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Pope Francis never stops talking about the Devil; it’s constant.
June 1, 2014 12:09 PM   Subscribe

"A modern pope gets old school on the Devil" by Anthony Faiola
"Witness to an Exorcism" -An interview with Anthony Faiola
"The Exorcists Next Door"
In their tidy suburban home, Marion and Larry Pollard have dug deep into the recesses of the Scriptures to save tortured souls—and command demons to get out. Get out now!
posted by davidstandaford (64 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
“He is opening the door to superstition,” said Vito Mancuso, a Catholic theologian and writer.

Pretty sure that door's already open.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:40 PM on June 1 [11 favorites]


“He is opening the door to superstition,” said Vito Mancuso, a Catholic theologian and writer. Among the things lurking behind that door is the alleged gateway to hell guarded by the small cluster of officially anointed exorcists of the Roman Catholic Church.

Wait, what? You can't drop that line and just move on.
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 12:43 PM on June 1 [18 favorites]


"During the conference, the Rev. Cesar Truqui, an exorcist based in Switzerland, recounted one experience he had aboard a Swissair flight. “Two lesbians,” he said, had sat behind him on the plane. Soon afterward, he said, he felt Satan’s presence. As he silently sought to repel the evil spirit through prayer, one of the women, he said, began growling demonically and threw chocolates at his head."
This is precisely why I always ask if there is any lesbians on the flight before I board the plane. I mean the free chocolate is great but the constant demonic growling really gets to you especially on longer flights.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 12:56 PM on June 1 [54 favorites]


Get out of those buttocks, Satan!
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:58 PM on June 1


A bit more on Vito Mancuso.
posted by IndigoJones at 12:59 PM on June 1 [1 favorite]


One of these days I'm gonna have to do a blog post about the conversation I got to have with Father Peter O'Malley, who was an actual priest who had a small part in The Exorcist. It was actually really reassuring - his attitude was that yes, evil is real and yes, exorcisms are things that sometimes need to happen- but you only go down that road after you are absolutely positively 100% sure that there isn't another explanation for what's going on. There are actually 4 conditions a case has to meet before exorcism is called for, and they're all pretty squarely in the ream of "yeah, something officially weird is going on".

There are, though, some other factions who are much more Mulder about this than Scully. That priest who got chocolate thrown at him on the plane, for instance. The 4 conditions sometimes may be called for to keep them in check.

Francis saying the devil exists isn't alarming in and of itself; if he changes the lead up to exorcism, THEN I'd worry.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:01 PM on June 1 [8 favorites]


Oh, and the "secret door to hell in the Vatican" isn't the weirdest thing anyone's claimed, either. Check out the claims of Malachi Martin Sometime.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:04 PM on June 1 [1 favorite]


But by focusing on old-school interpretations of the Devil, some progressive theologians complain, the pope is undermining his reputation as a leader who in so many other ways appears to be more in step with modern society than his predecessor.

These progressive theologians sound really, really boring. Not to mention unduly content with the current socioeconomic order. (I still can't believe I'm cheering for the Pope.)
posted by feral_goldfish at 1:10 PM on June 1 [2 favorites]


Please, everyone knows that the secret doorway to Hell was inside you all along!
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:10 PM on June 1 [7 favorites]


With Harold Ramis' death, prospects of a long-awaited sequel to Ghostbusters seemed muddy, to say the least... but who you gonna call when the forces of darkness threaten Armageddon?!

...I think you all know where this is going, right?!
posted by markkraft at 1:32 PM on June 1 [2 favorites]


Mefi, I rebuke you.
posted by clvrmnky at 1:32 PM on June 1


"Please, everyone knows that the secret doorway to Hell was inside you all along!"

And here I was, thinking it required a partner, a witness, and either a recognized member of the clergy or a justice of the peace.
posted by markkraft at 1:37 PM on June 1 [2 favorites]


I can certainly see an exorcism being called for if the person believes him or herself to be possessed by the devil. The trouble is that it's the church treating something it inflicted itself.
posted by George_Spiggott at 1:38 PM on June 1 [3 favorites]


i have read and heard so much about him, but i remain unpersuaded that the devil actually exists. i've heard that's his greatest trick. i need to see a few more tricks to be sure.
posted by bruce at 1:44 PM on June 1


Oh MeFi. Will you ever stop reminding me of my childhood?

