Good grief! It's hard enough to take the Pope and the Catholic Church's politics seriously these days, given all their misguided priorities and scandals. But exorcism? For real? Do these people still believe in demonic possession?
Apparently they do. And it's not just something that the Roman Catholic church winks at. Exorcism is an official duty of Roman Catholic priests, one that requires special training. And worse, they seem to have a serious shortage of exorcists!
I'd like to think that this is just a funny joke. But there are real live victims at the bottom of this story.
These "demonically possessed" people are mentally ill and in need of serious professional medical help. To the church's (small) credit, they've advanced to the point where the Church requires a physical and psychological examination prior to an exorcism to "rule out" medical problems. But that appears to be nothing more than a small bone thrown to the medical establishment so that the Catholic Church doesn't look quite so medieval. What they're really saying is that when a patient has a particularly difficult condition that is hard or impossible to treat, it must be demons.
It's medical and psychological fraud.
People often ask me and other atheist/humanist writers, "Why do you care so much? Why not just let religious people have their beliefs?" Well, this is why. As long as there is a teenager anywhere in the world who is developing the first signs of schizophrenia, and who is being accused of demonic possession, I won't rest. It is morally reprehensible to accuse a mentally ill person of being responsible (through spiritual weakness) for their own condition.
Mental illness is a terrible tragedy. It uses one's mind, the very thing that makes us human, as a tool of torture. Schizophrenia, paranoia, and other delusional illnesses submerge their victims into a world of nightmares that the rest of us can't even fathom.
It makes me sick to know that the Roman Catholic Church still interferes with medical treatments in the year 2010. It's another sign of the corrupting effects of blind obedience and blind faith, and of holding on to outdated beliefs long after science and common sense have prevailed over ignorance.
Catholics should be ashamed that their leaders endorse such nonsense.