This is ridiculous. It raises serious questions about the involvement of religious officials and medical professionals in mental health care.
The International Association of Exorcists has been formally recognized by the Vatican’s Holy See, an indication the Catholic Church approves of the controversial practice of exorcism.
The group, restricted to Roman Catholic priests, was founded in 1990 by six priests. They included Father Gabriele Amorth, known as the “Exorcist of Rome,” who claims to have performed 160,000 exorcisms — the ceremonial process of releasing demons from those possessed by them.
The organization now has 250 members in 30 countries.
OK, let’s play “devil’s advocate” here. Some people who have mental or behavioral troubles may be believers in demonic possession. The process of exorcism (done under the strict Roman Catholic exorcism procedure which requires a priest’s consent from his bishop, and examinations by medical specialists) may serve to help the patient cope with their difficulties.
That does not require the rest of us to accept that demons are real and bothering humans. It is like a placebo that makes people feel better. Is it ethical?
Not for a doctor, no. Should a doctor recommend spiritual counseling? I’m sure many do.
I suppose I’m torn on this. I do not condone this absurd superstition. (Note that the piece mentions the 1973 film, The Exorcist, as the public face of “exorcism”. That was FICTION. This idea is based on fiction.) But is it worth it to help people who are beyond rational help with irrational methods that may work?
This is a case where science informs what we should do (not exorcism) but we may need to consider non-science-based input.
In no way should we accept amateurs trying to do exorcism. They are seriously dangerous. Also, I do not condone the involvement of exorcism’s lead cheerleader, Gabriel Amorth. He’s off the edge.
My opinion would be much stronger input by psychologists and psychiatrists in evaluating these cases. They should be carefully documented and analyzed with followup so we can see what effect this procedure has on affected people. This would be the ethical course for the RC church to take. Will they? I doubt it. But health professionals should demand it.
This acknowledgement by the Vatican will surely legitimize the practice far more than it should be. As usual, the nuance will be totally lost.