In "our" (not mine anymore OKAYthxbye) version of evangelical Christianity, children could dance while singing songs about Jesus' victory over the Devil while stomping on the floor (because Hell is beneath us) and thus exorcise evil spirits. No priests or fiddly thinking needed. Thinking is human, y'all, I mean seriously, you believe God sits around thinking? NO. Dance around and stomp man, that's all you need.

YMMV, HTH, HAND.
posted by fraula at 1:47 PM on June 1 [2 favorites]


Does it not seem strange that the most frequent and striking examples of 'possession' involve women and sexuality?

The presumed lesbian throwing chocolate at the priest's head is simply bizarre. Best quote is also about that incident: "Asked how he knew the woman was possessed, he said that 'once you hear a Satanic growl, you never forget it. It’s like smelling Margherita pizza for the first time. It’s something you never forget.'"
posted by Anitanola at 1:47 PM on June 1 [12 favorites]


Metafilter: No priests or fiddly thinking needed.
posted by nevercalm at 2:07 PM on June 1


I wonder if they could get Happy out of my head?
posted by double block and bleed at 2:23 PM on June 1 [3 favorites]


I do not believe those women were really lesbians, because come on - throwing chocolate? We don't throw chocolate; we eat it (duh). Even when we're worshiping Satan or being possessed or whatever, we don't throw chocolate.
posted by rtha at 2:26 PM on June 1 [19 favorites]


Just like saying that Jesus is divine subtly allows people to just aspire to his example instead of outright following it, claiming the existence of a literal Devil is a way for people to believe our problems come from outside us, instead of them all being our own damn fault.
posted by JHarris at 2:32 PM on June 1 [1 favorite]


As for "Satanic cults," the only credible such cult I know of is the "Church of Satan," which honestly worships libertarianism more than anything. It might have been excusable not to know this back in the 80s (ROcK N rOLL is OF DA DEBIL D&d SI A GATEWAy tO HELL). We have Google now. Put it together.
posted by JHarris at 2:35 PM on June 1


What I want to know is what Francis is doing about the Super Devil?

For those who are unaware*, the Super Devil is at least 6" taller than the regular devil, has a flying motorcycle, and has a jar of marmalade that is believed to force people to commit adultery. Looks like we have something new to be afraid of.

* or have geographic restrictions to Hulu links on YouTube.
posted by birdherder at 3:01 PM on June 1 [2 favorites]


Do lesbians commonly throw chocolate at people who displease them? Because it seems a self-defeating strategy. On preview: rtha disappoints me.
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:06 PM on June 1 [2 favorites]


Benny Hinn can cast out more demons on a off day than the Pope could point a stick at, hell he can just backhand them out, en masse.
posted by 445supermag at 3:09 PM on June 1 [1 favorite]


"'...It’s like smelling Margherita pizza for the first time. It’s something you never forget.'"

Note to self, remember to smell pizza before eating.
posted by breadbox at 3:35 PM on June 1 [1 favorite]


Asked how he knew the woman was possessed, he said that 'once you hear a Satanic growl, you never forget it. It’s like smelling Margherita pizza for the first time. It’s something you never forget.


It's true! The first time I ever had Margherita pizza- I mean real Margherita pizza, with that nice, bubbly, slightly blackened crust, and fresh basil, and real fior di latte- I remember smelling it and thinking, "Man, this is just like a Satanic growl!"
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 3:36 PM on June 1 [14 favorites]


Well, perhaps they pelted him with that (faux) nouget centered choclate. I could see lesbians (and all right thinking peoples) ejecting that stuff at hostile parties while growling, and simultaniousdly understand how having it thrown at you would provoke feelings of being under attack by the devil.
posted by edgeways at 3:53 PM on June 1


Where these lesbians throwing chocolate at him or merely sharing chocolates with him at speed? Makes all the difference. Also were they those heinous cherry cordials? Cause get those the fuck away from me. Don't need to be down with the sapphic arts to know what to do with those.
posted by Divine_Wino at 4:14 PM on June 1 [6 favorites]


Do lesbians commonly throw chocolate at people who displease them? Because it seems a self-defeating strategy.

Not if you're throwing these at people who annoy, irritate, or otherwise piss off. You don't get to witness vengeance being wrought in person, sure, but just imagining their comeuppance can keep you satisfied for days.
posted by mudpuppie at 4:33 PM on June 1


Claiming the existence of a literal Devil is a way for people to believe our problems come from outside us, instead of them all being our own damn fault.

I'm not sure I'd want to lecture Columbian and Bolivian miners and plantation workers on how their problems are really all their own damn fault. (Or even that they're the fault of humanity as a species, without regard to center/periphery power relations.)

