Co-authored by Dr. Kate Kingsbury* and Dr. Andrew Chesnut
As of the past few decades, it is clear that Catholic clergy are witnessing a mushrooming demand for exorcisms. An astonishing number of people undergo deliverance from demonic forces every week, not only in the developing world but also in Britain and the United States.
Pope Francis, who regularly speaks about the Devil, has told priests that they “should not hesitate” to call on exorcists if they hear confessions or see behaviour indicating satanic activity. Just a few months into his pioneering pontificate, Francis himself performed an informal exorcism on a man in a wheelchair in St Peter’s Square. The youngster had been brought by a Mexican priest who presented him as demon-possessed. The Pope intently laid two hands upon the man’s head, clearly concentrating on driving out the demons.
The first Latin American Pope advocates exorcism as a potent weapon for doing battle against the Enemy and his legions. Like most of his fellow Latin Americans, Francis regards the Devil as a real figure who sows discord and destruction in the world.
Last April, the Vatican organised an exorcism workshop in Rome. More than 250 priests from 51 countries assembled to learn the latest techniques to exorcise demonic spirits. Alongside the usual spiritual paraphernalia of holy water, Bible and crucifix was a new addition: the mobile phone, in keeping with the global technological zeitgeist, for long-distance exorcisms.
Our analysis continues here on The Classical Ideas Podcast.
*Dr. Kate Kingsbury obtained her doctorate in anthropology at the University of Oxford, where she also did her Mphil. Dr. Kingsbury is a polyglot fluent in English, French, Spanish. She is a polymath interested in exploring the intersections between anthropology, religious studies, philosophy, sociology and critical theory. Dr. Kingsbury is Adjunct Professor at the University of Alberta, Canada. She is fascinated by religious phenomena, not only in terms of their continuity across the Holocene and into the Anthropocene but equally interested in the changes wrought to praxis and belief by humans ensuring the infinite esemplasticity that is inherent to all religions, allowing for their inception, survival, alteration, regeneration and expansion across time and space. Dr. Kingsbury is a staunch believer in equal rights and the power of education to ameliorate global disparities. She also works pro bono for a non profit organisation that aims to empower and educate girls in Uganda. Follow Dr. Kingsbury on Twitter