Gallagher says he has seen exorcisms work in scores of cases. But the church has only anecdotal evidence of the rite’s effectiveness. While it has tried to put responsible limits on the use of exorcism, it has never publicly studied how often it’s performed, where, and by whom.
In previous eras, even suggesting a scientific study of exorcism would get you laughed out of the room. But a growing number of psychiatrists such as Lewis-Fernandez profess willingness to incorporate religious beliefs into medical treatment. Mental health experts might someday be tapped by the church to empirically study exorcism’s capacity to heal.
Cuneo, the sociologist, has argued that the recent interest in exorcism is part of America’s quick-fix, pop-psychology, pass-the-blame, no-pain-please culture.
But Frank describes his experiences with exorcism as neither quick nor painless. During each session, he spends an hour and a half screaming and thrashing in a church confessional. His face contorts, his throat growls, his stomach throws up, his body strains to punch a wall.
“At the end, I feel like I’ve been hit by a truck. My voice hurts from screaming like a stuck pig, and I’m drenched in sweat,” he says.
Despite his physical exhaustion, a peaceful sensation pervades Frank after each exorcism.
Then the feeling fades.
Excerpted from U.S. Catholic (June 2011), a monthly magazine published by the Claretians that covers the intersection of the Catholic faith and U.S. cultural and political life. www.uscatholic.org
Have something to say? Send a letter to firstname.lastname@example.org. This article first appeared in the September-October 2011 issue of Utne Reader.
Page: << Previous 1
| 6 |