The New York Times ran a piece today about the increased demand for exorcism. Despite there being only a handful of priests who are trained to exorcise demons, the American Catholic Church is holding a conference to discuss plans to bring an exorcist to every neighborhood.
According to Bishop Paprocki, signs of demonic possession include speaking in a funny voice, extraordinary strength, an aversion to Holy water or the name of God, severe sleeplessness, lack of appetite and cutting, biting or scratching the skin. Hmm that all sounds a bit familiar. My accent is considered odd, I am not too keen on Holy water or God worshippers, I haven’t had a good night’s sleep in months, not much appetite at the moment and my skin has been incredibly itching recently. Only thing missing is the extraordinary strength. Maybe I should check myself in for a spiritual check-up.
A person who claims to be possessed must be evaluated by doctors to rule out a mental or physical illness, according to Vatican guidelines issued in 1999, which superseded the previous guidelines, issued in 1614. Much of that was prompted by the killing of a psychiatrically disturbed German girl Annelise Michel during an exorcism in 1976.
Some see this increased interest in exorcism as an attempt to bring the supernatural back to the forefront of the church activities but I wonder if it is a ploy to direct attention away from it’s more recent sordid, sexual activities.