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Exorcism a common religious ritual

IT sounds dark and mysterious, but exorcism is built into many of Christianity’s most mundane rituals, Lismore Bishop Geoffrey Jarrett says.

Responding to questions about exorcism on the Northern Rivers, Bishop Jarrett, who is also the Lismore Diocese’s exorcist, said things as simple as making the sign of the cross or blessing people or objects with holy water were a form of minor exorcism.

Bishop Jarrett’s comments follow comments from Brisbane exorcist Fr Gregory Jordan, who estimates he does an exorcism about once a week on average – many of them on the Gold Coast.

Fr Jordan said he did not know how often exorcisms were done on the Northern Rivers and Bishop Jarrett has declined to say, describing matters relating to the ritual as confidential and something not to be “put out in the public forum for comment”.

However, speaking generally on the topic, Bishop Jarrett said major exorcisms were rare and done only “where it is established by appropriate investigation that the victim’s claim to be tormented by a demon is really true”.

“Major exorcism is strictly regulated by the Church and can only be deputed by the bishop to a priest of exemplary virtue, knowledge, prudence and integrity of life,” Bishop Jarrett said.

“A necessary distinction is made between psychological illness affecting a person, whose treatment is the proper concern of medical science, and true manifestations of the presence of the Evil One.”

Genuine cases of demonic influence were treated with great discretion. When they occurred, local bishops tended to call on the services of specialist priests.

“Direct confrontation with the Evil One is a serious matter requiring great spiritual strength and precise method of attack,” he said.

Bishop Jarrett said curiosity in the community about exorcisms had come about “because of a widespread pre-occupation with Satanism and various occult practices”.

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