Thinking here of Michael Taussig's The Devil and Commodity Fetishism in South America.
posted by feral_goldfish at 5:02 PM on June 1 [1 favorite]


Where these lesbians throwing chocolate at him or merely sharing chocolates with him at speed? Makes all the difference.

#YESALLCHOCOLATE
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:07 PM on June 1 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I'd think having chocolate thrown at you would be a good thing. (Provided there's no mint. I've never been able to abide mint. I recognize that's a personal failing, not universal, but still.)
posted by JHarris at 5:29 PM on June 1


Anitanola wrote: Does it not seem strange that the most frequent and striking examples of 'possession' involve women and sexuality?

That's a good point. Stories of poltergeists and dybbuks notoriously involve young women, particularly those in constrained social circumstances: such as servants or those of marriageable age. Manifesting supernatural symptoms might be a way of relieving social pressure or reclaiming power. And expressing those symptoms as possession lets the sufferer ascribe them to something external, for which they don't need to blame themselves and for which they can't be blamed. It's also safer than claiming to be a witch, of course.
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:39 PM on June 1 [1 favorite]


I've never been able to abide mint.

You are clearly possessed by some sort of culinary demon.

[mintlover 4 life]
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:57 PM on June 1 [1 favorite]


Of course lesbians would never throw chocolate at a priest. That's how you know they had the devil inside them.

I think it's actually one of the four tests to prove demonic possession. You give a woman a box of chocolates. If she throws it back at you, she's possessed and you perform an exorcism. If she eats them she's a witch. If she ignores the chocolates and takes a bite out of your arm, she's a zombie.
posted by kanewai at 6:08 PM on June 1 [7 favorites]


EmpressCallipygos: they're all pretty squarely in the ream of "yeah, something officially weird is going on".

What does "something officially weird" mean?
posted by sneebler at 7:13 PM on June 1


What does "something officially weird" mean?

It's been a LONG time since I looked this up (I was doing research on exorcism as part of a project where I was working - long story), so I don't remember all four, but they were things like:

1. Knows about things that they could not possibly have found out normally. Like, someone they just met for the first time ever in their life, they know that "you imagine your wife is a sheep when you're having sex" or "you stole your Mom's silver watch" or whatever.

2. Knows a language that they couldn't possibly know normally. Like, it's an eight-year-old in Iowa who's suddenly developed the ability to speak in fluent ancient Etruscan.

3. Superhuman strength.

I THINK the fourth one is something like weird marks or scratches spontaneously developing on their body as people are watching (not like, you go in to check on the kids and find that their face is scratched, more like "I'm sitting there looking at you and watching a scratch trace its way down your cheek but nothing is touching you omigod where is that scratch coming from").

The thing is that, if memory serves, ALL of those conditions have to be met for an exorcism to take place. It's not like "whelp, Cindy's talking funny, she must be possessed!"
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:40 PM on June 1 [5 favorites]


I'm not sure I'd want to lecture Columbian and Bolivian miners and plantation workers on how their problems are really all their own damn fault.

My own upbringing involved belief in a literal devil. If I'm not qualified to lecture them, who the heck would be? Anyway, the problems I'm talking about are those of personal failings, not economic ones, which I think should be obvious?

The problems faced by the groups you name, I haven't read the book you mention, I'd rather they see their lot in life accurately blamed on greedy and rapacious human beings than mythical spirit-people, whatever they're named. The Amazon link for it implies that it takes a Marxist view. I rather think Marx would agree with me.
posted by JHarris at 7:52 PM on June 1


the problems I'm talking about are those of personal failings, not economic ones, which I think should be obvious?

Why would it be obvious? Your topic was "belief in the existence of a literal Devil'. And since their notion of the Devil is grounded in their economic experience, your upbringing does not necessarily qualify you to lecture them. Also, Marx didn't blame human greed so much as the complex web of economic exchanges that he called commodity fetishism (referring to the Victorian usage in which 'fetish' meant an object that is worshipped as a god). it's arguable that beliefs about 'mythical spirit people' actually do a more adequate job symbolizing the snares of capitalism than do mere representations of people as greedy.
posted by feral_goldfish at 8:23 PM on June 1


I can certainly see an exorcism being called for if the person believes him or herself to be possessed by the devil. The trouble is that it's the church treating something it inflicted itself.

