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Exorcists and Exorcisms--and Demons too?--Proliferate Across U.S.

on 2000/11/28 8:47:02 ( 1717 reads )


CHICAGO, ILLINOIS: There are demons here, some people say, the kind that torment and manifest themselves through the people they possess, evil spirits that can trap people inside themselves and utter foreign languages. That belief was at the root of a decision by the archdiocese of Chicago to appoint a full-time exorcist last year for the first time in its 160-year history, the name of whom remains undisclosed to protect those seeking his services. Rev. Bob Larson, an evangelical preacher and author who runs an exorcism ministry in Denver said he had 40 "exorcism teams" across the country performing exorcisms in the belief that Christians have the authority by Jesus Christ to drive Satan out. "It's in the Bible. Christ taught it." The number of full-time exorcists in the Roman Catholic Church in the United States has risen to 10 from only one a decade ago, said Michael W. Cuneo, a Fordham University sociologist whose book "American Exorcism: Expelling Demons in the Land of Plenty" is to be published next year. Mr. Cuneo writes of an "underground network" of exorcists numbering in the hundreds, and a "bewildering variety of exorcisms being performed." From 1989 to 1995, the archdiocese of New York examined more than 300 potential exorcism cases. Exorcisms were performed in 10 percent of the cases, Father J. James LeBar, chief exorcist with the New York Diocese, said. Since 1995, the New York diocese has investigated about 40 cases a year. Two factors are spurring the growth in exorcisms, experts said: popular culture and a belief that there is more evil in the world. As recently as the 1960's, Mr. Cuneo said, "exorcism was all but dead and gone in the United States." But in 1973, the recently re-released movie "The Exorcist" of satanic and demonic possession changed that. However, the Roman Catholic Church requires that a physician rule out the existence of a medical or psychological condition before an exorcism can be considered.

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