Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Pope Francis: 'The Exorcist'?

On Pentecost Sunday, there was widespread speculation in the media that Pope Francis had performed an exorcism. This has since been denied by the Vatican who said "The Holy Father did not intend to perform any exorcism. Rather, as he frequently does with the sick and the suffering who come his way, he intended simply pray for a suffering person who had been brought before him."

But the questions remains, 'what did happen?' and 'why did people think it was an exorcism?'

In this video, the Telegraph claims:

"Smiling broadly, the Pope initially shook the man's hand, but the South American pontiff's expression changed dramatically after a priest from the Legionaries of Christ, a conservative order, leaned in close and spoke a few words to him.

With a more serious expression on his face, Francis placed both hands on the man's head for 15 seconds.

The pilgrim, said to be a 43-year old married man from Mexico called Angelo, then convulsed briefly and emitted a long sigh. His body went limp and his mouth dropped open."

This, many commentators claim, to be evidence enough that an exorcism took place. This includes high ranking priests and bishops who claim the Vatican are simply trying to play this down.

The Vatican have been quick to make clear:

"Exorcism is, in the strict sense, the “casting out” of evil spirits. The power to exorcise was conferred by Jesus on the apostles, and it is understood that this power passes to the bishops who are the successors to the apostles, and priests the co-workers. That said, the Church has had – for many hundreds of years, it ought to be added – a very precise ritual of exorcism: there are no evangelical-style tent revival theatrics, but careful, even methodical attention and faithful following of the prescribed prayers, gestures and use of sacramental such as holy water and the crucifix."

For many, the key word in Fr Lombardi's explanation of Sunday is 'did not intend to perform', but maybe he did anyway? Do those who are claiming the Vatican simply want to play this down, believe that it brings the wrong kind of attention to the Church? Is it something that makes people feel uncomfortable? Does this simply give critics of religion and the Church an opportunity to trivialise and find scandal in a man's suffering?

Read more: Telegraph Vatican
To find out more detailed information on the Catholic Church & Exorcisms: Catholic Encyclopedia
BustedHalo Podcast & Interview: Interview with an Exorcist

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