Exorcisms

From Craig Whitlock at MSNBC:

Exorcism — the church rite of expelling evil spirits from tortured souls — is making a comeback in Catholic regions of Europe. Last July, more than 300 practitioners gathered in the Polish city of Czestochowa for the fourth International Congress of Exorcists. About 70 priests serve as trained exorcists in Poland, about double the number of five years ago. An estimated 300 exorcists are active in Italy. Foremost among them: the Rev. Gabriele Amorth, 82, who performs exorcisms daily in Rome and is dean of Europe’s corps of demon-battling priests.

My knowledge of the rite of exorcism is limited to scenes from The Exorcist, which is, I suspect, the norm for this country. Overdramitized, mystical, exotic and even evil / mideaval seem to be the popular conception. This view may be (and probably is) wrong and simplistic, but still, deaths associated with exorcisms are more than troublesome.

But do you know why they’re done at all? It’s because there are populations that believe in exorcism and find relief in the fact of its availability. This is relief that has not come from taking drugs.

Exorcists said they are careful not to treat people suffering from mental illness, and that they regularly consult with psychologists and physicians. At the same time, they said, conventional medical therapy often neglects spiritual ailments. “My remedy is based on spiritual means, which cannot be replaced by any pharmaceutical remedies,” said Trojanowski, the priest who is overseeing plans for the new exorcism center. “I do not stop at the level of just treating symptoms. I’m very much interested in the soul of a person. As a priest, I keep asking questions a doctor will never ask.”

Given the unfortunate fact that people are injured in die in every (bar none) medical procedure, I have to ask if it’s any worse than other treatments. Those on the left, whom I assume have an animus to the idea, should test their opinions by substituting “Shaman” for priest or “juju” for sacrament, and ask themselves how much harm is done. Would those who subject themselves be worse off in the absence?

Those who are Jon Voisey might ask if The Placebo Effect is fully understood, and why it isn’t.

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