Catholics in and around Madrid concerned that they or their loved ones are suffering from demonic possession may be about to get some much needed assistance from the archdiocese. A spokeswoman confirmed to the Associated Press that the Church in considering training more priests in the exorcism rites to counter increasing demand for its one trained priest’s time.
The spokewoman, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told the AP, “The devil exists. That’s a fact.”
News of the exorcists-in-training was first reported by the Spanish-language Catholic site Religion en libertad, which claims there are eight priests currently in training to learn how to perform exorcisms based on the De Exorcismus et supplicationibus quibusdam, approved by Pope John Paul II in 1998, which replaced the exorcism rites first published in 1614. Catholic World News described the new rite in 1999:
The liturgical ritual itself is centered on supplicatory prayers, asking for God’s help, and “imperative” prayers addressed directly to the Devil, commanding him to depart. The prayers are to be said as the exorcist lays his hand on the individual, and are part of an overall ritual which includes specific blessings and sprinklings with holy water. The ritual also includes the litany of the saints, the reading of the Psalms and the Gospel, and a proclamation of faith which may be either the familiar Creed or a simple question-and-answer (“Do you renounce Satan? I do.”). The ritual concludes with the kissing of the Cross, and the final prayer, proclaiming the triumph of Christ and his Church.
ReL’s Álex Rosal reports that the eight candidates are additionally studying the 1614 rites as well as the so-called Roman Ritual of 1952, which served as a bridge between the older rites and the final liturgical version issued in 1998. Candidates are also said to be reading the books of Father Gabriele Amorth, the Vatican’s chief exorcist and a controversial figure in his own right.
Rosal further reports that there are eight candidates to correspond to each of the eight dioceses, and decisions may be made with the input of local psychiatrists to rule out mental illness and drug abuse before beginning an exorcism.
Spanish website The Local reports that there are only 18 registered exorcists in Spain, the most famous and active of which is, according to exorcism expert and author José María Zavala, Father Salvador Hernández Ramón, who reportedly studied under Amorth in Rome. The training itself is reportedly being led by Bishop Cesar Franco.
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