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There is a Colombian priest in our area that invites lay people to watch while he supposedly performs exorcisms. Is this permitted? It seems dangerous.

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    Been on the front line of this before. This seems bogus. His bishop should be made aware of this. Rome would suppress this in a minute.
    – Ken Graham
    Commented Jul 2, 2023 at 15:15
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    Baptisms (generally public events) include a prayer of exorcism in the liturgy, though that is minor compared to the rite of exorcism.
    – Henry
    Commented Jul 2, 2023 at 23:30
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    Are you sure he is Roman Catholic?
    – Nacht
    Commented Jul 3, 2023 at 0:03
  • Are you sure you're understanding this correctly? The only legitimate variation on this theme, that I can think of, would be if he's performing an exorcism in public (say, in the street in front of an abortion clinic) and is inviting the faithful to join him in prayer.
    – workerjoe
    Commented Jul 3, 2023 at 17:55

3 Answers 3

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Are spectators allowed during Roman Catholic exorcisms?

The short answer is no.

Your example seems bogus.

Is the priest in question seeking attention and glamour?

Rome would suppress this if found out. Victims of real exorcisms have a right to privacy and remain unknown. Only famous cases ever get mentioned.

Exorcisms normally take place in a church or chapel. Rarely elsewhere.

Generally speaking there is no such thing as a spectator during a Catholic exorcism. Besides, the victim of a diabolical possession has the right to privacy.

Exorcisms are to be taken as something very serious and not performed as some sort of spectacle at the box office.

A priest may ask for support from others during an exorcism. But there are strict rules to follow. Doctors and medical professionals can aid the priest in an exorcism. Also women (or family) may be asked to help when the victim is a woman, so they can help hold the victim in place. It is less modest for men to do this.

Not all exorcisms involve a possessed person and an exorcist is often aided by members of the community during an exorcism. And there is the fact that there are different types of exorcisms which the laity may freely pray.

One can read the rules involved in performing a Major Exorcism here. Rule 19, for example states:

  1. The exorcist should guard against giving or recommending any medicine to the patient, but should leave this care to physicians.

  2. While performing the exorcism over a woman, he ought always have to assisting him several women of good repute, who will hold on to the person when she is harassed by the evil spirit. These assistants ought if possible be close relatives of the subject, and for the sake of decency the exorcist should avoid saying or doing anything that might prove to an occasion of evil thoughts to himself or others.

Also during exorcisms, only the exorcist may speak to the Demon.

Father Gabriel Amorth in his book An Exorcist Tells His Story makes it clear that there no such thing as a spectator at Catholic exorcisms. If someone is present at a particular exorcism, they are there for a reason. Thus family and medical professionals such as doctors and psychiatrists are called in for assistance. This not something performed for an audience. Occasionally, there will be an assistant exorcist or a exorcist in training present. All those present are not simply spectators, they are there for specific reasons.

Father Gabriele Amorth explains all the rules to his “team” before commencing with the exorcism. They are not to reveal what they witnessed, in a way that would harm the reputation of the victim.

Father Luis Ramirez, an organizer of the course being held this year on May 16-20, told CNA: “Let’s say that until 30 years ago the exorcist usually worked almost alone, that is, he worked with two or three people.”

Now, the priest said, “there is much greater knowledge that the exorcist must have a team, he must also have support. He has to have a team that can help.”

Ramirez is one of the organizers of an annual week-long course on the ministry of exorcism and prayers of liberation for exorcists and those who assist them, put on by the Sacerdos Institute and the Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum, a Catholic university run by the Legionaries of Christ.

While only a priest can perform the rite of exorcism, laypeople often assist at the rite with prayers. When someone is believed to be having trouble with demonic oppression or possession, psychologists or other medical professionals may also be called in to perform examinations, to rule out natural causes for disturbances.

Exorcists feel isolated — but this course aims to change that

It could be noted also that the demon will attack the integrity (sins) of all present in word or in action. In other words, if you have something to hide, it is best not to assist. The demon could reveal past sins in order to make one leave the scene. This reason alone leaves me to believe that the story is bogus.

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  • One theme I hear come up in exorcisms is the demon "calling people out". Like, reading their spirits and attacking them verbally to break them down. I would imagine if somebody was there to watch "for kicks"/out of curiosity, that could be something such a being could latch onto. Commented Jul 3, 2023 at 14:20
  • Exorcisms primarily happen in churches? I guess that is just a Hollywood assumption that an exorcisms would take place in some possessed persons bed chamber. Is it since the majority of exorcisms are not possession that it stands to reason that the exorcism might involve the person willingly entering holy ground?
    – Peter Turner
    Commented Jul 5, 2023 at 14:53
  • @PeterTurner Do not get me wrong. It does happen in bed rooms. It the exception. Being in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament will weaken the demon's strength. Anything sacred he uphors. Some Exorcists put relics on the possessed head. The true cross relic is very powerful. The ritual of exorcisms is a basic outline or guide. Once prayed the Exorcist can employ other prayers such as the rosary... Exorcisms can last hours.
    – Ken Graham
    Commented Jul 5, 2023 at 16:13
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As a deacon I have assisted in exorcisms, and all I can say about it, is I can’t say anything about it other than in very general terms. So you can imagine that making it a spectacle for viewers is not exactly permitted.

I imagine it could be dangerous, not only in a spiritual dimension but also physical, but the privacy of the people involved would be more than enough reason not to allow spectators.

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I can only attest to scripture, not dogma. There is no formula, Paul and Peter exorcised at the moment, whether witnessed or not as the recorders of Acts. These can only be cast out by prayer and fasting perhaps under the unction of the Holy Spirit(Jesus) " I give you power" As to the Roman church establishing a formula, ther may be good intention, but good intention is not enough to cast out evil intentions. 7 sons of sceva.

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