New guide explains hidden ministry of exorcism

One kind of ministry, by its nature but also by Church mandate, shuns the limelight and remains discreet: exorcism.

Aug 15, 2020

By Carol Glatz
One kind of ministry, by its nature but also by Church mandate, shuns the limelight and remains discreet: exorcism.

Unfortunately, commercial interests and media have exploited that vacuum, offering sensationalised, spine-chilling and often inaccurate depictions.

“If an untrue image of the exorcist’s ministry has spread among the general public, this is due not to the discretion with which good exorcists proceed, but to the lack of professional honesty in the media,” said Fr Francesco Bamonte, president of the Rome-based International Association of Exorcists.

Media outlets that “have not sought the truth in regard to exorcism, but, speaking about something they do not understand, have sensationalised it for ideological or economic reasons,” he said in an email response to questions.

Now, a new guide compiled by the international association and approved by the Vatican aims to provide an authoritative, up-to-date and accurate look at the quiet backstage ministry of exorcism.

Fr Bamonte, a member of the Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, said that the association first created the guide as a response to the many questions, concerns and difficulties expressed over the years among its 800 members worldwide.

The aim of the Vatican-approved association is to help exorcists and their assistants share experiences and best practices among themselves. And while exorcists already have official texts to refer to in their ministry, the guidelines are meant to “clarify many obscure and mistaken aspects” about exorcism, he said.

Guidelines for the Ministry of Exorcism, a 300-page text, was originally  published as a private reference book, reserved for “internal use only” by the group’s members.

However, Fr Bamonte said many priests and some bishops had asked that the text be made commercially available to the general public, too. They thought it would be a “good catechetical and pastoral tool that would counterbalance the many publications that emphasise the sensationalistic aspects of demonic activity,” he said.

The association got the green light to make it public from the Vatican dicasteries that approved the text and from Cardinal Angelo de Donatis, papal vicar of Rome, who granted the text’s imprimatur. The guidelines, currently only available in Italian, went on sale in mid-July; it will be “at least a year” before the Vaticanapproved English version is published, Fr Bamonte said. ––CNS

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