Exorcism madness

Everyone loves a good exorcism story!

Or at least a story about exorcists. Catholic News Service reported a few days ago that the U.S. Bishops Conference was holding a two-day meeting to train bishops and priests as potential exorcists. Then the NYPost picked it up and everyone picked it up.

The fascination with exorcists is easy to understand. Everyone remembers how scared they were when they first saw the movie (I know I do).

And, let’s face it, the notion of a priest expelling the devil from a human being can be hard to jive with our modern, high-tech, science-loving culture. Doesn’t Apple have an APP to rid one of the devil?

But the Catholic Church is quite serious about exorcisms, as the calling of this conference shows. 56 bishops and 66 priests were signed up for the conference, which was to take place Friday and Saturday. (I haven’t been able to find any coverage of the conference.)

Bishop Thomas J. Paprocki of Springfield, Ill., chairman of the bishops’ Committee on Canonical Affairs and Church Governance, told CNS that the 5 or 6 exorcists in the U.S. are in big demand. But full exorcisms are rare, he said, and not as dramatic as what Linda Blair went through.

He said: “We, because of Hollywood, have this kind of exaggerated sense of not only a very dramatic kind of possession, but also a very dramatic kind of exorcism. It ties in with our culture of quick fixes: You do it once and person is going to be liberated.”

Why do I have a feeling that some director out there is thinking “Hmmm, maybe it’s time for a remake. Maybe Miley Cyrus is looking for something to help her get past that whole Hannah Montana phase.”

Or, perhaps, there is a reality TV show out there. “Next on E: Get Me an Exorcist!”

Did you know that William O’Malley, a Jesuit and professor at Fordham Prep, played Father Dyer in the movie. “Shooting this film was like being a kid in the sandlot who gets invited to join the Yankees for a year,” he said a few years ago.