Monday, October 17, 2005

Old School

Really old school.

First day of school for aspiring Vatican exorcists
By Philip Pullella

ROME (Reuters) - It was the first day of school, so some students were understandably nervous. But then again, they were not taking just any course, but one run by a Vatican university to teach aspiring demonologists and exorcists.

"There is no doubt that the devil is intervening more in the life of man these days," Father Paolo Scarafoni told the students, most of them priests who want to learn how to tackle the demon if they should ever encounter him.

"Not all of you will become exorcists but it is indispensable that every priest knows how to discern between demonic possession and psychological problems," he said.

The four-month course, called "Exorcism and the Prayer of Liberation," is being offered for the second year by Pontifical Regina Apostolorum University on Rome's outskirts.

The about 120 students from around the world will hear lectures on topics such as the pastoral, spiritual, theological, liturgical, medical, legal and criminological aspects of Satanism and demonic possession.

One planned lecture is called: "Problems related to exorcism and correlated issues."

One priest, who asked not to be identified, said he decided to take the course after a "very unsettling experience" while hearing the confession of one young member of his parish.

"Her voice changed, her face was transformed and she started speaking in a language that she did not know," he said. "I've met people who are suffering from this problem and it is not as rare as we might imagine."

So, will he be ready to wrestle with demons of the kind who may have possessed his parishioner in the confessional box?

"If, after this course, my superiors decide that it will be useful for me to become an exorcist, I will do it," he said.

...In 1999, the Vatican updated its ritual for exorcism.

It starts with prayers, a blessing and sprinkling of holy water, the laying on of hands on the possessed, and the making of the sign of the cross.

The formula begins: "I order you, Satan..." It goes on to denounce Satan as "prince of this world" and "enemy of human salvation." It ends: "Go back, Satan."
The power of Satan compels you.

And in Protestantworld, the Rev. Lou Sheldon, head of the Traditional Values Coalition, argues that exorcism is necessary to "release" a person from the homosexual lifestyle.
    I've talked to many psychotherapists who are Christian, and they say once you enter into that lifestyle -- Now, you may have gender identity conflict -- that's the medical-scientific name for homosexuality -- where you're attracted to the same-sex person, but once you enter into the culture, into the music, into the gay bars, into the gay literature, into the gay theater, and all of that kind of -- and gay travel -- once you immerse yourself into that, you have really put yourself into a groove that only a sort of an exorcism can release you from.

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