Italian Exorcists Dispel Misconceptions

Evangelization Seen as Main Task

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COLLEVALENZA, Italy, SEPT. 23, 2005 (Zenit.org).- The primary task of the exorcist is to proclaim the Gospel, said a congress of the Association of Italian Exorcists.



"The Exorcist in the New Evangelization" was the theme of the eighth meeting of Italian exorcists held in Collevalenza, in the province of Perugia, attended by 180 members of the association.

In statements to the Italian newspaper Avvenire, Father Giancarlo Gramolazzo, president of the International Association of Exorcists, said: "There is much disinformation today on the role of the exorcist; sadly, the media shows this figure as something other than what he really is."

"With his apostolate," he said, the exorcist "leads to the faith, persons who are possessed, vexed or obsessed by the devil."

"Essentially," said Father Gramolazzo, "the exorcist is a catechist who undertakes a journey of faith with a person, also involving the family. The Gospel also teaches this -- Mark 9:14-29 -- when we read, for example, the case of the possessed child whom Jesus heals by helping the father to have faith."

Father Gramolazzo also warned of the danger of a superstitious faith which "attributes all physical and spiritual troubles to the devil's action."

However, he said, "an aversion to the sacred," or affliction by "unknown illnesses or even symptoms that are difficult to identify," could be possible signs of possession. "Demonic presence must be diagnosed case by case," he said.

Prayer and fasting

The priest also said that "there should be greater dedication to asceticism, prayer and penance. The popular mentality has exaggerated Satan's powers, which are those of an ordinary angel."

"To defend oneself from evil in daily life it is enough to be consistent with the Gospel, not to be afraid to witness to one's faith and to take care of one's relationship with God," he said.

The congress offered talks on the role of the Eucharist, Mary and the saints in the lives and work of exorcists. The priests also dedicated time to prayer and liturgical celebrations.

Monsignor Raffaello Martinelli, of the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, presented the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church as an instrument of evangelization for the exorcist, whose job must first of all be to proclaim Christ.

Benedict XIV, at the end of the general audience Sept. 14, encouraged the participants of the congress "to continue in their important ministry at the service of the Church, supported by the watchful attention of their bishops and the incessant prayer of the Christian community."

A worldwide meeting of exorcists is planned for next year.