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November 12th, 2010
07:17 PM ET

Catholic clergy confer on exorcism rite

By CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor Eric Marrapodi

A group of Catholic bishops and priests are gathering in Baltimore, Maryland, on Friday and Saturday to examine what Scripture and canon law have to say about exorcism.

Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, Illinois, spoke with CNN during a break in the Friday session to explain why the clergymen are meeting about this titillating, yet rare, rite in the Catholic tradition.

"It's an effort to try and provide some pastoral training for bishops and priests, to try and provide a pastoral response with people who may or may not be having demonic activity," he said. "The reality is there really have not been regular courses, or even a class, on how to do [exorcisms] because it is a rare thing. The work of the devil possessing someone is a rare thing. It's not part of the daily practices of a priest."

According to canon law, the governing structure of the Catholic Church, any priest, because of his ordination, has the power to perform an exorcism, Paprocki said. But, he said, "Canon law states he needs the permission of his bishop before he can perform an exorcism."

And therein lies the reason for the conference.

Bishops and priests have to be sharp on rules of this rarely used rite. Both are gathering in Baltimore for the annual U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. And with so many coming from across the country, it seemed to be a natural fit for the workshop on exorcism.

Paprocki heads the Committee for Canonical Affairs and Church Governance for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and was one of the organizers for the gathering on exorcism.

During the conference, the group will look at what the Bible says, paying careful attention to how Jesus responded to evil spirits or demons in the New Testament. During the Friday morning session, Paprocki said, they examined the Gospel of Mark. He said one of the first things Jesus did in his public ministry was cast out demons, and it was the demons that first identified Jesus as the Messiah in Mark.

Among the speakers is Cardinal Daniel DiNardo from the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston in Texas, who will speak about Jesus confronting evil in the Bible, according to his representative. The attendees will also examine the study of angels and demons. From there, Paprocki said, they will move to the practical ways Catholic clergy should respond to requests for exorcisms.

"We use the principle that we have to exclude all natural explanations before we go to the supernatural explanation," he said. This includes having the person requesting the exorcism see a doctor and a psychologist.

"A lot of people experiencing what they think is possession just aren't taking their medicine," he said. Because of this, he said, priests and bishops need to use a great deal of pastoral discernment. "Is it a mental disease that can be diagnosed, or is it demonic activity, or even is the event both?"

Before becoming the bishop of Springfield in June, Paprocki was chancellor of the Archdiocese of Chicago in Illinois. In that position, he dealt with the administrative side of exorcisms. When a request came into the diocese, his office received them. "I was the first portal to these inquiries," he said.

In his 25-plus years in ministry, he has never seen an exorcism and said demonic possession is rare and extraordinary. In his time processing the administrative requests, he said, "I'm not aware of a formal exorcism while I was there." But he said there has been an increase in requests since he left and the Archdiocese of Chicago has since appointed an exorcist.

"This is an element of our pastoral care for people. If possession is extraordinary and the use of the exorcism is the extraordinary response, then the daily work of the devil is temptation. Very few people are possessed, but everyone gets tempted," he said. The fix for temptation, he said, is not exorcism but rather participation in church resources such as Mass, Communion and confession.

As for the conference, he is not surprised by the attention it has received. "It shouldn't be unusual for us as clergy to be talking about the devil," he said.  "People kind of look at you funny when you talk about it in public." But he said that even while talking about the devil and exorcism may be a small and rare part of the Catholic tradition, "Yes, I believe it's a regular part of our faith."

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Bible • Bishops • Catholic Church • Christianity • Mass • Pastors

soundoff (528 Responses)
  1. Reality

    The "priest/clergy mystic" is dead. It died with the ped-ophilia scandals. Time to "pink slip" all religious "leaders" and replace them with a "DO NO HARM" rule to be followed by all humans.

    November 12, 2010 at 11:06 pm |
    • Efren

      By whose authority?

      November 12, 2010 at 11:11 pm |
    • ortizimo

      Efren...by your mama! Sorry I couldn't help myself.

      November 12, 2010 at 11:16 pm |
    • thorrsman

      @ortizimo
      You could have, you just chose not to.

      November 12, 2010 at 11:26 pm |
  2. Angelica

    21k, what did you want God to do...stick his giant hand down and wring Hitler's neck? Maybe his answer was making sure the allied nations were powerful enough to stop it from getting worse. 6 million could have become 20 million had we not entered that war.

    November 12, 2010 at 11:05 pm |
    • 21k

      are you kidding? the being that created the entire #$% universe couldn't cause a heart attack, maybe a slip on a stone staircase? your god relied on the us congress to approve a declaration of war to stop hitler? face it, it's all a bunch of made-up stuff, and you folks are too afraid to say you made a mistake in believing in it.

