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Exorcism is God’s gift ‘to help us believe’

January 11, 2012
Exorcism is God’s gift ‘to help us believe’ thumbnail
Fr. Jose Antonio Fortea

IF everything you know about exorcism you learned by watching the movie The Exorcist, Fr. Jose Antonio Fortea wants to exorcise those notions from your head.

To learn about exorcism, Fortea said the best textbook is the Bible, especially the Gospels, because, after all, Jesus was an exorcist.

Fortea, a priest of the Diocese of Alcala de Henares in Spain, is an exorcist. He is the author of several books, including Interview With an Exorcist. Currently based in Rome studying for his doctorate in theology, he was in Florida recently to give talks about exorcism and pastoral care.

Every culture has an understanding of demonic possession, Fortea said. “But they don’t have a solution for it. Jesus brought the solution. Jesus taught us to do exorcisms.”

“Exorcism is a sign of the power of Jesus that the power of the kingdom of heaven is here on earth,” he added. “Every exorcism is a gift that helps us believe.”

The need to expel demonic spirits from a person’s body is neither common nor rare, Fortea said.

When his bishop first called on him to study exorcism in the late 1990s, Fortea said he thought exorcism was a rare event that might occur once or twice in a century.

But when more and more people came to him for help, he realized demonic influences were much more active, especially in those who associated with witchcraft, magic, Santeria and some New Age practices.

Unlike the movies, most possessed people seem perfectly normal, he said. The signs are usually subtle – trembling or spitting.

The church has specific prayers and rituals for conducting an exorcism, he said. But when he is training priests, he tells them not to worry about technique. “I tell them to surround the demoniac with the glory of God,” he said. “Center on God.”

Report from National Catholic Reporter

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