Medieval superstition: Marching back into the dark ages, Pope Francis has given his formal approval to the barbaric and ignorant practice of exorcism.
The Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano reported Tuesday that the Vatican has formally recognized the International Association of Exorcists, a group of 250 priests in 30 countries who supposedly liberate the faithful from demons.
Under the Pope’s guidance, the Vatican’s Congregation for Clergy approved the organization’s statutes and recognized the group under canon law.
AP reports that Pope Francis speaks frequently about the devil, and last year was seen placing his hands on the head of a man supposedly possessed by four demons in what exorcists said was” a prayer of liberation from Satan.”
According to other reports, Pope Francis, unlike his recent predecessors, has a strong focus on the personification of the Devil. Satan is regularly mentioned in his speeches and presentations. Indeed, in one of his first speeches as Pope, Francis made clear his view about the personification of evil, declaring: “Anyone who does not pray to the Lord prays to the Devil.”
The Catholic Encyclopedia defines exorcism as “the act of driving out, or warding off, demons, or evil spirits, from persons, places, or things, which are believed to be possessed or infested by them, or are liable to become victims or instruments of their malice”
The belief that individuals are possessed by demons is silly nonsense. Yet this silly nonsense can have grave implications for the mentally ill. Mental illness is real. For Pope Francis to embrace the ludicrous idea that people are possessed by demonic forces is to deny in part the scientific reality of mental illness.
There is nothing progressive or life affirming by approving the medieval and superstitious practice of exorcism. Demons and evil spirits are figments of the imagination. To pretend that exorcism is something other than cheap and tawdry religious smoke and mirrors is to take a vacation from reality.
Promoting exorcism for people experiencing real pain and suffering is at once both dishonest and unethical. By giving his approval to exorcisms, Pope Francis is rejecting modern science, and embracing an ugly, ignorant and harmful religious superstition.
What’s next, Francis, the Spanish Inquisition?