      November 12, 2010 at 11:11 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Angelica

      I have to go with 21K on this. Believers always rationalize suffering. They don't want to worship an uncaring or even possibly an evil god.

      But be of good cheer! There is no god, evil or otherwise.

      November 13, 2010 at 9:28 am |
    • Nonimus

      "what did you want God to do...stick his giant hand down and wring Hitler's neck?"

      Yes!
      Is it too much to ask of God to save 6 million people? If so, what chance does a single person have?

      November 15, 2010 at 12:18 pm |
  3. Angelica

    Look around Ortizimo.
    Even if you all you believe in is the Big Bang, that in itself is your God.

    November 12, 2010 at 11:02 pm |
    • ortizimo

      The Big Bang is a theory, just like religion is a theory in itself but more a political tool. At least I can these science theories are based in study and proof of how things work. What is god then? an invisible person who made you and me in his (or her more likely if indeed someone exists) then left us stranded here to fend for ourselves against another being that he created but banished. Sounds to me he made mistakes along the way.

      November 12, 2010 at 11:08 pm |
  4. LiberateUs

    There is a God. Get over it

    November 12, 2010 at 10:56 pm |
    • ortizimo

      How? Where is your proof?

      November 12, 2010 at 11:01 pm |
    • DougieM

      There is no God. Get over it.

      See how much that solved? That's what makes agnostics.

      November 13, 2010 at 5:52 pm |
  5. Angelica

    21k, your argument is stale. It's been done before.
    Newt- You're just trying to stir up truble. Get back to World of Warcraft.

    November 12, 2010 at 10:55 pm |
    • 21k

      it's only stale because you have no logical answer for it.

      November 12, 2010 at 11:00 pm |
  6. ortizimo

    wow, parrot seems to be a genius!

    November 12, 2010 at 10:52 pm |
  7. 21k

    just keep in mind that the loving and all-powerful god you all know and love is the same one that let 6 MILLION of his chosen people be brutally murdered during the Holocaust.

    November 12, 2010 at 10:50 pm |
    • LiberateUs

      Spoken like a true Nazi, @s$hole

      November 12, 2010 at 10:55 pm |
    • 21k

      liberate, is english your second language? where did i state anything that would make you comment as you did? if you want to believe in a "god" that wouldn't save so many of his chosen people, then good luck with that. sounds like you're into abusive relationships.

      November 12, 2010 at 10:59 pm |
    • ortizimo

      Very christian of you to speak this way LiberateUs...I'm sure that in the news we heard about an atheist raping his daugther, or an atheist murdering people just for fun. Never "christians" right?!

      November 12, 2010 at 11:02 pm |
    • This is better

      ass-hole

      November 12, 2010 at 11:10 pm |
    • thorrsman

      @21k
      So you do not understand why the Christian God would act as He does, or why ANY God would act as They do? Why would you EXPECT to understand the mind of a God? You are, at best, a very temporary being trying to fathom the mind of an Eternal.

      November 12, 2010 at 11:29 pm |
    • LG

      A lot of good people stood up and fought to stop that maniac – why? "inspired" maybe

      November 12, 2010 at 11:47 pm |
  8. newt

    Having all knowledge is not a requisite for proof. An argument may be valid and false.
    Oh yeah I almost forgot, there is no god.

    November 12, 2010 at 10:50 pm |
    • Efren

      If you can prove there is no God, then I will believe you.

      November 12, 2010 at 11:09 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Efren

      You said, "If you can prove there is no God, then I will believe you."

      I cannot prove there is no god. I can't prove there is no Santa Claus. I can't prove there is no Easter Bunny. But, would you argue with me, if I said they did not exist? I bet you wouldn't .

      We decide something exists or not, based on the preponderance of the evidence. There is lots of evidence that god does not exist, just as there is lots of evidence for there not being a Santa Claus.

      Your faith – belief in something without proof, keeps your god alive. Thor, Odin, Isis and the other ancient gods are no longer prayed to. No longer believed in. The faith that once animated them, no longer exists. They died of loneliness.

      If I am wrong, and you have proof of your god's existence, please present it. It is your burden. You are claiming a god exists.

      Your brother in Christ!

      November 13, 2010 at 3:23 pm |
    • capnmike

      You can't prove that something doesn't exist, however nobody has ever been able to demonstrate that ANY deity exists. The burden of proof should lie with those who claim the existance of something. Until they can prove the existance of their imaginary fairytale being, I shall continue to believe that it doesn't exist..

      November 13, 2010 at 7:42 pm |
  9. SuRy

    How is this newsworthy? Put it in the church bulletin next to the bake sale info.

    November 12, 2010 at 10:44 pm |
    • MotleyCrue

      You Athiests say you want proof? What proof will do? Do you want God to appear to you? Would you believe then?
      John C. Wright. Mark Shea. Conversiondiary.com. Google these for starters.

