Saturday, April 05, 2008

Exorcise The Exorcists.

As much as the Roman Catholic Church might accept modern science and its discoveries some irrational beliefs linger. The Archbishop of Ottawa, Terrence Prendergrast, has appointed at least two new exorcists, one English speaking and one French speaking, to replace the previous one who retired five years ago. Supposedly the Ottawa archdiocese doesn't received more than seven or eight calls for exorcism a year, but hey, Pope Benedict, like his predecessor, believes in demonic possession, so they're making sure they're ready. The strength of belief by certain elements of the Catholic Church in demonic possession can been seen in the number of Italian exorcists rising over the past two decades from a mere 20 to some 350 currently.

Jeffrey Grob is the exorcist for the Chicago archdiocese. He states that an exorcist in what he describes as a large, ethnically diverse diocese might get 100 calls a month from those fearing they are possessed. Most who think they're possessed usually aren't, according to Grob. Which of course brings up the obvious question of why the Church doesn't come to the rational conclusion that all those who believe they're possessed aren't, that demons don't exist, and that there is no need for someone who actually practices exorcisms. The highly cynical might argue the tradition of exorcism is maintained to make sure those Catholics who think they are possessed won't go to some other denomination that shares their delusions, and once "cured" move away from the Church. But I have no doubt that most of those behind the continuation of the belief in demonic possession truly believe it is a real problem. Unfortunately the result will be people suffering as treatment that might actually help them is delayed or even avoided entirely because of those involved believing in an irrational cause of their problems, whatever the true motivation of the exorcists.

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