A priest wonders why there is a revival of exorcists; Fr. Z rants

Take a look at this, from CWN and then… well… just take a look.

Prominent US priest bemused by exorcism conference

Father Richard Vega, a priest of the Archdiocese of band president of the National Federation of Priests Councils, has told The New York Times [Why am I not surprised to see that publication involved?] that when he heard that the US bishops were offering a conference on exorcism, “My immediate reaction was to say, why?”

The Times reported:

The conference on exorcism comes at a time, he said, when the church is bringing back traditional practices. The Vatican has authorized the revival of the Latin Mass, and now a revised English translation of the liturgy, said to be closer to a direct translation from the Latin, is to be put in use in American parishes next year.

People are talking about, are we taking two steps back?” Father Vega said. [?] “My first reaction when I heard about the exorcism conference was, this is another of those trappings we’ve pulled out of the past.”

But he said that there could eventually be a rising demand for exorcism because of the influx of Hispanic and African Catholics to the United States. People from those cultures, he said, are more attuned to the experience of the supernatural.

I don’t trust Hell’s Bible to report things clearly.  That said, is there is – what – touch of condescension in this?  Sure, it is filtered and passed along.  But, I get a sense that this mean:

“Let those primitives dabble in that sort of thing.  If that does it for them, we’ll have to be accommodating.”

After all, we are so very grown up now.  We know that most of this is based on superstition, or exaggerated devotions and psychological imbalances they produce.  We are people of nuance.

I think we are more in need now of good and holy exorcists than ever because the Enemy is bold, cunning and has succeeded with the help of men who ought to know better in belittling his malicious work to the point where the “devil” is a punchline.

But consider: the enemy has ability of fallen angels.   They have knowledge and patience.  They never sleep.  They are never distracted.  They never forget.  They never flag in their malice.

Priests would do well to think about the four last things before going to bed.  A priest will be judged by the Just Judge as a priest, not as Joe Sixpack.

Then think about what must go through the mind of a soul during those first ten seconds in hell.

They had better think about hell good and hard, because they are going to go to hell if they by negligence prompt people to stop believing in the attacks of the enemy and the possibility of a judgment that could go very badly indeed.  And he would be, in hell, also a priest forever, with particular torments, special pains.

How’s that for something pulled out of the past, padre?

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. priests wife says:

    great rant Father- very SCARY that there are ‘special’ torments for evil priests in hell….but a priest who keeps that in mind will protect his soul

  2. Stu says:

    Seems one should be leery of priest who doesn’t seem to believe in Satan.

  3. TJerome says:

    I hope we are taking 2 steps back, maybe even 3, so we can figure out exactly where along the way we went wrong, these last 40 years.

  4. teaguytom says:

    I wonder if he preaches of Hell or sin? Exorcism is traditional, but it isn’t exactly smells and bells. It is important to our faith in keeping away evil. Maybe Fr Vega would be happier in a reformed community founded by Calvin, Luther or Zwingli that rejects the supernatural in favor of enlightened beliefs in the bible. You know, the same crowd that finds adoration and benediction to be hokey and superstitious. Sorry Fr. Vega, I would rather bless my bed with Holy Water at night and say Prayers to St Michael to banish Satan and his minions. Yes Richard, there IS a Satan.

  5. gio says:

    So this priest doesn’t believe in the supernatural anymore. What’s the point of his being Catholic in the first place, much more being a priest? Teaguytom is right!

  6. Dr. Sebastianna says:

    US Priest’s Training as Exorcist to Be Featured in Movie

  7. MargaretC says:

    I’m prepared to give Fr. Vega the benefit of the doubt — after all, the story appears in Hell’s Bible and we all know what they’re like.
    But the story made me think: Does the Devil really need to resort to possession or obsession here in North America? After all, he’s already convinced thousands of our best and brightest that abortion is a legitimate moral choice.
    So many souls for so little effort…

  8. catholicmidwest says:

    Sounds like Fr. Vega needs an exorcism, or at the very least a full-body-sheep-style dip in holy water. He reeks of modernism.

  9. benedictgal says:

    This reminds me of the line uttered by Professor Van Helsing in the classic 1931 horror film, Dracula. He said that the vampire’s greatest strength is that no one believes in him anymore. I think that the same could be said about Satan. Of course, considering the fact that Fr. Vega comes from the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, it just seems par for the course since that is Mahony’s jurisdiction. I can only hope that Archbishop Gomez will have a few words with Fr. Vega.

  10. Zilla says:

    Many Catholics, including my own father (rest in peace) stopped going to Church when the Church stopped being what they had grown up in. My dad went to Catholic school and could translate Latin to English and back to Latin with ease. He knew all the prayers, he knew and loved every aspect of the traditional Latin Mass and when it was no longer offered, he missed it greatly. I know he was not the only one. I see the Church reclaiming it’s tradition as a very very good thing! It is what many have been yearning for for a very long time.
    There is evil in the world, look around you, there is some serious darkness at work in our country and we desperately need people who have the proper tools to fight it.
    I was relieved to learn that the Catholic Church recognizes this need and is doing something about it.

  11. SonofMonica says:

    Preach it, now!