That attribution seems plausible for female sexual guilt, but less so when we're talking about guilt for one's ancestors' participation in white supremacist atrocities.
posted by feral_goldfish at 8:28 PM on June 1


claiming the existence of a literal Devil is a way for people to believe our problems come from outside us, instead of them all being our own damn fault.

That's one reading, and people who are looking to avoid responsibility certainly sometimes use it that way.

There are also people who read/use the existence of a literal Devil as reinforcing the need to be responsible about watching/checking their negative impulses.

(And it's just a guess, but I suspect that responsibility-avoiding isn't at all dependent on the concept of a literal Devil and would linger fairly stubbornly even if you banished such a concept -- it's almost as if this is woven into some part of human nature instead of coming from a narrative imposed from the outside.)
posted by weston at 10:20 PM on June 1 [1 favorite]


2. Knows a language that they couldn't possibly know normally. Like, it's an eight-year-old in Iowa who's suddenly developed the ability to speak in fluent ancient Etruscan.

I thought speaking in tongues was a signs of holiness.
posted by a humble nudibranch at 1:08 AM on June 2


2. Knows a language that they couldn't possibly know normally. Like, it's an eight-year-old in Iowa who's suddenly developed the ability to speak in fluent ancient Etruscan.

And then they waste a magnificent career in archaeology and/or paleography by exorcising the demon :( Do you know how many opportunities of deciphering Linear A have been wasted by a premature exorcism?

As for young women and possession, don't forget the odd case of mass hysteria like the one with the nuns of Loudun.
posted by sukeban at 1:29 AM on June 2 [1 favorite]


I thought speaking in tongues was a signs of holiness.

Number one, different denomination; number two, that's why you need all four conditions.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:28 AM on June 2 [1 favorite]


It's easy to treat the practice of excorcism as a joke, but the fact that it is being sought out and offered as a treatment for mental illnesses - an alternative to proper diagnosis and treatment - is actually pretty serious. There are people out there with real, serious mental conditions, being told by the Church that their illness is actually demonic possession. This is dangerous.
posted by moorooka at 2:35 AM on June 2 [1 favorite]


Mooroka - the RCC actually insists people see a doctor for mental illness FIRST. They insist people make sure it ISN'T mental illness before they do anything.

It's other denominations that you may be thinking of.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:44 AM on June 2 [1 favorite]


While they may be more rigurous before doing an actual exorcism with authorisation from the bishop and all, the chocolate lesbians story is an example that some priests toss the demonic possession label a tad too lightly.
posted by sukeban at 2:48 AM on June 2 [1 favorite]


THOSE WEREN'T CHOCOLATES...
posted by Joseph Gurl at 2:58 AM on June 2


While they may be more rigurous before doing an actual exorcism with authorisation from the bishop and all, the chocolate lesbians story is an example that some priests toss the demonic possession label a tad too lightly.

I don't deny that. But that's why they make guys like that get authorization from the bishop before doing an official exorcism. I wouldn't be surprised if, after this article came out someone went to talk to the guy and was all, "dude. Just, no."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:18 AM on June 2 [1 favorite]


It's other denominations that you may be thinking of.

No it's not actually! I am talking about the Catholic Church here - PM me if you want details.

That "see a real doctor first" policy you mention is just an ass-covering disclaimer. In practice, the Church most certainly does perform excorcisms on people with mental illnesses, and whether or not they have a formal policy of telling them to also see a doctor, they certainly don't require, like, evidence of a clean bill of mental health (otherwise I expect far fewer excorcisms, if any, would be performed).

What they're actually peddling is a diagnosis - of demonic possession - that is totally incompatable with, and which absolutely undermines, proper mental health treatment.

Telling a schizophrenic that they're not actually ill but are demon-possessed is extraordinarily irresponsible. When I found out that the modern Church actually does this I couldn't believe it, but they do.

Saying that they should only get an excorcism if they've also seen a real doctor is bullshit when what they are doing is inviting the patient to disregard and distrust professional diagnoses. It's stupid, has positively no benefit, and the Church should put a formal end to this absurd, dangerous medieval practice.
posted by moorooka at 4:55 AM on June 2 [1 favorite]


All I can tell you is that I spent a year researching this for a job project - it's how I actually ended up having that conversation with Fr. O'Malley, because he was a consultant for the movie as well as being in it - and that this is what I found.

I do not deny, and have not denied, that there aren't people who are outliers and wing-nuts, and who try to circumvent the rules that are in place. It's possible I misunderstood the chain of command in terms of whether or not someone is supposed to get permission from the bishop before performing an exorcism, but I doubt it; more likely, whoever did whatever it was that happened to the person you're referring to probably just went ahead and did it when they weren't supposed to.