      November 13, 2010 at 1:05 pm |
  10. LiberateUs

    Wow! So much hate coming from those who don't fear God. Atheist posts always show their non-faith's true colors. Why do you people even bother posting your BS when it DOESN'T mention anything atheistic at all? Keep spewing hate all you want. We Catholics will still worship even under persecution

    November 12, 2010 at 10:36 pm |
    • Sum Dude

      You need prosecution, not persecution – yet any criminal might say they are being persecuted as they seek to avoid accountability. Or are you innocent of any wrongdoing? Is it possible?

      November 12, 2010 at 11:42 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @LiberateUs

      As an atheist, I do not hate god. I simply do not find any evidence that a god exists.

      I do not like what is done in the name of this non-existent god.

      I do not like how believers find a miracle in one person surviving a catastrophe, while others die.

      I do not like how believers give god a pass on all the suffering/evil in the world.

      The Catholic stand on birth control and the use of condoms, is killing people and multiplying their suffering.

      Catholic Priests are attacking children and the Church is shielding them from prosecution.

      At the very least, the Church could have placed these priests in a monastery. Instead, they sent them to other parishes, without even a warning. You don't find this immoral? What would Jesus do?

      You asked: "Why do you people even bother posting your BS when it DOESN'T mention anything atheistic at all?"

      You can challenge anything I have posted. Present an argument that your god exists. I promise to respond.

      Defend your churches actions on birth control – especially condom use. I promise to respond.

      Defend your churches actions, on the hiding out of Priests who attack children. I promise to respond.

      I proclaim your god is a figment of man's imagination. Prayers are not answered. Souls do not exist. Jesus predicted he would be back in the 1st Century. He is late. Being dead causes a person to slow down.

      Your Brother in Christ – Cheers!

      November 13, 2010 at 9:09 am |
    • DougieM

      How is it that a member of the world's largest religion is "Persecuted"? That sort of thing just makes me laugh...

      November 13, 2010 at 5:48 pm |
    • LiberateUs

      Reading these comments only makes me resent ever being born in this country. This land was fine, until the Puritans began slaughtering Catholics,Quakers, and Native Americans on a daily basis 300+ years ago. Surely you people could understand our rage?

      November 13, 2010 at 7:08 pm |
  11. B

    Disbelievers, take heart. Despite your disposition, you may attend an exorcism. Contact your local diocese, explain you would like to attend. Be respectful and admit you aren't a believer but simply want to witness such an event. You will be under no obligation to reveal what you experienced.

    Attending such an event does not imply you have any shred of belief or doubt about your disbelief. As a good citizen, you may wish to simply record and share your experience. Do it.

    November 12, 2010 at 10:35 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @B

      You Said:

      "Disbelievers, take heart. Despite your disposition, you may attend an exorcism. Contact your local diocese, explain you would like to attend. Be respectful and admit you aren't a believer but simply want to witness such an event. You will be under no obligation to reveal what you experienced.
      Attending such an event does not imply you have any shred of belief or doubt about your disbelief. As a good citizen, you may wish to simply record and share your experience. Do it."

      Well, I'm in... Great idea... I will get in touch with the local diocese as soon as my schedule permits, and ask if I can 'attend' an actual exorcism. 😯

      @B, have 'you' 'attended' an actual exorcism...? If so, what was it like...?

      November 13, 2010 at 2:18 am |
    • David Johnson

      And for you parents, we will happily provide child care for you, while you enjoy the exorcism!

      Let's see where the real demons reside!

      Happy Trails my little believers!

      November 13, 2010 at 8:50 am |
  12. Angelica

    And also, it's kind of sad that anytime the word Catholic appears in a news article, everyone jumps on the pedophile bandwagon. You know, that ALSO happens a lot in Protestant organizations as well. Remember that pastor scandal a few weeks ago? 99.9% of Catholic priests are good, decent men of God just like 99.9% of Protestant pastors are. Saying all priests are pedophiles is like saying all big meteors his the earth...when in reality, it happens rarely.

    November 12, 2010 at 10:34 pm |
    • LiberateUs

      Thank you for this post. It's not easy living in a society where we are constantly attacked

      November 12, 2010 at 10:39 pm |
    • Know What

      Angelica,

      No, the percentage of Catholic priests who are/were child molesters is closer to 4% (that is just in the U.S., using figures from 1950 to 2002). I don't know of anyone who has said that they *all* are, however.

      Knowing the ways of the brotherhood of the clergy, I can fairly confidently say that many, many of the *decent* priests knew about or suspected the offending ones and said nothing; not to mention the bishops and other hierarchy who knew for sure and covered it up.

