HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Concordia University School of Law

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Catholic Church Holds 'How To' Seminar on Exorcism

The Catholic Church is holding a week- long conference to help its priests and bishops learn to distinguish when a person needs psychiatric or other medical care from when a person needs an exorcism. The goal is not necessarily to revive the practice of exorcism but to identify those who need a medical rather than spiritual intervention so that appropriate medical care can be arranged. The NYT reports:  

The rite of exorcism, rendered gory by Hollywood and ridiculed by many modern believers, has largely fallen out of favor in the Roman Catholic Church in the United States.

There are only a handful of priests in the country trained as exorcists, but they say they are overwhelmed with requests from people who fear they are possessed by the Devil.

Now, American bishops are holding a conference on Friday and Saturday to prepare more priests and bishops to respond to the demand. The purpose is not necessarily to revive the practice, the organizers say, but to help Catholic clergy members learn how to distinguish who really needs an exorcism from who really needs a psychiatrist, or perhaps some pastoral care.

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