But that's different from saying that the rules aren't there at all, which is what you're implying. The official policy of the Catholic Church is to insist people make sure it's not a mental illness first. The fact that there are rulebreakers does not negate the existance of the rule outright; it's not like the fact that people commit shoplifting in this country is a sign that the police are secretly encouraging people to just shoplift.

I say all of this with sincere sympathy for what happened to your friend, and I agree with you in that it was indeed a travesty. I am only disagreeing with you on whether this was a travesty which was endorsed by the church entire, as opposed to being an instance of one guy or one subset that was grossly overstepping their bounds.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:22 AM on June 2 [2 favorites]


Oooh, another thought (which I'll admit I don't know much about, but may go research because now I"m curious) - I wonder if the priest you're discussing was a Traditionalist or a Sedevacantist? Those are the uber-conservative factions of Catholicism who tend to take a much, much more hardline, strict-dogma view of the faith, and while I don't know what the Sedevacantist view of exorcism is, I wouldn't be surprised if they're more lax on letting people do them.

(Incidentally, the Sedevacantists are a faction that believe that every papal election since 1963 has been invalid because they believe the reforms of Vatican II were a mistake, and place the blame for Vatican II even happening squarely on the Vatican culture of the time - they believe that the church went to shit then and hasn't ever recovered, so all the popes since then "don't count" in their minds.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:26 AM on June 2


Pope Black Francis never stops talking about the Devil

FTFY.

I thought speaking in tongues was a signs of holiness.

It is -- unless it's not! (See how open-minded the church is?)
posted by aught at 8:08 AM on June 2


Dude spends a lot of time contemplating the abuses of global capitalism. Very understandable that he'd come to believe Satan roamed free on the Earth.

Seriously though, it makes sense in terms of bringing the sensibilities of the Global South into the Vatican. In the public sphere, a critique of the abuses of economic power, and in the private sphere, an appreciation for the importance of folk-magical personal devotion, of which exorcism is the most sensational part.
posted by edheil at 8:49 AM on June 2 [1 favorite]


aught - the church that does the speaking-in-tongues thing is the Pentacostals, which is a charismatic Evangelcal denomination quite different from the Catholic Church.

Not only would they confirm that they don't follow the Pope and the teachings of the Catholic Church, some Pentacostals would actually be insulted that you got them confused with Catholics. (Have a look at what Jack Chick says about Catholics sometime.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:49 AM on June 2


(Have a look at what Jack Chick says about Catholics sometime.)

One of the more egregious examples: The Death Cookie, which caused a pre-lapse young Catholic me no end of hilarity and/or confusion.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 9:49 AM on June 2


And the tongues that charismatics speak in are not actual human languages. The cases known to me of Catholic exorcisms/possession involve the victims speaking in Latin or German, producing sentences which make sense and are grammatically well-formed. They are extremely rare. I have Anglican (C of E) friends who are occasionally asked to perform exorcisms and there, too, there is an absolutely solid official, bureaucratic SOP.

Outside the organised churches, it is crazy and sometimes really dangerous. I have been to big pentecostal services in London where you can hear people screaming in the darkness as they are "exorcised" - and while it might sometimes be therapeutic it is also horrible and frightening and sometimes ends really badly.

But the dividing line is not the denomination's attitude to evil spirits, but to modern medicine. The Catholic church, after all, runs hospitals. Pentecostal entrepreneurs, not so much.
posted by alloneword at 10:56 AM on June 2 [2 favorites]


I'm back with a Sedevacantists-and-exorcisms report!

Yep, they do 'em. They also state - as does the church, for that matter - that any priest is able to perform an exorcism.

Where we get into the bit relevant to our interests, though, is the chain-of-command thing. I found discussions of a Bishop McKenna, who seems to be somewhat of a name among Sedevacantist and Catholic Traditionalist circles - and, also someone who's all up into doing exorcisms. Or at least he was - he's retired from the clergy now.

And, before he retired, he was a member of a Traditionalist Catholic organization which the mainstream church itself has kind of disowned. And that's where the bit that may be relevant to this discussion comes in - he became a bishop first, and while he was a bishop he was consecrating priests; he was also giving the green light on exorcisms. And it was only after he'd been doing that a while that a) the church started realizing he was kind of nutty, and b) he started drifting away from the church himself. Finally it got to a point where he claimed to be performing exorcisms, but the mainstream church was disavowing his actions because they don't recognize his authority.