      November 12, 2010 at 11:05 pm |
    • Sum Dude

      @Angelica

      The Catholic Church is unique in that it has established pedophilia within the doctrine, rules, decrees, etc. of the Church itself. Known for centuries, a great many "traditions" and "internal processes" actually support and encourage pedophilia.

      Pedophilia within the Catholic Church is a rare case of "instltutionalized" pedophilia. Very rare. Very Catholic. Very Papist.

      The Catholic Church must be cleansed from the world. Evil is too deeply embedded in the very teachings of that Church.
      They should be tied to a giant millstone and cast into the sea.
      God supposedly said so.
      They know it, too.
      Disgusting. I have only the deepest loathing for the Catholic Church. No other religious instltution is quite like it in terms of hypocrisy, crime, evil, twisted doctrine, and love of money. The CC is unique – and not in a good way, either.
      If anyone was sure to burn in Hell, it would be the Pope and those like him. But Hell cannot exist, so we must bring those criminals to justice using international law and the criminal laws of every country where CC crimes were committed.

      November 12, 2010 at 11:38 pm |
    • Bradleyfor

      @sumdude

      How the hell is pedophilia embedded in the Catholic Church? It is the Church that Jesus founded.

      November 13, 2010 at 1:00 am |
    • Sum Dude

      @Bradleyfor

      Jesus didn't found the Catholic Church, Paul did long after Jesus' death. Paul was not even Peter, whom Jesus supposedly told to "feed my sheep", etc.
      Nah, you can't prove Jesus started the Catholic Church. Sorry.

      November 13, 2010 at 2:01 am |
    • David Johnson

      @Bradleyfor

      You should listen to Sum Dude. He is right on all counts. Pauline Christianity is what most of Christianity believe in.

      November 13, 2010 at 8:13 am |
    • Daniel

      The real scandal is not so much that there were and are abusive priests, so much as the policy the Church had of shielding them from prosecution, concealing their wrongdoing, and denying it had occurred. It is that the Church, which ought to be the shepherds of the faithful – their protectors – instead withheld that pastoral care, instead lavishing it upon these "wolves in sheep's clothing" in order to preserve the dignity of the Church above the wellbeing of its believers that was and is the scandal which has never been adequately addressed, because the Church is fundamentally incapable of admitting error.

      November 13, 2010 at 6:46 pm |
    • Jim

      I think 99.9% is an overestimate.

      November 14, 2010 at 12:49 am |
    • Nonimus

      @Sum Dude,
      I would agree that the CC is unique in that it had inst.itutionalized the cover up of fairly disturbing crimes, but I would have to ask what you base "established pedophilia within the doctrine" on.
      Likewise, "Known for centuries, a great many 'traditions' and 'internal processes' actually support and encourage pedophilia."

      November 15, 2010 at 12:09 pm |
    • Sum Dude

      @Nonimus
      Perhaps you are forgetting that in the CC, those "internal processes" are put forth as Holy Writ.
      Unique, like I said. Instltutionalized and built into the doctrine by making EVERYTHING the doctrine and "infallible", yes?

      November 15, 2010 at 10:29 pm |
    • Nonimus

      @Sum Dude,
      I don't like looking like i'm defending the Catholic church but you're distorting the situation, I think. 'Internal processes' such as what was done to move pedophile priests around and cover up abuses are not, as far as I am aware 'put forth as Holy Writ'. Please provide doc.umentation that these procedures were the Holy See's doctrine.
      Also, there are specific rules about "Infallibility." It is not an automatic thing and it is not use that often, like under 10 times, ever.
      Finally, your statement that they "established pedophilia within the doctrine" implies that there are specific rules are pedophilia within the churches official doctrine, I doubt that is the case. But if you have evidence, please present it.

      The abuses committed by priests are horrible and should be prosecuted. Priests should be jailed and the church should be held to account, even unto destruction of the church.
      However, what you are stating implies that every Catholic is implicated by doctrinal belief, which I think is incorrect.

      November 16, 2010 at 3:19 pm |
    • Nonimus

      "specific rules are"
      should be: "specific rules around"

      November 16, 2010 at 3:25 pm |
  13. Reality

    Religion is not necessary evil. Unfortunately it has been taken over by profiteers using mystical communications with God/Allah/Abraham/Smith et al to convince the "pew peasants" to monetarily support the profiteers' viewpoints. Take away the "bishops/exorcists/prophets/prophecies/fortune tellers", the "pretty wingie talking thingies", the satans aka "demons of the demented" and basically what you have left are the Twelve Commandments (eight if you are an atheist), nothing more and nothing less. These Commandments were first formulated by the ancient Egyptians, Cynics and Babylonians using reasoning and common sense. They are the only necessary keys to the spirit state of Heaven (if there is one).

    November 12, 2010 at 10:29 pm |
    • Efren

      You must be another god from another planet who tends to know everything.

