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Vatican Approves New Guidelines On Exorcism

The International Association of Exorcists prepared the guidelines to clarify false beliefs about the practice of exorcism.

Exorcism, unlike how it is depicted in the media, is not an obscure practice in darkness but a ministry filled with light, peace, and joy, said a new guide for Catholic exorcists.

The discreet mandate has always shunned the limelight. However, commercial interests and media exploitation of it has lead to sensationalized, spine-chilling, and inaccurate depictions. (Read: Fake news endangers lives more than COVID-19, and each of us can fix it)

“If an untrue image of the exorcist’s ministry has spread among the general public, this is due not to the discretion with which good exorcists proceed, but to the lack of professional honesty in the media,” said Father Francesco Bamonte, president of the Rome-based International Association of Exorcists (AIE).

Photo by KEEM IBARRA on Unsplash

AIE prepared the new book with the approval of the Congregation for Clergy and with contributions from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Congregation for Divine Worship. (Read: Prayers Of The Vatican In Difficult Times)

“When implemented in situations of real diabolical possession and according to the norms established by the Church—inspired by genuine faith and necessary prudence—[exorcism] manifests its salvific, positive character, characterized by a living experience of purity, light and peace,” Fr. Bamonte wrote in the book’s introduction.

“The ‘dominant note,’ we could say, is made up of joy—the fruit of the Holy Spirit promised by Jesus to those who welcome his Word with confidence,” he continued.

The Truth About Exorcism

Dealing with possession is more “run of the mill” than in the 1974 film ‘The Exorcist’ (Photo from Warner Bros / Hoya Productions / Rex / Shutterstock / The Times)

Fr. Bamonte lamented the way media outlets “have not sought the truth in regard to exorcism, but, speaking about something they do not understand, they sensationalized it for ideological or simply economic reasons.” (Read: Pope Francis Writes Spiritual Book About ‘Life After the Pandemic’)

The book has now set guidelines in response to the questions and concerns expressed over the practice of the ministry. It also aims to help exorcists and their assistants share experiences and best practices among themselves.

Guidelines for the Ministry of Exorcism

“Exorcisms and Related Supplications” is the first official English translation of the rite of exorcism and is available only to bishops and others designated by them. The booklet “Prayers Against the Powers of Darkness” contains specific prayers from the translation’s appendix and is being made available to anyone. (Photo from CNS / Crux Now)

Guidelines for the Ministry of Exorcism: In Light of the Current Ritual is a 300-page text that was originally published as a private reference book. It is reserved for “internal use only” by the group’s members.

However, many priests and bishops requested for the text to be made available for the general public. Fr. Bamonte said that by making the text commercially available, it would be a “good catechetical and pastoral tool that would counterbalance the many publications that emphasize the sensationalistic aspects of demonic activity.”

The guidelines, approved by the Vatican dicasteries, is currently available in Italian language. Fr. Bamonte says it will be “at least a year” before the Vatican-approved English version is published. (Read: Prayers for Priests, Bishops, and the Pope)

Exorcism as a Form of Prayer

Photo from iStock / ajr_images / The Catholic Spirit

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, an exorcism is a specific form of prayer in which the church asks publicly and authoritatively in Christ’s name that a person or object be protected against the power of the devil and withdrawn from the devil’s dominion.

In its simplest form, exorcism is performed at the celebration of baptism as part of preparing the candidate for receiving the grace of the sacrament of baptism.

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