See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. - James 5:7

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Our Fascination With Exorcism and Exorcists.



WARNING!  Video content disturbing and sexually suggestive. 
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Ed. note:  I posted the video because it is a fascinating interpretation of a historical case of possession of an entire convent of Ursuline nuns in France.  The story as we know it is based upon the non-fiction novel The Devils of Loudun, by Aldous Huxley.  The film clip is a bizarre representation of repressed sexuality, religious fervor, exaggerated mystical piety, and the idealization of priests; climaxing in sadistic public exorcisms as well as the bewitched, promiscuous, errant priest burned at the sake.  Somewhat analogous - in an exaggerated sense of course - to what is going on today.  I know many of you will most likely disagree.  I don't mind.
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Authority
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Most of us have a certain awe of exorcism.  That is one reason why movies are made on the subject.  It is also why strict protocols are established for the ritual, only to be conducted with authorization from the local Ordinary.  The local bishop.  As Catholics we hold our priests in great esteem, and exorcists seem to hold a very special fascination for most.  This is understandable since Canon Law states that the priest, chosen by the local Ordinary to perform exorcisms must be a priest 'endowed with piety, knowledge, prudence and integrity of life.' [C. 1172]  Thus we tend to have what appears to be a higher regard for someone we perceive as a holy man, a man of authority and power.  Frequently, it seems many people place more credence in what an exorcist says or writes publicly, about such things as apparitions of the Blessed Virgin or private revelation, than we do in what our bishops teach and caution about the same.  This demonstrates how much power and authority the exorcist can hold over the public imagination.
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Abuse.
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Exorcists are permitted by the local ordinary, therefore the priest does not act on his own initiative.  The ritual is public, although it is conducted in private with witnesses.  To conduct an exorcism without permission, and without witnesses is an abuse.  Therefore, I should think the vulnerable subject can rightly be considered a victim of abuse - even before sexual encounter.  Exorcism is a public rite of the Church - therefore, any abuse becomes a matter of public concern.
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My concern.
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I think I mentioned before that I have a friend whose vulnerable condition and state in life - an obedient novice -  had been taken advantage of by a priest she went to for counsel - this woman is still screwed up.  Like I said, I don't know who the priest is.  She wasn't a candidate for an exorcism, and to my knowledge, he was not an exorcist.  My point is that women seem to be the forgotten victims in abuse situations, and priests seem to be easily excused when it comes to heterosexual misconduct - consensual or not.
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When I think of my friend and her suffering, I get angry.  Prayer helps me through it.
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Please don't demonize the victims or the messengers.

9 comments:

  1. Anonymous12:02 PM

    Since when does an exorcist perform an exorcism without a priest assistant and a team of well-trained lay helpers?

    Veronica

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  2. Terry - just an FYI - you might want to re-embed the film clip without the attached videos.

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  3. Thanks Larry - I fixed it.

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  4. Point well taken, Terry. I wrote what I did in a previous post because of some disturbing behavior I have noticed in a particular person. It's not a good idea to generalize so I did that, I apologize. I think I am caught off-guard a bit by people's reaction to this latest horrible scandal, which concerns me that I am becoming too jaded, so jaded that nothing surprises me. A good friend wrote to me today because she just learned of this terrible scandal and I spent the better part of an hour talking her down. It pains me to see someone distraught. She is angry and unnerved that the evil one "got" the exorcist. A few things I learned by reading Malachi Martin. Perhaps the most important lesson is that the exorcist is never acting on his own authority, but on the authority and power of Jesus Christ. Who knows? Maybe the exorcist lost sight of that. We just don't know. Would God allow so far a fall from grace to instill some humility? I sure don't know.

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  5. Thank you Terry for your sensitivity on this. Earlier today, I actually saw a comment on another site that said something like for all we know, father's lust during the exorcism manifested itself in a voluptuous kiss, everybody was overreacting and numerous allegations don't mean anything.

    The insensitivity to potential victims to make excuses for this situation is chilling.

    Imagine being in your darkest spiritual hour and in the middle of a roman rite have the priest plant a sexually charged kiss on you and on top of the six months of lies and a statement from a priest claiming they weren't sex acts, seeing the ridiculous responses of Catholics in blogosphere.

    It is too much to bear.

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  6. I don't know that it would do me any good to read the sordid details, but I didn't realize the violation took place DURING an exorcism. That's a bit like giving a woman a date-rape drug and then taking advantage of her while she was under the influence. Terrible.

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  7. Thank you, Terry! God bless you.

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  8. Yes, it was during an exorcism. As where the numerous other allegations abuses that took place during an exorcism.

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  9. I wasn't pleased w Fr ___'s letter when he made the one adult woman sound meaningless (that's the way I read it....) and followed that with tons of reprimands against others for their supposed crimes against him. Proud and arrogant is what I read, perhaps that's "judgmental" but that's the way it struck me, not that I matter. :)

    To God, one person is the world!!

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