      November 12, 2010 at 11:06 pm |
    • Dario

      Awesome. I was having a discussion with my future wife about weather to baptize our children (if we decide to have some), Me being an atheist and her being raised Catholic, but starting to doubt a lot of things she was told, by using common sense/reasoning.
      Anyways, the point is: Why on earth would you impose your beliefs onto a baby? When he will be old enough to think and elaborate for himself, he will make the conscious decision to either embrace or disregard religion.
      If someone is not old enough to drive a car, drink alcohol, or be mature enough to make the right choices in life, then how could he make a choice about what to believe in? He couldn't. And that's what many are not grasping. Of course if you brainwash someone into believing what you believe since he is too little to understand/dispute anything he/she is told, than he/she will grow believing what you feed them. But is that right? I don't think so. Jesus was baptized in his 30's...
      Probably someone who grows up free of indoctrination will be atheist. But at least it will be out of freedom and respect. And not an imposition. I was raised Catholic. Baptized, communion, the whole nine yards... You can imaging, being born and raised in Rome. I was traumatized by stories of Devil, Hell, Damnation, and I was shown a movie in elementary school that terrified me. I spent most part of my childhood, being scared, or feeling guilty for things that were completely normal. Now that I am old enough, I consider this abuse. In retrospect, I would have rather have the option to grow up free of all these bad feelings, and allowed to make my choice when I would be old enough. I will make sure, I won;t make the same mistake with my Kids...
      Just my 0.2 cents... please forgive any errors in syntax or form. I'm Italian, and English is not my first language.

      November 12, 2010 at 11:34 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Dario

      You are a wise man, Dario. I also allowed my daughter to grow up without indoctrination.

      I am proud to say, she has embraced atheism. She has always been a bright girl.

      November 13, 2010 at 8:07 am |
    • Jason B.

      @ Reality – I think you're right, religion can be a good thing, but too often it's taken over by those wanting greed or power. In some churches if you don't give your 10% you're frowned upon. And look at the mega-churches springing up. Do you think Jesus would approve of worship in such a grandiose setting? I don't...I think he'd want something more humble. Spend the money helping others, not on giant "show-off" churches with preachers wearing expensive suits and driving BMWs.

      As for atheism, I think of something I heard Bill O'Reilley (sp?) say a while back. I don't agree with much of what he says, but this item made sense and has stuck with me. Even if you don't believe in God or that Jesus was the Messiah, at the very least Jesus was a human philosopher teaching us a good way of living. Be modest, be humble, help others and take care of each other.

      November 13, 2010 at 3:52 pm |
  14. AnhTuan

    They took the scripture too literally. It was a demonstration how a sinner is of the devil if he doesn't have Christ and it is only Christ that can remove that bondage of sin and and bring salvation to a man by giving him a new soul. It was also a demonstration of what happen in the end time where children of devil will be cast into hell (swine jump into the sea). Check out familyradio . com

    November 12, 2010 at 10:28 pm |
    • Nestor

      No, actually demons do possess people. They have in the past and still do. Demon possession is especially prevalent in the third world. In America, it is less blatant, but there is also a medical profession that "diagnoses" demon possession as well. This making the scripture conform to our current society garbage needs to stop. Jesus said, "Let your yes be yes, and your no be no." If he said there is such a thing as demon possession, then there is.

      November 13, 2010 at 4:59 pm |
    • sleepytime

      Thanks for the laughs Nestor.

      November 13, 2010 at 7:19 pm |
  15. Kish T

    I am not a Catholic christian ( I am a practicing Hindu) – but still I deeply believe in the power of exorcism – people who die 'before their time' – become restless spirits who tend to disturb certain people – who need exorcism – and there a lot of records in recent American history where people have benefited from exorcism ( but certainly this should not be misused for personal gains).

    November 12, 2010 at 10:28 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Kish T

      Yes, one such spirit is quite famous. His name is Casper. He has 3 mean brothers who are also ghosts. And, If I remember correctly, a little friend Wendy. Wendy, like Christine O'Donnell, was a witch. Wendy didn't get to be a senator either.

      Anyway, thank you for confirming my deep belief in spirits!

      Cheers!

      November 13, 2010 at 8:03 am |
  16. Angelica

    You know, even as a Christian, I'm really getting sick of people using these chat rooms as evangelical launch posts, or as a forum to boast atheism. Jesus probably wouldn't want you to shove him in peoples faces, and society doesn't want you to shove atheism in peoples faces either. Respect each other, come on people.

    November 12, 2010 at 10:23 pm |
    • David

      So know God is a male because you were told this by a male whoe read it is a book that was translated from a book that was written by a male. Talk about social conditioning , it was probably written to help some warlord get his taxes easier and it really has gone on long enough. I say we give this on to Mythbusters to end it once and for all !!

