Demons Or Not?

Depending on whom you ask, you’ll get a different response to a question regarding the state of cooperation with evil in the Catholic hierarchy:

- Some of our fellow Christians would say yea.

- Some Catholics of a similar political bent would say nay. It’s a virtue to obey the hierarchy, especially they agree with us.

- Some stonewalled victims of sexual abuse and institutional cover-up might hesitate before saying one way or the other.

- Some, like the demonology specialist, Father Jose Antonio Fortea Cucurull, say not:

(There are prelates who) are more spiritual and others more earthly, some more virtuous and others more human … from there to affirm that some cardinals are members of Satanic sects is an unacceptable distance.

- Reportedly, the demons themselves give witness:

A second source cited … is the demons who are being exorcised.

I suppose that settles it, especially if we had to waterboard them to get the truth out of their rosy hides.

It’s all in the news because an exorcist, in a high-profile book, suggests that priests, bishops, and cardinals are all suspect.

Father Gabriele Amorth may well believe what his ghostwriter wrote. It may also be that the man needs a long vacation. Or a quiet retirement.

My thinking goes along these lines … Cooperation with evil is bad enough in a believer’s life. Association with evil is a far more subtle danger. But no less real to military personnel, peace officers and others who have a higher rate of suicide, marital break-up, and other psychological problems. Consider as well the tragic numbers of child abusers who were themselves abused as children.

The RCIA has an exorcism prayer for the elect. Three of them, in fact. This weekend, the next, and the next after that. But attend to church teaching on the Lenten scrutinies, of which the exorcisms are a part:

The scrutinies are meant to uncover, then heal all that is weak, defective, or sinful in the hearts of the elect; to bring out, then strengthen all that is upright, strong, and good. (RCIA 141)

From what little I hear, it may be that the exorcists are damaged by their exposure to evil. Do they have balance in their ministry? Do they have the opportunity to work the balance of the other side of sin? When you clean house, you not only vacuum, but polish. When you demolish a building, you throw another structure up in its place. Real ministry, real Gospel is not only about subtraction. You have to build, and building takes time and patience. The problem with these neo-exorcists may be a too narrow, too timid view of the world. No wonder it’s so easy to get the diagnosis wrong.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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