Interesting Interview with the Priest involved in the Indiana Exorcism

over at the Register.

As a general rule, I tend to avoid stories about demonic possession in the news since the media loves to sensationalize and I’m leery of priests who blow their own horn about this stuff. My general rule of thumb is that the more famous the exorcist, particularly the self-promoting exorcist, the larger the grain of salt I take with his tales and exploits.

So far, this guy appears to be on the level (though I am uneasy about the priest inking a movie deal). He seems like a level-headed enough guy though. Could be that he sees the story as an opportunity for evangelism and, for all I know, plans to give all the $$$ away. So we’ll see. At any rate, the converging lines of testimony from a number of independent witnesses with nothing to gain and lots of reasons to be laughed at by skeptics suggests to me that there is something to this story. Demons do, after all, exist and possession is a real phenomenon. So there’s no particular reason this story can’t be true.

  • Mike

    “So there’s no particular reason this story can’t be true.”, except that it obviously can’t be true because demons obviously don’t exist! ;) .

    • http://brianniemeier.com/ Brian Niemeier

      I see we’ve had two visits from the emoticon illiterate.

  • Stu

    Pray for this priest. It is indeed a big step from just doing your job in this regard to bringing some attention to it so that people can become informed of the battleground that we live in on a daily basis. I would suspect that he will come under greater attack by the Evil One.

    • Fr. RP

      Agreed, pray for the priest…and all priests, because by the very fact that they are priests they are already under great attack. Always has been that way and always will be that way:

      John 15:18-22: “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant [slave] is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you; if they kept my word, they will keep yours also. But all this they will do to you on my account, because they do not know him who sent me.”

  • Matthew

    I read this earlier today, and I was pretty taken with his testimony. Though, I also tend to tread lightly in situations like this. Part of me really wants to believe it, because as you said, Mark, these things do exist. Demons are real and so is possession. However, I’d be lying if I said that some of this didn’t sound like the last demon possession horror film I watched. In due time, I’m sure we’ll find the truth. Regardless, interesting read. God bless that priest.

  • http://brianniemeier.com/ Brian Niemeier

    Whether the family’s troubles were caused by demons or something more mundane, please pray for them. They’ve had a hard time of it to say the least.

  • ThereseZ

    I hope that he signed a movie deal to keep someone else from signing a movie deal and telling his story without his input. this way he can control it a little better?

  • Käthe

    I’m troubled by this priest. He was previously in the news (in the earlier 2000s) objecting to criminal background checks for priests. He apparently was all for it for laity, but not for priests for some reason, even though anyone working with money, information, kids, or the elderly these days has to pass that exact same background screen. The fact that it was just priests he was concerned about, not laity, makes any argument that he’s just a fierce libertarian pretty hollow to my ear. He seems like a potential “loose canon”–let’s take my typo and run with it, here.

    And I remain unconvinced by the particulars of this “possession.” Is evil real? Certainly. But mental illness, mass hysteria (which contrary to the sounds of it doesn’t require anyone to foam at the mouth, just a bunch of people to overreact to the same thing), and publicity-seeking also exist and are far more common. Turning it into a movie would be a tacky move from anyone involved, but the priest? This seems a particularly gross violation of his duty towards those vulnerable persons who he counsels. Good grief, imagine if your epic terrible year of turmoil got turned into a movie deal by your parish priest who helped you through it. How absolutely awful.

    • Imrahil

      I said above about something that I did not feel fishy but… I don’t know. Maybe it was all on the local news, the family treated agreed to a movie or had the idea themselves, and the priest took what he saw a chance. I don’t know. Maybe. But, as Mark Shea, I’m uneasy about it. That part… maybe… feels (I do not write “is”) fishy. But let’s assume the best.

  • Noah Doyle
    • The Deuce

      Yowzers! It’s impressive and scary just how many independent people reported seeing stuff happening, especially the backwards walk up the wall.

      • Käthe

        Google “parkour.”

        • The Deuce

          Oh please. Are you being serious here?

