Rituale Romanum, The
The Rituale Romanum
, or priest's service manual, contains the only formal
exorcism rites sanctioned by an established church.
First written in 1614 under Pope Paul V, the ritual remained untouched until 1952, when two small revisions were made in the language.
As early as its publication in the 17th century, the Rituale
strongly cautioned priests against exorcism when no true possession existed.
And as medical science further defines illnesses previously thought to be the result of demonic interference - hysteria, multiple personality,
schizophrenia, paranoia, sexual dysfunction and other neuroses brought on by childhood terrors and obsessions - determining true possession has become
increasingly difficult. The 1952 revisions changed the wording that symptoms of possession " are
signs of the presence of a demon" to "
" States other than possession, originally described as "those who suffer from melancholia or any other illness," became "those who
suffer from illness, particularly mental illnesses." Many devout Christians have turned away from the idea of possessing demons at all.
Others continue to believe in demonic possession. If the victim exhibits signs of paranormal capabilities, shows superhuman strength and, most
importantly, manifests knowledge of previously unknown languages, then he or she is a possible candidate for demonic exorcism. If such symptoms
accompany extreme revulsion for sacred texts and objects, then the church may deem the victim possessed. With permission from a bishop, the exorcist
begins the ancient ritual.
Exorcism is not a sacrament but a rite and is not dependent on rigid adherence to a set of actions; exorcism relies on the authorization of the
church and the faith of the exorcist. The exorcist is FREE to VARY THE PROCEDURE, substituting his own favorite prayers, altering the sequence of
events or speaking in his own language.
Most exorcists have found, however, that LATIN particularly bothers evil spirits. The Rituale
provides instructions for exorcism, exorcism of people possessed by the devil and exorcism of places infested with the devil or other demons.
exhorts the exorcist to make sure that the victim is possessed and not suffering from mental illness. Even during exorcism, the
priest should continue to question the victim about his mental and spiritual state. Under no circumstances should the exorcist offer medicine to the
victim, leaving such work to a medical practitioner. If the possessed is a woman, the exorcist should be assisted by a strong woman, preferably from
the possessed's family, to avoid the hint of scandal. The possessed should hold a crucifix during the exorcism, and the exorcist is encouraged to
use holy water and relics, recite passages from the Bible and liberally make the sign of the cross over the victim. Finally, the exorcist should
speak in a commanding voice, only questioning the devil about his name, the number of demons in possession, where they came from and how they got
there. In keeping with its 17th-century origins, the Rituale
asks the exorcist to find out whether the evil spirits were sent because of a
sorceror's magick spell or other occult documents. Unnecessary questions about future events or the conditions of past loved ones only put the
exorcist in the power of the devil.
Not acknowledging something doesn't make it go away...