Priests, Medics and Scholars Attend Rome Exorcism Course

Discover Insights into Phenomenology and Satanism

Vatican City, (Zenit.org) Deborah Castellano Lubov | 2454 hits

“Satan has much power and wants to cause a lot of damage to God’s people. However, Christ is risen and is all powerful. Therefore, with Him, we do not need to fear anything from the enemy,” says a priest from Haiti who has experienced, first-hand, those afflicted by demons.

Speaking to ZENIT at an annual Rome course on exorcism this week, Father Louis Wesly Merosne from the Haitian diocese of Anse-a-Veau and Miragoane, said the course has shown him the need for ministers "who are willing to be used by the Lord in the work of exorcism and prayers of liberation.

“We need clarity on how to proceed, so that our tactics can be organized to have the greatest effect against the kingdom of evil,” he said.

The course, entitled "Exorcism and Prayer of Liberation" and held at Rome's Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum, aims to offer priests and lay participants an opportunity to gain valuable tools for their pastoral work. It also tries to provide information and support to families affected by the phenomenon of magic, occultism and Satanism.

Responding to how he felt the course could help priests, Father Merosne said: “First of all, don’t be afraid. You not only have the power of your baptism, but that of your ordination. The devil is deathly afraid of you and only intimidates you to be afraid. So don’t be afraid. Don’t fall for that trick.”

“Secondly,” he stressed, “have recourse to the Blessed Mother. In my experience, praying the rosary with someone or alone, with conviction, can be enough to cast out someone who is inflicted.”  

“Realize we have prayers we can do,” he said. "Faith in the Lord and his power, through the mediation of the Church, is the power that casts out demons whether or not you are an exorcist.”

He also stressed that since every priest has faith, power, and authority over certain souls to help them come closer to Christ, "his prayers should not be underestimated.”

The Doctor's View

“Sometimes there are some happenings or facts that cannot be explained through medical or psychological data. That’s the reason I am here,” a medical doctor who wished to remain anonymous told ZENIT.

“If I look back over the years, I recall several people who partook in seances," he recalled. "Many years went by, and some of them had some real psychotic problems and distorted moral lives” which are even sometimes “extended to their children.”

He said the course helped him, as it “confirmed my feeling that there are some sort of entry portals” to possession.

“In both my medical, and even personal life, I have seen there are triggers which can ‘open the door to something,’” such as traumatic life experiences, like sexual abuse.

He learned on the course that "medical or psychological treatments do not help, they don’t cure." Since medications and psychological support are not sufficient, he said, “it is clear spiritual support is needed.”

Carlo Climati, an expert on the phenomenon of youth Satanism, presented phenomenological aspects. He told ZENIT “it is important to realize there often is a misunderstanding” about those who get involved in Satanology. Often the participation is not because they are “bad” and “should be condemned,” but rather it stems from a “mourning,” some sort of suffering “that is in need of being resolved.”

“It is important for us to follow the doctrine and discipline of the Catholic Church in all these delicate questions and to act in accordance with Bishops and other Church authorities,” said Father Don Pedro Barrajon, an exorcist and professor of theology at the Regina Apostolorum.

Course Beginnings

Discussing why this conference was needed, he said it was “born after a petition of Catholic priests, who were requested by people of their parishes or communities to practice, in some cases, these rites but felt unprepared.” They wanted to “have a more systematic knowledge of this topic.”

He said the course, offered by Sacerdos Institute of Regina Apostolorum Athenaeum, is a means to give "a grounded and interdisciplinary vision" on what exorcism and the prayer of liberation are in the Catholic Church.

“We wanted to offer a theological vision of what is the theology of angels and demons (that is the subject of my classes), the theology of exorcism and liberation’s prayers,” he said, adding that the course includes discussion of “Satanism, occultism and other cultural phenomena that can induce a stronger action of the devil in people.”

He said the course is designed so experts can delve into pharmacological, medical, psychological and criminological phenomenon, as well as social, legal, biblical, canonical and anthropological aspects.

“We also invited exorcists that can witness about their personal pastoral experience,” Father Barrajon said. For example, Father Francesco Bamonte, exorcist of the diocese of Rome and president of the International Association Exorcists, has spoken on pastoral and spiritual aspects of exorcism.

Father David Salvatore, who spoke on canonical aspects of exorcism, told ZENIT that his goal for the conference was “to make known the laws of the Church, especially the theological dimension, so that exorcists and those who work in this ministry "can always work for the good, for the good of the spirit and for the unity of the Church.”

Discussing efficacy of priests or presbyters, who are not in “total communion with their bishop” or “not in complete obedience with their mother Church,”  he said “I ask myself, what kind of effectiveness can his exorcisms have?”

The conference concludes Saturday with a discussion of the ministry of exorcism and a roundtable discussion.