“There were only a small number of priests who had any real expertise, and they were getting calls from all over the country.” So many attended the conference, he said – “They must have requests.” Bishop Thomas Paprocki
In October 2010, a Catholic conference was held in Baltimore, Maryland (preceding yet another) attended by 56 US Bishops and 66 Priests. That Bishops had bothered to attend was indeed a novelty because the annual conference is normally only attended by Priests. What the focus of this conference is certainly surprising considering that it was held in a (theoretically) civilised country. None the less, these Priests and Bishops find reason to gather every year to discuss exorcism.
While all Catholic priests are permitted by the Vatican to perform these ceremonies, very few American are trained and able to. Though how much training does it take in order to become ‘proficient’ in bullying, manipulating, and terrifying and further brainwashing an already troubled individual into first believing that their troubles are due to a demonic possession and secondly that their lifestyle had allowed the possession to occur in the first place. The conference was meant to train priests in the ‘art’ of exorcism and was organised by the Bishop Thomas Paprocki who is also the chair of the Bishops’ Committee on Canonical Affairs and Church Governance.
Paprocki is of the view that there is an increasing demand for exorcism in the US despite the lack of data on the subject: But when has real evidence had anything to do with what the Catholic church believes or how they decide to act. Out of the 68 million Catholics in the US, only an estimated 6 to 14 are ‘trained exorcists‘ though the church seems determined to rectify this issue and plunge America further back toward the Dark Ages of Europe and the reign of tyranny and fear exerted by the Inquisition. One of those exorcists is the Rev Gary Thomas of Saratoga and the subject of The Rite. (The book by Matt Baglio and forthcoming film starring Sir Anthony Hopkins)
Paprocki’s feeling is seconded by Rev. Thomas. Exorcism is being requested by parishioners who have family they believe to be in need of this ‘service’ yet there is no mention of any clerical recommendation. I am sure these family members are well-meaning but the greatest harm is often caused by the best intentions (Thanks to Terry Goodkind for that one.). The Rev. believes the cause of this demand is an increase in paganism and ‘idolatrous activity’ by Catholics. This is, of course, garbage and garbage of the sort spouted by the likes of Michael Voris. The Church feels threatened by its lack (or loss) of privilege in the developed world and is trying to increase their influence by any means necessary. When you consider that even the president of the National Federation of Priests, Rev. Richard Vega, has not heard of any requests at all. He speculated that immigrant Catholics, who were probably more familiar with the practice, may be making requests. He also reported to the Guardian that it is Canon Law requires every diocese have a trained exorcist. That many do not, he blames on a post Vatican II church. In 2005 Pope John Paul II wrote to all US Bishops instructing them to train an exorcist. Rev Thomas was asked when the initial candidate declined and despite his own reservations that it was not what he had ‘signed up for’, he took the course while in Rome on a sabbatical.
“Some demons are very strong,” he said. “So it needs repeated prayer and fasting and penance.” People breaking up relationships don’t always make a clean break. “The relationship didn’t develop overnight and is not broken overnight.”Paprocki
An exorcism requires discernment to determine whether or not the person ‘brought in’ is really in need of one or if their family just thinks they are. The ritual is not just performed on demand (apparently) but it seems a rather convenient idea that a person may not realise they are possessed and may be subjected to this treatment against their will by the very people with a vested interest in the belief in the practice. The initial discernment is carried out by team including a physician, a clinical psychologist and a psychiatrist who (should all know better) are all practising Catholics. Rev. Thomas claims that only five out of one hundred requests (again gave no real indication of the number of requests) result in an exorcism and that the exorcist is an ‘ultimate sceptic‘ (doubtful) based only on the idea that they do not just assume that all those who ask for the ritual need one. This is NOT a sceptical outlook because they STILL believe in demonic possession despite the lack of evidence in favour of it and they STILL practice an outdated, unnecessary and harmful (extreme stress) practice.
“The person who is possessed may not even realise it. It’s more frequent that someone would bring a person in,”Paprocki.
The bishop Paprocki strongly believes in the need for exorcism and tried to explain possession it in terms of a relationship between a human and a demon having turned sour. He states that it may have gone bad due to the human having realised their error. This idea is highly speculative and even dubious, when accuracy is brought into question. It is absurd, obtuse and fatuous to contrast an imagined demonic possession (based entirely on superstition and ill-conceived dogma) to real human relationships. Paprocki is a fool to believe this rubbish and a dangerous fool to be promoting the practice and spreading his belief. The Rev. Thomas says that he has performed 40 exorcisms over five years on five people. Two gave up the ‘project’ due to time constraints.