  12. ipadre says:

    Maybe his mind is clouded by the “smoke of satan” and the smoke can be cleared by and exorcism!

  13. catholicmidwest says:

    Yup, lots of holy water and an industrial sized exhaust fan.

  14. doanli says:

    One reads and hears all the Evil around him, every day, like never before, and he still doubts the existence of Satan, Hell, and the need for exorcists???

  15. Gail F says:

    Surely any thinking person’s first reaction, hearing that there was a conference on exorcism, would be to ask why. A normal question, actually. And I think Fr. Z was right in the first place to say that the NYT does filter everything through its own lens. There is nothing inherently condescending about saying that Hispanic and African people might be “more attuned to the supernatural” even if the NYT took it that way.

  16. Trad Tom says:

    T0 take benedictgal’s reference to more modern film, there is a great line in the movie “The Usual Suspects”…….”The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.” So many people over the last 40-50 years have fallen for it, and that has led to his malevolent presence as we have never seen before. Snarky comments about exorcism? Be careful, Father Vega; be very careful. Pray.

  17. I had not heard of this National Federation of Priests Councils


    What is that? Here is their “About us” page…



  18. Rich says:

    “The greatest trick the devil ever played was to convince the world he didn’t exist.”
    – Verbal, The Usual Suspects

  19. bookworm says:

    Ah, but even Hell’s Bible found some really classic quotes from promoters/supporters of the conference such as this:

    “But to R. Scott Appleby, a professor of American Catholic history at the University of Notre Dame, the bishops’ timing makes perfect sense.

    “What they’re trying to do in restoring exorcisms,” said Dr. Appleby, a longtime observer of the bishops, “is to strengthen and enhance what seems to be lost in the church, which is the sense that the church is not like any other institution. It is supernatural, and the key players in that are the hierarchy and the priests who can be given the faculties of exorcism.

    “It’s a strategy for saying: ‘We are not the Federal Reserve, and we are not the World Council of Churches. We deal with angels and demons.’ ”

  20. Stvsmith2009 says:

    I have to say Father Z, I really DO like it when you rant!

  21. Stu, pray for the priest who doesn’t believe in Satan. He has one foot in the abyss, and the other on a banana peel!

    BTW…when the rubber meets the road, doesn’t every diocese have an exorcist in the person of its bishop?

  22. kallman says:

    be sure to do the five first Saturdays for Our Lady and to wear the brown scapular so that She will assist us in the hour of death by supplication to Her Divine Son for us that we may have the opportunity of final repentance at the hour when Satan will make his final bid for our immortal souls

  23. trentecoastal39 says:

    This Priest who Questions Exorcism is From Los Angeles,California,So We Know Now Where is He Coming From!!!

  24. capchoirgirl says:

    You know, in the Percy Jackson books (for kids and teens), the entrance to Hades is in LA. Maybe the author was on to something.

  25. Toan says:

    Soon enough Fr. Vega will whine that many Catholics — priests, even — have started learning their faith.

    Talk about taking two steps back!

  26. Rob Cartusciello says:

    “The devil has his own contemplatives, as God has his”
    – The Cloud of Unknowing, Chapter 45

  27. Sliwka says:

    I came across this in the loca Catholic paper. It is an article about the USCCBs move to train more exorcists. Although it provides mainly a overview of the issue, and some basics for those who do not know (as it is rare here in North America), it also has a list of signs of authentic possession.

    * Signs of demonic possession might include:
    * Speaking in a language the individual does not know.
    * Scratching, cutting, biting of the skin.
    * Profound display of strength.
    * Sleeplessness.
    * Lack of appetite.
    * Aversion to anything holy, such as mentioning the name of Jesus or Mary, or the act of praying.
    * Strong or violent reaction to holy water.

    Pretty hard to chalk most of these up to psychological disorders.


  28. susanna says:

    The entrance to hell is in LA. I drove by it years ago – stuck on a freeway in hellish heat before all cars had AC, the radio blaring the song “I am the god of hell fire…fire, I beg you to burn”, and in front of us a kid in a station wagon, sticking out his tongue at everyone.

  29. Tina in Ashburn says:

    Diane: I’ve never heard of that group either. Ick, what a way to divert true brotherliness of the priesthood. The quote by Bernardin is interesting. True that priests should fraternally support each other – but the their goal is in twisting the Faith and subversion apparently!

    Ole Sparky works tirelessly for us to believe that power comes from below, where he can tyrannize us. The Church is a monarchy and must remain that way. The laity doesn’t run the Church anymore than a group of priests.

  30. Agnes says:

    “It’s a strategy for saying: ‘We are not the Federal Reserve, and we are not the World Council of Churches. We deal with angels and demons.’ ”

    She deals in Suffering and Sacrifice. She deals in Sacraments and Salvation. Mother Church, the Bride of Christ and image of Mary Immaculate, protects Her children from the evil one through the dispensing of grace, and will carry us through to Heaven.

    I’m very glad to hear more priests are being trained in exorcism. Shepherds are struck, sheep are scattered and many consumed by wolves. To answer Fr. Vega’s question why exorcism? Because we need it. We really, really need it.

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