That's where the heart of the conflict is - is in the fact that in McKenna's mind, he was still a Catholic bishop, but in the opinion of the church, he wasn't any more. He wasn't excommunicated, he just...wasn't a bishop any more. But McKenna just called that ruling bullshit and kept on keepin' on. And presumably, other priests who came to him asking leave to perform an exorcism got the green light - even though he technically wasn't in a position to give that green light any more. And in terms of what the Vatican can do about the guy, they've done it - they've basically fired him already. He was just doing a George Costanza and still showing up at the office.

---

In terms of how this affects discussions of Francis (she said, dragging this back to the topic), I think the question is whether Francis is going to be more like the Sedevacantists when it comes to exorcism, or whether he was speaking mostly theologically but still is hewing to established procedure. My hunch is that, as a Jesuit, it's more the latter; yeah, he believes in the Devil, and so did Father O'Malley, but Jesuits also tend to believe that you apply logic to a situation first. (Father O'Malley even quoted Shakespeare when describing why he believed in the Devil - "there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy"; basically, there's shit we still don't understand, so it's at least possible; but he still believed that you rule out the obvious explanations first.) A lot of Francis' other policies are in conflict with a lot of Sedevacantist positions, so I doubt he'd be taking up with their policy on the procedure of exorcism - or at least, if he does, I'd be really surprised.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:34 AM on June 2 [3 favorites]


No, again, empress. Please stop telling me that I'm wrong or confused here (it's a little insulting actually).

I know about Sedevacantists - but this was garden-variety RCC that did this. It's a big, international Church, it might not operate the exact same way all over the world. In any case, I'm not denying that some "rule" may exist, I'm just saying that it's not a formal requirement for a formal psychiatric evaluation. I have no doubt that you spent time researching this topic, but I can assert that whatever your Father O'Malley might have said, the Church, in practice, does not require a professional psychiatric diagnosis of mental health prior to performing excorcisms.
posted by moorooka at 12:53 PM on June 2


then I guess we're at an impasse. I don't know what else to say.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:07 PM on June 2


"secret door to hell in the Vatican"

This seems like it'd be a great premise for a raucous comedy. Admittedly the funniest thing I can think of right now is Pope Francis leaving a flaming bag of dog poop on the stoop and ringing the doorbell to hell before running away.

Or just randomly opening the door and yelling, "seriously, Satan, what the fuck?"
posted by wabbittwax at 1:11 PM on June 2 [3 favorites]


Hang on --

the fact that it is a big, international church is precisely my point. The fact that you ran into some scofflaws should not be taken as proof that the Vatican is secretly encouraging exorcisms as policy.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:13 PM on June 2


It's evidence that excorcisms happen without any requirement for formal psychiatric assessment.

There's a difference between requiring an excorcist to tell the patient to also see a doctor (which in this case, he did), and requiring an excorcist to refuse to perform excorcisms without himself first consulting said doctor. Of course the Vatican doesn't impose such a requirement - how many excorcisms would happen if a psychiatrist had to sign off on every one of them?

Moreover, as you may appreciate, the Church is extremely secretive about the whole practice of excorcism (since it holds the church up to well-deserved ridicule), which makes it difficult to know what, specifically, the rules are, and how strictly (if at all) these rules are enforced.

I guess what I find insulting (being somewhat emotionally invested in this topic) is your assertion that I mixed my churches up. As if, for example, I asserted that sexual abuse was endemic in the Catholic Church, and you wanted to tell me that I must have got my churches wrong since the Catholic Church requires it's priests to be celibate, and therefore it must have been a different church. Then grudgingly conceding the possibility of a 'bad apple'.

I know it's not the same thing. But since the practice of excorcism has no redeeming value of any kind, and since it's reasonable to assume that much of the demand for this 'service' comes from the mentally unwell, that the continuation of this practice is stupid, wrong and irresponsible and should be abandoned.
posted by moorooka at 4:56 PM on June 2 [1 favorite]


the fact that it is a big, international church is precisely my point. The fact that you ran into some scofflaws should not be taken as proof that the Vatican is secretly encouraging exorcisms as policy.

Does policy matter? Police departments have policies against killing suspects. The RCC presumably has a policy against the raping kids. Doesn't seem to change the fact that a certain amount of enabling happens.

(I understand that child rape is not a matter for religious debate in the RCC, unlike perhaps exorcism.)
posted by um at 8:27 PM on June 2


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