When asked what was involved after the discernment, Thomas told The Guardian that it consists of a set of prayers meant to break up the relationship between the possessed and the demon (so a fake problem is solved with a fake cure. It sounds about right for the church) in order to force the demon out. Even Thomas won’t call the work rewarding, and is reluctant to even go so far as to call it meaningful, he calls the work arduous and time-consuming with little chance of success. Never thought that it’s because none of it is real and you have based at least the last 15 years on lies and half-truths, good Reverend?
The demand for exorcism – as seen in Hollywood films such as The Exorcism of Emily Rose – is growing in the US. Photograph: ScreenGem/Everett / Rex Features
Both the Bishop and the priest have found themselves having to reassure people regarding the nature and risks of possession; correcting mythology with more mythology to the people who have already been misled into believing Christianity at all.
“Possession is not an involuntary thing. It’s not contagious. The person themselves has to open the door,” Paprocki said. To those who come to Thomas asking, “‘How do I protect myself from being inhabited by a demon?’ I say if you have a prayer life, if you have a sacrament life, if you have a faith life – you have nothing to fear.”
This is assuming that those brought in (or anyone) believe in either demons or possession. The bishop believes that demons must be invited but are always looking for a way in. 80% of those brought to the Bishop have been sexually abused by a family member or ‘someone else’ and this abuse, the Bishop says, leaves the victim vulnerable to the possession of demons. It just emphasises the church’s tendency to externalise blame, hold the victim responsible for the actions of others, and typical of this barbaric and outdated religion of ridiculous superstition.
Exorcisms which have made the news are those that have ended in tragedy but were dismissed by the Bishop as having been carried out by untrained amateurs who resorted to beatings drownings and asphyxiation in order to ‘drive the demon out’. Forget the need for training and more of these pointless rituals, there is a need for a worldwide ban on the practice. We only hear about the handful that are even reported but how many tragedies go unmentioned? How many of these people are permanently damaged or injured by this practice? We don’t hear about them for the same reason we didn’t hear of the widespread (and current) practice of protecting paedophiles for so long: the church do not regard themselves as subject to the man-made laws or morals that contradict their own idiotic philosophy. It is in the interest of public safety that the practice is halted entirely rather than escalated. When you consider that there are some who regard the ritual to be dangerous to the exorcist but the danger was also dismissed by the Bishop (who has never performed one) who put the deaths down to the ignorance of the untrained. He added that the ‘unofficial’ exorcism were merely ‘ineffective’ and that “Jesus is more powerful than the Devil”. Not the first to close their eyes and mind to reality but his influence on this subject makes him dangerous.
The Bishop’s dismissal make little impact on the Reverend who believes that the danger to exorcists is very real. They can be attacked emotionally, physically and psychological but added that he had never experienced a physical attack (I wonder why? duh) but his celibacy is often attacked. Often? 8 a year for 5 years is often? Heaven for bid he ever quit the church and get a real church: the shock would probably induce a stroke. Paprocki and Thomas both refer to demons and devils in the plural and the singular but the Bishop seems proud (isn’t pride a sin?) to admit this as if he was showing off some expertise on the matter.
“I use those interchangeably,” Paprocki said. “Sometimes a person can be possessed by more than one devil.”
According to these paranoid papists, a demon is a spiritual being who has rejected God and is being punished eternally for that ‘crime’ and the trick to a successful ritual is to learn the demon/devil’s real name while remaining aware that the Devil is the Prince of lies. That simple huh? The knowledge of this grants the exorcist power over the demon and the ability to banish it. They have both noted that this cannot be done in one session so one wonders how much the church charges for their time. It also begs the question of why the exorcist would believe a word spoken by/through the possessed? The rarity of exorcism is, claims Paprocki, due to the rarity of real possession (no shit, Sherlock moment?). The Bishop went on to say that the Devil’s ‘real’ game is temptation (aside from his earlier claim that demons are always looking for a way in) so it is a mistake to assume that the only danger lies in possession. The devil is no more real than God, Jesus or any other mythology for that matter and it is foolish to fear mere characters in stories.
The national congress comes as part of a policy by Poland’s Catholic Church to lift the veil on what was once a secretive practice Photo: CORBIS
Clearly these men (and those who follow his promotion of exorcism) are deranged and should be removed from positions where they can influence the ideas and actions of others (and possibly placed in psychiatric institutions?) so they can do no further harm. Regardless of the improbability of their claims and ideas, people DO listen to these men and change their minds according to what their local clergy tell them to think so these insane and parasitical ideas of demons, devils and possession are being spread and have more than merely the potential to cause very real and lasting (if not permanent) harm.