      November 13, 2010 at 12:30 am |
    • Arick

      Way to prove her point David.

      November 13, 2010 at 4:55 pm |
    • Jason

      I'm pretty sure the bible does in fact say Jesus wants you to shove his religion in people's faces... to deny that is to prove that 1) your morality does not come from the bible, and 2) you believe that the bible is imperfect, therefore 3) the bible was not written by a perfect being, therefore 4) all information in the bible is suspect, therefore 5) the bible should be discarded.

      November 13, 2010 at 6:15 pm |
    • Chuck

      Some ideas deserve respect. Some ideas deserve derision. "Faith" is just "wishful thinking's" less attractive step sister.

      November 14, 2010 at 3:19 pm |
  17. dave c

    Not everyone agrees on god and the devil but surely we all agree on the existence of good and evil. Child molestors posing as men of god would certainly fall into the evil category.

    November 12, 2010 at 10:20 pm |
    • Efren

      Christ has emphasized that He came for the lost and not for those who were not. If you think someone is perfect in this world, then you must be high in heaven.

      November 12, 2010 at 11:04 pm |
    • Sum Dude

      @Efren
      Are you seriously defending child molesters? Seriously?

      November 12, 2010 at 11:24 pm |
    • tony

      I certainly don't believe that good and evil somehow have an abstract existence. Is a tidal wave after an earthquake that destroys many coastal villages full of innocents, something evil? All mankind has consciences that range from indifferent to incredibly caring of others. So what they do in the gray area between good or bad, is seen by everyone differently. One man's terrorist is another man's freedom-fighter.

      November 12, 2010 at 11:45 pm |
    • David

      Good and evil? A child molestor is not evil they simply lack whatever it is that makes a adult instinctively shield a child from harm. People have always wanted to pass the buck onto another person, another town , another country or another planet. You do it , you own it , period !!! God and demons and unicorns and fairies aren't there you self serving twit. If you always go by what is right and decent and what you know to be morally right and help a few less fortunate along the way , you have done the work of this God you keep speaking of and continously use as a scapegoat for everything that you are to lazy to correctly think about. Your God would not kill a 2 month old baies because of mysterious ways or a plan. Stop saying it is in God's hands because you are to much of a basket case to do anything yourself.

      November 13, 2010 at 12:25 am |
    • ?//

      There is no good and evil we create them to attempt and oversimplify motivations that are contrary to are beliefs and or emotions.

      November 13, 2010 at 5:19 pm |
  18. JT

    Haven't they had over 1000 years to study and decide what the bible had to say about all this or does it now require a re-interpretation?

    November 12, 2010 at 10:17 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @JT

      Exorcism is a crowd pleaser. It takes the publics mind of the fact the Catholic Priests attack children.

      November 13, 2010 at 7:35 am |
    • Jason B.

      Eh...the Church is just now apologizing for wrongs from 800 years ago...so yeah, they're a bit behind on getting anything done. I figure they'll get to silly things like equal rights about the year 2850 or so.

      November 13, 2010 at 3:38 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @Jason B.

      Most Excellent...!!!

      Peace...

      November 13, 2010 at 4:58 pm |
  19. PARROT

    IF YOU DON'T BELIEVE IN EXORCISM, THEN YOU DON'T BELIEVE IN THE RESURRECTION. IN JESUS AND IN GOD...YOU MUST BE AN ATHEIST !!

    November 12, 2010 at 10:16 pm |
    • sheetiron

      An Atheist is the strict definition of the word cannot exist. However I wont go into detail seeing how it would just be a copy/paste of my previous comment listed above.

      November 12, 2010 at 10:18 pm |
    • JT

      An atheist cannot exist?! How do you figure?

      November 12, 2010 at 10:21 pm |
    • sheetiron

      An Atheist in the strict since of the word cannot exist. To accurately make the statement, "there is no god" one would have to have All Knowledge. We only know a fraction of the universe. It is possible that there is emperical evidence that a god exists. Until one has All Knowledge thus being able to prove for certain that such hypothetical evidence does indeed not exist, one can only accurately make the statement, "Based on the knowledge we currently have, I personally believe that the evidence for a god is lacking, although that can change in the future.

      November 12, 2010 at 10:30 pm |
    • SteveR

      Are parrottinsane who won't turn off he caps lock..you are nuts

      November 12, 2010 at 10:47 pm |
    • Jay H

      So, according to you, someone who does not believe in the tooth fairy does not exist because they don't have all knowledge.

      November 12, 2010 at 11:12 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @sheetiron

      You Said: "An Atheist in the strict since of the word cannot exist. To accurately make the statement, "there is no god" one would have to have All Knowledge. We only know a fraction of the universe. It is possible that there is emperical evidence that a god exists. Until one has All Knowledge thus being able to prove for certain that such hypothetical evidence does indeed not exist, one can only accurately make the statement, "Based on the knowledge we currently have, I personally believe that the evidence for a god is lacking, although that can change in the future."

