Don’t look to movies or popular media for your answer because most movies and mainstream media do not believe in the personification of evil. They don’t believe that Satan as a fallen angel exists. They are wrong. The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains exorcism as follows: “When the Church asks publicly and authoritatively in the name of Jesus Christ that a person or object be protected against the power of the Evil One and withdrawn from his dominion, it is called exorcism. Jesus performed exorcisms and from him the Church has received the power and office of exorcising. In a simple form, exorcism is performed at the celebration of baptism. The solemn exorcism can be performed only by a priest with the permission of the bishop. The priest must proceed with prudence, strictly observing the rules and prayers established by the Church.” (CCC 1673) The Church holds true that exorcism is directed at the expulsion of demons through the spiritual authority which Jesus entrusted to his Church. It is important for the Church to make clear distinctions between authentic demonic possession and psychological illness before subjecting a soul to the exorcism rite. Signs of mental illness can easily be mistaken for demonic possession and care must be taken to know the difference. Lastly, the Code of Canon Law states that only qualified priests with the express permission given by their local diocesan bishop may perform exorcisms. “The local ordinary is to give permission only to a presbyter who has piety, knowledge, prudence and integrity of life.” (CIC 1171) Please continue to pray for the work of priests, especially our diocesan exorcist that the power of Jesus Christ may drive evil from our world once and for all.
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