Prefect for Divine Worship on the New Rite of Exorcism
Prefect for Divine Worship on the New Rite of Exorcism
A Zenit Daily Dispatch
Vatican City, 26 Jan 1999 (ZENIT)
This morning, Cardinal Jorge Medina, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, presented the New Rite for Exorcisms of the Roman Ritual in the Vatican Press Hall. We know there are Catholics who have not received good formation and doubt the existence of the devil, but this is an article of faith and part of the doctrine of the Catholic Church. Whoever says the devil does not exist is no longer a believer. This was the clear and categorical answer of Cardinal Medina, in response to the question of a reporter about the doubts of many Christians on the existence of the devil.
The new text is an outgrowth of the old. There are no substantial changes or break with the previous text. There are changes in language: the new text has more sober language, with less adjectives. Moreover, it gives the priest who practices the rite of exorcism greater liberty–greater flexibility in the choice of prayers to use. In a word, there is a new style, in a language more adapted to our time, but the content is the same, Cardinal Medina said.
The chapter with instructions and the liturgical text of the exorcisms in the Roman Ritual was written in 1614; it was the last one needing revision after Vatican Council II. The current text, which has been approved by the Supreme Pontiff, is published today and placed at the disposition of the pastors and faithful of the Church; it is the fruit of ten years of work and can be used immediately in Latin. Individual Episcopal Conferences will have to translate it into the appropriate national languages. In keeping with Canon Law, however, the translations will have to be submitted for approval by the Congregation for Divine Worship.
Cardinal Medina explained that exorcism begins with the faith of the Church, according to which Satan and evil spirits exist. Their activity is to lure men away from the path of salvation. Catholic doctrine teaches that demons are fallen angels who sinned; spiritual beings of great intelligence and power. But Satan's power is not infinite; he is only a creature, but powerful because a pure spirit. Nevertheless, he cannot impede the building of the Kingdom of God.
Speaking of Satan, Cardinal Medina emphasized that the nefarious influence of the devil and his followers is exercised habitually through deceit, lying and confusion. Just as Jesus is the Truth, the devil is the liar par excellence. From the beginning, lying has always been his favorite strategy. He deceives men by making them believe that happiness is to be found in wealth, power, and carnal concupiscence. He deceives men by persuading them they have no need of God and that they are self-sufficient, without the need of grace and of salvation. He also deceives them by minimizing–worse yet, by making the sense of sin disappear, substituting God's law as the criterion of morality with the customs and conventions of the majority. He persuades children that lying is a good way to solve many problems, and thus, little by little, an atmosphere of distrust and suspicion is created among men. Because of the lies and deceits of the Great Liar, uncertainties and doubts are awakened in a world in which there is no longer any security, or Truth and where, instead, relativism reigns as well as the conviction that liberty consists in doing whatever one wants. There is no understanding that true liberty is found in doing God's Will, the source of good and sole font of happiness.
For these reasons, the whole of human history is characterized by a tremendous struggle against darkness. Man must struggle without letup to remain united to the good. He cannot achieve interior unity without great effort and the help of God's grace, the Cardinal explained. The Church is certain of the final victory of Christ and that is why she is not dragged down by fear and pessimism, but at the same time, she is very aware of the evil one who tries to discourage man and who sows confusion. It is within this framework that exorcisms must be understood, a very important chapter, but not the only one, in the struggle against the evil one.
To the question if exorcism has changed because of the advent of psychoanalysis, Cardinal Medina answered: exorcism is one thing, and psychoanalysis is another. If the exorcist has any doubt about the mental health of the possessed, he should consult an expert. It is not always necessary, but it is prudent to hear what the psychiatrist has to say. It often happens that simple people confuse somatic problems with diabolical influence, but not everything can be attributed to the devil.
In regard to the spread of Satanic sects and occult circles, the Cardinal stated: Satanism is a very old problem, difficult to uproot, because the people who practice it work under cover. The most tragic thing is that the devil is able to deceive man and make him seek happiness exactly where he will never find it.
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