KOTA KINABALU – A 500-over crowd listened attentively to Fr Charles Chiew as he delivered talks to help people understand what exorcism is, and to know who can conduct exorcism.
A two-day seminar on Exorcism and Prayer of Deliverance was held at the Sacred Heart Parish Centre here on 30-31 Aug 2016.
Catholics are generally familiar with the notion that “exorcism” refers to the driving out of evil spirits from a person/place/thing that is believed to be diabolically possessed.
Fr Chiew told the participants what the Catechism of the Catholic Church (ccc. 1673) says about exorcism:
When the Church asks publicly and authoritatively in the name of Jesus Christ that a person or object be protected against the power of the Evil One and withdrawn from his dominion, it is called exorcism.
The solemn exorcism, called “a major exorcism,” can be performed only by a priest and with the permission of the bishop. The priest must proceed with prudence, strictly observing the rules established by the Church. Exorcism is directed at the expulsion of demons or to the liberation from demonic possession through the spiritual authority which Jesus entrusted to his Church.
He said that according to Can. 1172 §1: No one can perform exorcisms legitimately upon the possessed unless he has obtained special and express permission from the local ordinary.
An exorcist in the Catholic Church is a diocese bishop or a priest appointed by him, possessing a special permit for performing exorcisms. The permission is permanently or temporarily granted by the bishop to priests, endowed with piety, knowledge, prudence and integrity of life, and specially prepared for this task, said Fr Charles.
He continued, the priests who do not have a special permission from the bishop can conduct “minor exorcism” (as in every baptism) and prayers of deliverance (as found in ‘Catholic Handbook of Deliverance Prayers’). However, a number of the approved deliverance prayers (in the Handbook) may also be used by prayer groups in deliverance ministry, or by families and individuals – it is not a solemn exorcism and it does not contain the Roman Ritual formula: ‘De Exorcismis Et Supplicationibus Quibusdam’ in Latin invoking the evil spirits directly to leave in the Name and Power of Jesus Christ, as in the case of possession. All priests can perform exorcisms of water, oil, salt and incense.
The priest added, “Exorcism is” in fact “another form of charity and assistance to those who suffer; this undoubtedly forms part of the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.” It is hoped that during this year of mercy, more priests would be specially trained and be prepared to take up this ministry. After all, ‘Exorcist’ was a minor order in ranks (in between Lector and Acolyte) in the formation of the priesthood in the past.
Fr Chiew then quoted Fr Gabriele Amorth, SSP, founder and honorary President of the International Association of Exorcist, “In fact, the priests have to be the most prepared agents to help, support and guide confused and fearful persons, by explaining to them the nature of Satan, his purposes and his ways of acting, and how to counteract them.” Unfortunately, this is found lacking among our local clergy.
Fr Chiew has been authorised by Archbishop John Wong, Bishops Cornelius Piong and Julius Gitom to conduct these seminars in the different parishes in Sabah.