Credo of the Catholic Laity and the Catholic Union of Missouri were pleased to welcome Bishop Thomas John Paprocki of Springfield, Illinois the evening of Sunday 20th at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Clayton for the annual Christ the King Dinner and Frederick Philip Kenkel Memorial Lecture. With over 150 in attendance, the forum provided excellent opportunity to see old friends and meet new ones, and learn something.
Both a Canon Lawyer and Civil Lawyer, Bishop Paprocki spoke on the topic of “Exorcism in Law and Practice”, enlightening the attendees on causes, signs and procedures related to this little understood and often sensationalized practice in the Church. The bishop made it clear that although diabolical possession can and does happen, it’s rare, and a process including medical examinations and psychological testing before a priest receives permission from the local bishop to use the exorcism rite. He says that it is usually a family that approaches the Church with concerns about diabolical possession of a loved one and that when someone comes seeking the rite for himself, he’s almost always got a mental problem.
The bishop noted that possession is not “contagious” in the sense that one is “suddenly possessed” but is more along the lines of a relationship between the devil and the person that has grown over time. Exorcism is the breaking of that relationship. He emphasized that the sacraments are far more powerful than the exorcism rite, principally the sacraments of Penance and Communion. “The ordinary work of the Devil is temptation…and the ordinary response is a good spiritual life, observing the sacraments and praying. The Devil doesn’t normally possess someone who is leading a good spiritual life.”
Interest in the subject seems to be growing within the Church and its leadership. In November of last year Bishop Paprocki held a two-day symposium in Baltimore on the rite of exorcism that was attended by more than a hundred bishops and priests from around the country. Following the Baltimore forum, numerous requests for interviews came in from newspapers, television shows and even the BBC. Other dioceses have contacted his office for advice on handling cases where possession is suspected.
His Excellency remained at the podium to take questions and graciously stayed afterwards to meet and talk with the faithful. Saint Joseph Radio was in attendance and the bishop’s full lecture can be had on both CD and DVD.
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