      And using your same logic, it would be equally valid to say we must be all 'agnostic' in that 'no one' 'really' knows for sure one way or the other. That is why someone who believes that "there 'is' a god".... can only state: "Based on the knowledge we currently have, you personally believe that the evidence for a god is sufficient, although that can change in the future." Which would mean or equal... I don't know for sure, this is 'just' my belief.

      It still comes down to 'beliefs' which again, do *not* = facts. Especially when we are talking about the existence or non-existence of a god.

      Peace...

      November 13, 2010 at 2:02 am |
    • David Johnson

      @PARROT

      You said, "IF YOU DON'T BELIEVE IN EXORCISM, THEN YOU DON'T BELIEVE IN THE RESURRECTION. IN JESUS AND IN GOD...YOU MUST BE AN ATHEIST !!"

      I think Jesus, if he existed, is dead. Dead for 2000+ years. Yes, I am an atheist!

      Cheers!

      November 13, 2010 at 7:33 am |
    • mc

      What if you don't believe in the caps lock key?

      And hey, disbeleiving the whacked out stuff in one particular religion could just as well mean you're an agnostic, a realsit, or simply... intelligent.

      November 13, 2010 at 4:09 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @PARROT

      You Said:

      "IF YOU DON'T BELIEVE IN EXORCISM, THEN YOU DON'T BELIEVE IN THE RESURRECTION. IN JESUS AND IN GOD...YOU MUST BE AN ATHEIST !!"

      ME-- O.K....? What is your point, besides 'screaming' at us using the 'caps' lock key...?

      Peace...

      November 13, 2010 at 4:36 pm |
    • Thomas in Vancouver

      If by "Atheist" you mean "Someone possessing enough common sense to realize that the idea of an all-powerful creator is the evolution of fairy tales that started with cavemen being frightened of the sun and then moved on to the Roman and Greek pantheons and finally developed into the Abrahamic religions, including modern Christianity"...then yes.

      November 13, 2010 at 7:10 pm |
    • Jacque Rouge

      @ Parrot...

      That your name is "Parrot", is BEYOND ironic.

      November 13, 2010 at 7:54 pm |
    • william

      An Atheist cannot exist? I don't believe it.

      November 13, 2010 at 9:01 pm |
    • Colin in Florida

      sheetiron, you said atheist cannot exist, based on your definition. I submit that your definition is incorrect. My dictionary says that an atheist is "the theory or belief that God does not exist".

      You cannot simply makeup definitions to prove a point.

      Of course, religions make up stories all the time: The story of Jesus, the story of Jonah and the whale, Noah and the Ark, Jack and the Bean stalk-all equally good fairy tales.

      November 13, 2010 at 9:55 pm |
    • ArdDruid

      I don't believe in Parrot

      November 13, 2010 at 11:51 pm |
    • braco

      and?

      it is way much better than being a lunatic walking around believing anything other lunatics say about flying invisible invented goodfornothing "gods"? believing on a stupid book written by cons and lunatics? come on..grow up.

      November 14, 2010 at 3:05 am |
  20. speekers

    If you believe in that stuff, it doesn't take a priest to perform an excorism. Anybody can do it. Why they have to dress all this up in ordinations and rituals is beyond me. Oh wait, anybody can pray to God or Gods or whatever floats your boat.

    November 12, 2010 at 9:59 pm |
    • Deedee

      Its history, tradition, experience and skill. that's all it is.

      November 13, 2010 at 12:34 am |
    • David Johnson

      Dressing up in fancy outfits impresses the faithful. Scares the hell out of the demons. Didn't Jesus tell his disciples to dress in odd clothing?

      November 13, 2010 at 7:29 am |
    • inhisname

      Your comparison of belief in the tooth fairy, to belief in God lacks a serious approach to the subject. 99.9999% of adults don't believe in the tooth fairy, yet the vast majority believe in God. I won't insult you by explaining why. The athiest simply can't be certain that there is no God...that's the point being made.

      November 13, 2010 at 4:04 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @inhisname

      You Said:-- " The athiest simply can't be certain that there is no God...that's the point being made."

      And... the 'believer' simply can't be certain that there *is* a God. You have absolutely no 'irrefutable' proof. That is why it is called a 'belief' that you have.

      Beliefs do not = *facts* in the area of God.

      Peace...

      November 13, 2010 at 4:33 pm |
    • Jezis

      Leave it to the catholics to dole out this nonsense. Miracles, demons, spirits, possessed... Go back to goat-herding.

      November 13, 2010 at 4:38 pm |
    • AGeek

      @DeeDee: "Its history, tradition, experience and skill. that's all it is." History, ok. Tradition, I'd buy that. Experience and skill? Uhmmmmmmmm... I assume you mean thespian experience and acting skill.

