before the general assembly of bishops (in Baltimore, not far from Washington DC, setting of The Exorcist). The subject? Exorcisms.
It seems that there’s been an increase in requests for the rite, and not enough trained clergy to properly dispel devils. And so they had the Conference on the Liturgical and Pastoral Practice of Exorcism, attended by 56 bishops and 66 priests*.
Bishop Thomas J. Paprocki of Springfield, Ill., chairman of the bishops’ Committee on Canonical Affairs and Church Governance, told Catholic News Service he knows of perhaps five or six exorcists in the United States. They are overwhelmed with requests to perform the rite, he said.“There’s this small group of priests who say they get requests from all over the continental U.S.,” Bishop Paprocki said.
Priests ‘overwhelmed’ by the surge in exorcisms?! Increased demonic presence?! Bishop Paprocki insists that there are far fewer people possessed by demons than you might think, and the article says that the rite is performed far more often in Europe. Also, Father Jeffrey Grob of Illinois, who led a session at the conference, says that exorcisms are usually less dramatic than we see in the movies. They can require the repetition of rites for months or even years.
So how do you know if you or a loved one is possessed? The Catholic News Service includes this handy dandy checklist:
Signs of demonic possession might include:
—Speaking in a language the individual does not know.
—Scratching, cutting, biting of the skin.
—Profound display of strength.
—Lack of appetite.
—Aversion to anything holy, such as mentioning the name of Jesus or Mary, or the act of praying.
—Strong or violent reaction to holy water.
* Please note that there are three 6s in those four numbers.