WHO HAS THE POWER TO EXORCISE DEMONS?
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The following question occurs frequently: "Since Protestants have no real concept of a central infallible authority, would God have granted us the power [to exorcise a demon] simply because we were acting on what we believed to be the proper scriptural interpretation?"

In reply we may say: Your instincts concerning the Mystical Body of Christ are ecclesiologically correct! Ignorance of the need for proper authority is bliss, that is, successful, if and only if God empowers it. But this is very dangerous all together, for without the proper authority one is personally opened up to the attacks of the evil one. Note that Jesus didn't send everyone to cast out demons. In fact, He put quite a severe limitation on this, an action which is absolutely legitimate for the Church to imitate. In the code of canon law, mirrored by the Catechism of the Catholic Church (1673) we read this:

#1172. No one may lawfully exorcise the possessed without the special and express permission of the local Ordinary. This permission is to be granted by the local Ordinary only to a priest who is endowed with piety, knowledge, prudence, and integrity of life.

In September of 1985 (AAS) Cardinal Ratzinger rescinded the permission for both laity and non-exorcist priests to proceed with any kind of exorcism, something which also applies to the recitation of the exorcism of Leo XIII.

As it is, no one but an exorcist may give a direct command to the devil, for such a direct command, given in the name of Jesus, is by definition an exorcism. The most one can do is make prayers of intercession for the deliverance of the besieged person or thing in conjunction with other sacramentals of the Church such as holy water. Note that this has a place in the prayer of intercession, the Lord's Prayer, at the end of which we pray, "deliver us from evil." "Evil", in this case, is to be understood as a personal evil, that is, the Evil One.

If you come across what you perceive to be a case of someone being harassed by the devil, or have a problem with a dwelling or a particular object, contact my colleague Fr. LeBar. Counselor.


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