      November 13, 2010 at 4:54 pm |
    • In Man I Trust

      Come on folks, there are hundreds of mental disorders, why would any intelligent adult come to the conclusion that magic monsters are the problem. Grow up, your taking this little fantasy game too far.

      November 13, 2010 at 6:09 pm |
    • Andrew

      You weren't paying attention. In the Gospel of Mark Jesus cast out the demons, NOT one of the apostles. Your average joe can not just walk-in, give the sign of the Cross and say "THE POWER OF CHRIST COMPELS YOU!" A hopeless aetheist such as you and everybody else just refuse to look into the intricacies of the Catholic Church. And yes, aetheists are hopeless.

      November 13, 2010 at 6:28 pm |
    • sleepytime

      Andrew: It's spelled "atheist" not "aetheist". If you're going to bash a group of people please at least learn how to spell their name.

      November 13, 2010 at 7:10 pm |
    • kathy

      Maybe it would be a good idea to have a Bishop perform an Exorcism on all of the pedophile Priests. There's plenty of serious evil going on there!! They're suppose to be God like! Well you could have fooled me!

      November 13, 2010 at 7:28 pm |
    • william

      Wonder if they can exorcise the entire Republican Party?

      November 13, 2010 at 8:59 pm |
    • biggy

      Catholics should worry more about pedophile priests and permitting birth control pills, and allowing priests to marry so they might have a feint idea of what goes on in the real world.

      November 13, 2010 at 9:07 pm |
    • Woody

      This whole story is incredible. It’s the 21st century and we have adult, seemingly intelligent, educated people attending a conference discussing demonic possession. This sounds like a story from the 15th century. I think that anyone who’s less than totally insane would be more than a little embarrassed to admit to attending such an event. Now that I think about it, they have to keep the Devil story up and running. Without the ultimate bad guy, the entire Hell story, with the threat of eternal damnation, would fall apart. Without that threat, the dwindling church attendance (and the corresponding donations) would dwindle further. If believers didn’t have to worry about the Devil and Hell, they wouldn’t have much use for priests and churches. I guess the whole thing is all about job security.

      November 13, 2010 at 9:26 pm |
    • rickinmo

      I was raised Catholic. Not my choice and a large part of the reason I am Atheist today. To perform a proper exorcism, you need a bottle of wine, good cheese, a rental movie and some popcorn for later because when you finally come to your senses you have something to eat ad drink and something to do. Anyone who believes this BS needs electro-shock or medication.

      As for belief, it has to be the dumbest word in the English language. Belief is accepting as fact something that can't be verified. The problem with the religious is that they frequently reject facts and believe things that are outrageously impossible. I could write a book about the insanity of religion but, I hope I made my point. No sense arguing with people who would defend things like exorcism!

      November 13, 2010 at 10:56 pm |
    • septic

      Training priests to do exorcisms. Yeah but, what if it's the Devil who's doing the training? Just saying...

      November 13, 2010 at 11:12 pm |
    • ieat

      Just because you haven't experienced it, it doesn't mean they don't happen. My mom for one could see ghosts. It used to bother her so much. She tried many "spiritual religions", mostly Asian ones, such as Buddhism, Daoism, etc. And when she became a Christian and asked for that to stop, it did. I know she doesn't have any mental issue if that's what some of you may be thinking. And there is no reason for her to lie about it.

      November 13, 2010 at 11:45 pm |
    • Peace72

      I would like someone here to explain the creation of the soul... atheist or not.

      November 14, 2010 at 1:17 am |
    • Peter Timber

      I once read somewhere:
      "The smartest trick of the devil is to make people believe that he does not exist."

      November 14, 2010 at 4:23 am |
    • NuclearWar

      I suggest some of you skeptics read Hostage to the Devil by Malachy Martin. It might shake up your fine notions about whether Satan exists or not.
      I find athiests pathetic and closed minded. In philosophy we call God a "first cause" . In other words once you get to the big bang theeory ..how do you explain that it happned ? What caused it....? Are you saying that something comes from nothing? In other words you believe in magic. Well, I believe in God and you believe in magic.

      November 14, 2010 at 5:02 am |
    • Know What

      NuclearWar,
      "Well, I believe in God and you believe in magic."

      Actually, you believe in a magical God, which came from nothing...

      Me? I don't know (yet) what the circ-umstances were... and I don't make up things to fill in the gap.

      November 14, 2010 at 5:13 am |
    • juan pujols

      I come from an island where witchcraft is very popular. So it does not surprise me to hear about exorcism. I just dont believe in the witchcraft practices of the locals...and I donot believe the exorcist powers of the priests either. Hog wash and ignorance.

      November 19, 2010 at 10:57 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.