Pope Francis decided yesterday to recognize exorcism as a legitimate part of the Catholic faith. That’s right, in the year 2014 the leader of the largest Christian group in the world has decided to officially revive the ancient practice of casting monsters out of peoples’ bodies.
L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican’s newspaper, reported that the pope has approved of the practice. No word on whether the sacrifice of scapegoats or the stoning of non-virgins will follow. But while it may be easy for the modern minded individual to scoff at this, it’s no laughing matter for the pope.
Pope Francis has been very upfront with his belief that the devil is an actual, real individual, and he even performed an exorcism himself last year. While that particular one didn’t result in head spinning and projectile vomiting, it did show how seriously the pope takes this, ahem, “threat.”
Even here in the United States a 2013 poll showed that nearly two-thirds of adults aged 18-29 believe in some form of demonic possession. That’s right, almost as many millennials believe in demonic possession as believe in evolution.
“‘But Father, how old-fashioned you are to speak about the Devil in the 21st century,’ ” the pope said, referring to people who question him taking the church in this direction. He went on to warn “Look out because the Devil is present,” while presiding over Mass at the Vatican’s chapel in St. Martha’s House last year.
Jesus is said to have performed exorcisms in the Bible, but that was back in the days when there were all kinds of magic spirits and god still hung out with people. For the most part, those things haven’t seemed to happen much in the 21st century. At least not since the Salem Witch Trials.
While it seems unlikely that chain-smoking demon fighters will fight the forces of satan any time soon, or that two real life brothers will inspire tons of inappropriate fanfiction anytime soon, at least we can all sleep well at night knowing that there are trustworthy men out there fighting the forces of evil for us.