Ecumenical exorcism on the rise

Exorcism has been growing in Catholic and Protestant corners for some time, but the perception of high demand for the practice among church leaders of both traditions is leading to greater cooperation and consultation, reports Griffin Paul Jackson in Christianity Today magazine (October). According to Andrew Chesnut of Virginia Commonwealth University, “Pope Francis and many Catholic exorcists believe that fighting the Devil and his minions is of such urgency and import that it’s better to join forces with Protestant demon fighters than compete with them.” In the last decade, the Catholic Church has been rehabilitating its rituals surrounding exorcism as well as training and appointing a growing number of new exorcists [See RW, Vol. 34, No. 2]. While evangelicals are becoming more active in this field, Pentecostals and charismatics (as well as Catholic charismatics) have long practiced deliverance ministries.

The Catholics’ more scientific approach, working in collaboration with doctors and psychiatrists, is becoming more common among Protestants, writes Jackson. In response to growing requests for exorcisms, partly because of increased occult involvement by younger generations, these different deliverance and exorcist ministries are increasingly collaborating. This year, for the first time, a handful of Protestants attended the Vatican’s annual training on exorcism and deliverance. The attempt to find common ground may not be simple; there are differences over whether Christians can be possessed and whether priests and the permission of bishops are needed to engage in exorcism, as Catholics teach.

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