          • Käthe

            When there are simple explanations for a situation that is being attributed to something extraordinary, you don’t have to be a strict materialist to raise an eyebrow. It doesn’t require demons for a kid to do a stunt (while holding onto someone, no less) and it doesn’t require an actual curse for a group of people to essentially psych themselves into feeling creeped out by everything from flickering light fixtures to waterskiing accidents. The actual substance of our faith is something solid, beautiful, and mysterious. This stuff is side show crap, and it cheapens the serious claims of faith to try to use it to prop up the church.

            • The Deuce

              Parkour isn’t a simple explanation here. There’s no parkour move that allows you walk backwards up a wall to the ceiling. And even if there were, there are few if any 9 year olds who could reach that level of expertise, much less in a poor family, much less without anybody else knowing about it considering the extensive training and practice it takes.

              You can argue that the two case workers were mistaken about what they saw (maybe the child actually ran, and they imagined that it was a walk up to the ceiling or something), but parkour is a strained and ad hoc attempt to explain away the events described, not a simple explanation.

              • Dave

                Exactly, the Deuce. Reading the details of the story, the child didn’t do some kind of running gymnastics move. He walked up the side of the wall backwards. It was enough to make two adults run out of the room.

                Kathe, do you feel that Jesus’ miracles, or the miracles performed by the Apostles and the Saints cheapen the serious claims of faith as well?

              • Netmilsmom

                Or the two caseworkers were looking for a big payout.

  • Marcus

    The priest seems to hint that the ex-boyfriend cursed the family. Are curses part of Catholic understanding as to how demons can operate? IDK, this whole thing smells very fishy.

    • Imrahil

      That has been heard before. Does not seem so fishy to me. But then I do not know.

    • Käthe

      His report to his bishop had speculated that the spirits came from someone trying to “congure” up the spirit of a hypothetical dead child from the 1930s while munching on candy bars. No joke. Apparently now that no one else has reported “hauntings” in that house, it’s time for a new theory.

      It strikes me as reckless and irresponsible to publicly accuse this ex boyfriend and his wife–whose identities could, in this day and age EASILY be figured out by someone with time and motivation–of such a horrific thing, completely on speculation. Fishy indeed.

      • kenofken

        It was the classic amateur’s mistake. First thing they taught us in necromancy – don’t cut corners on the candy bar! It has to be the good stuff to work – 85%, and never, ever use the caramel ones. Your mouth WILL get all stuck, you’ll flub the incantations, your containment triangle won’t hold the bugger, and before you know it, you’ve got some kid moonwalking up a wall.

        It used to be that a Goetic Theurgist put some pride and craftsmanship in his work. These punks coming up today…..they all think they’re too good for the fundamentals. It’s all about flash and the quick buck for these kids and this is what we get!

    • The Deuce

      All the stuff I’ve seen on Catholic Answers (a couple interviews and writings from exorcists) say that it actually can happen that way.

    • Fr. RP

      Skepticism in the realm of the Demonic is very hip in the modern world, just as is the fascination with evil and the weird or spooky. Prudence is needed in discernment and one is wise in following the Wisdom of Holy Mother Church. That being said, curses (hexes, spells etc…) are not something to be treated as “myth” or “ridiculous” they are indeed very real and are part of the operations of the evil one and his dupes(knowingly or unknowingly.) That being said, they are not something to freak out about, if one is following the Lord and using the ordinary means of Salvation/Sanctification (the Sacraments, devout prayer, fasting, penance, works of mercy, etc.) the evil one’s machinations will not prevail. The more our society turns away from Christ and gives itself over to every sort of idiocy modernity and the curiosity that occultism can come up with the more the demonic forces will be able to exert themselves in unrepentant sinners lives. Curiosity in regards to occultism is always to be avoided: Curiosity killed the cat and that cat had nine lives. Think about that. The devil often works through curiosity.

      • Käthe

        If they are real, accusing someone of cursing someone else in that way is like accusing them of assault or attempted murder. You don’t go making that kind of accusation in a massive public forum just on speculation. It can destroy a person’s reputation and make them a target for retributive violence.

        • Fr. RP

          Why are you replying to me about this as it is a non-sequitur to what I wrote and to what the original poster was asking?

