How was your first exorcism

"Great Exorcism": The Catholic Church and the Controversial Ritual

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Larry Hogan is one of them: Since being commissioned by Cardinal Christoph Schönborn to perform the "Liberation Service" in February 2010, the US-American has been the official exorcist of the Archdiocese of Vienna Rector of the papal "International Theological Institute" in Trumau - made, explains Hogan der FURCHE; often with the help of a psychiatrist, as press spokesman Michael Prüller assures.

Mentally Ill - Or Obsessed?

In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) included "states of trance and possession" in its diagnostic scheme in 1999 - namely "under pressure from psychiatrists from the third world," as the Innsbruck social psychiatrist Hartmann Hinterhuber knows. A person affected by this "dissociative disorder" often behaves "as if he is being ruled by another personality, a spirit, a deity or a" force "."

Priests like Larry Hogan, on the other hand, assume that evil is actually possible. It is not easy to distinguish this from mental illness. "A strong reaction to holy water is not a sure sign of obsession, and on the other hand, not reacting to it is not proof that someone is not possessed," explains Hogan. Often times, people would scream during deliverance prayer; violence is a little less common If necessary, he would strengthen his team to "eight or more people", but mostly he could help the people who would come to him: "That can mean that they are practicing their beliefs again. It can also mean that they are taking their medication or go to their therapist. "

A strong reaction to holy water is not a sure sign of obsession, on the other hand, not reacting to it is not proof that someone is not possessed.

Hogan is not the only local exorcist (the Greek origin of the word means "conjure up"), but he is the only one known by name. All other "priests in liberation service" are kept secret by their dioceses - to protect them, like it's called. There are five in the Diocese of Linz alone. In St. Pölten there is only one commissioned priest, whereby (as in Linz and Vienna) "the psychological clarification of every case is part of the usual procedure." Larry Hogan also knows of case-by-case commissioning in Salzburg and Klagenfurt. "But de facto every bishop Exorcist. "

Exorcist complained of neglect of the subject

The most colorful expeller of the devil is of course in Rome. The 88-year-old Gabriele Amorth has carried out more than 70,000 exorcisms since being commissioned by Pope John Paul II in 1986. In the face of increasing Satanism, the church would criminally neglect the subject of the devil - and even more so exorcism, he complained in 2000 in his book "Exorcists and Psychiatrists".

Five years later, a course for exorcists was set up at the renowned university "Regina Apostolorum". Today, in the face of a Latin American Pope who speaks of "pubescent progressive thinking" as "the fruit of the demon, the prince of this world", Amorth's findings would be Probably not that gloomy anymore. Some even claim to have observed an exorcism in Francis: The wheelchair user whom he laid hands on on Pentecost Sunday in St. Peter's Square twitched conspicuously. Even the rejection of press spokesman Federico Lombardi could not stop this news .

Exorcism is part of the basic equipment of Christianity: Jesus already freed the demons of Gerasa from his demons - whereupon they drove into a herd of 2,000 poor pigs (Mk 5: 1-20). From early church times until today, exorcism has been an integral part of the baptismal liturgy ("I contradict ..."). Of course, the murderous low point was the magic and witch madness, which the Council of Trent (1545-1565) tried to contain with the "Roman Rituals" of 1614 . The "Great Exorcism" stipulated therein was essentially in force until 1999.

The tragic fall of Klingenberg

The fact that the medieval procedure was finally revised was a late consequence of the incredible case that had occurred in Klingenberg in Lower Franconia. In 1976, three years after the horror film "The Exorcist", the 24-year-old Anneliese Michel died of exhaustion after 76 exorcistic sessions. The daughter of conservative parents who were influenced by Marian piety and suffered from epilepsy did not survive the several months of procedure.

The fate of the young student, which decades later was dealt with in films such as Scott Derrickson's "The Exorcism of Emily Rose" (2005) or Hans-Christian Schmid's "Requiem" (2006), has led to heated discussions. "Just as we today as Orthodox believers' get by 'without witches, so in practice one could also' get by 'without obsession'", wrote Karl Rahner in 1976. The church authorities therefore have "a duty to think about whether the old ritual might not be used of exorcism is simply to be withdrawn from circulation. "

But it shouldn't come to that. It was only decided to revise it: Since 1999, the "Great Exorcism" has been reserved for priests commissioned by the bishop, mandatory collaboration with doctors is prescribed, suggestive questions about the number and names of demons as well as "trial exorcisms", with whose help they used to be forbidden any obsession has been established. Addressing evil directly can now also be omitted.

“Apage, Satanas!” “Soft, Satan!” - A fresco by Giotto in Arezzo, Italy, shows the exorcism by Francis of Assisi. Some also attribute an exorcism to his namesake in the Vatican - although it is officially denied.

In 2005, eight Catholic theologians called for the fact that something like this is still possible - including Ute Leimgruber, a researcher in Nuremberg who was later to publish the book "The Devil. The Power of Evil" (Kevelaer 2010). It forbids "to address devils and demons in a worship service. Only God can address the prayer for deliverance, ”they stated. In addition, this would encourage the misunderstanding that “liberation from evil can be magically enforced through exorcism”. Instead of “great exorcisms”, a “liturgy for the liberation of evil” is needed. Up to now, “suggestion and induction” have been used all too often. In other words: You only have to tell people about their demons long enough to turn them into possessed.

The Graz pastoral psychologist Karl Heinz Ladenhauf knows such a case: "It was about a woman who has devoted her whole life to the service of others for religious reasons. When she was forced out of her job shortly before retirement, she had a problem A massive crisis in life and faith triggered, in the course of which she developed aggression towards God - up to the idea of ​​throwing the host on the ground during communion and stepping on it. A priest then said to her: Only someone who belongs to the devil can think of that is obsessed. "Ultimately, says Ladenhauf, the woman ended up in psychiatry." Good pastoral and therapeutic care might have helped her. "

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