  • Rebecca Fuentes

    I read the news report Fr. Longenecker posted a bit ago. I certainly believe what they reported is possible, and it seems like there are several third party witnesses that corroborate the weirdness. I don’t know anything about the priest, so I will give him the benefit of the doubt. A few things in the story left me uneasy. The family contacted a clairvoyant first, who claimed there were something like 89 demons int he house. I am leery of anything involving psychics/clairvoyants, etc, as just another way to try dabbling in the occult. The grandmother also claimed that she was a special sort of person born with protection against demons, of which I am also skeptical. I’m sure a curse from the boyfriend could have been the beginning of it, but I also wonder if the family had some sort of contact with the occult that left them more vulnerable to spiritual attack.

    • Jacob

      That’s a good point; however, its hard to discriminate between people with spiritual gifts, frauds, and worst of all people actively pursuing the demonic when looking from a distance. If a pentecostal woman claims to be a clairvoyant, I don’t really know which one she is – the same with the grandmother.

  • anna lisa

    A social worker and a nurse saw the boy walk backwards up a wall, and upside down at a Methodist Hospital. They called a priest ASAP. Why does everyone suddenly appreciate Catholic priests when the Devil shows up?

    • Netmilsmom

      Understanding that there are cameras everywhere in hospitals, it would be interesting to see the film of this.

      • anna lisa

        Are there cameras in the rooms of patients? I’ve been in hospital rooms about 15 times and have never seen one.

        • Netmilsmom

          The child was said to have been in the ER when this happened.
          ER exam rooms have security cameras.
          If you have worked there, you will understand why.

      • TO

        I’ve never seen a camera in an exam or patient room. Pretty big breach of privacy, that. If it were in a hallway, though, I would be pretty suspicious.

    • Mark S. (not for Shea)
      • anna lisa

        Fr. Longenecker made the very good point that Jesus was performing exorcisms everywhere he went. Sounds to me like hospitals might do well to have a trained priest on speed dial.

  • Mark S. (not for Shea)

    From the article: “We set up another session. I felt we needed to up the ante and find out the demon’s name.”

    .
    Is that standard procedure? Seems a bit iffy to me.

    • Fr. RP

      It is very much standard procedure to determine the demon’s name. It’s part of the rite of exorcism (at the very beginning.) It’s is based on Christ commanding that ‘Legion’ reveal their name. The thing that concerns me is that the good father does not appear to be very well studied in what he was/is undertaking, which is all to common in the present time. Every Diocese should have at least one well trained and HOLY exorcist, preferably more…

    • The Deuce

      If you search the topic on Catholic Answers, they’ve got a few writings and interviews with exorcists over the years, and they all say that finding out the demon’s name is part of the official ritual: http://www.catholic.com/search/content/demon

  • Michelle

    The bishop gave his permission for the exorcism. It was investigated appropriately, with an appropriate amount of skepticism. This priest has not sought attention himself. Why not make an accurate, truthful movie? This is the ultimate good vs evil plot. Christ clearly wins in the end. We live in an age where many deny the supernatural. What a great way to evangelize if the story is told well.

    • Käthe

      If you or this priest thinks Hollywood is going for “accurate and truthful” in a film about demonic possession, well, I guess “painfully naive” is the word that comes to mind.

      Why did he, and not Latoya, get the deal, anyway? Why did he even talk to reporters at length about the serious personal problems of a woman he assisted in his role as priest?

      • Tyler Durden

        He is probably on board as a consultant to make sure that the details are accurate. If you read the article at the Indystar they link both to his report and the police report. Read that. This story needs NO embellishment. It’s crazy enough and writes itself.

  • Jennifer

    My brother is a police officer in Gary. It is for real.

  • http://janalynmarie.blogspot.com/ Beadgirl

    For people interested in learning more about exorcism, I recommend The Rite by Matt Baglio, about the training an American priest receives in Italy. He was shadowed by the author, a journalist, who as a result of his experiences reverts to Catholicism. It also debunks a lot of the mythology around exorcism. And yes, curses can result in demonic possession. Also, surprisingly, exorcisms are rarely a “one and done” procedure, and instead must be ongoing for an indefinite period of time.


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