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  • Msgr. Stephen Rossetti

Exorcist Diary #103: Insensitive Exorcists


A woman recently contacted me about the insensitive behavior of her exorcist. I cringed when I read it. She said the exorcist "hits me in the face with holy water" which triggers her PTSD. Also, in the midst of a session, he has started to command Jezebel to leave. She added: "I don't know if he thinks he is hurting and abusing the demons with this behavior, but since I am the one who lives in this body, when he is calling for Jezebel to leave, it is so very hurtful to me."

I am guilty of such insensitive behavior as well. Mea culpa! We exorcists are not noted for our kind pastoral manner. On behalf of all of us, I apologize to her and to all of our clients whom we deal with in rather gruff and sometimes insensitive ways.

I suppose it goes a bit with the territory. Over these years of doing exorcisms, I have been repeatedly spit in the face, knocked down and suffered a concussion, several times choked to the point of passing out (demons have a surprisingly strong grip), bit and suffered teeth marks, cussed out innumerable times, threatened often, punched and kicked, my ritual books ripped, and holy objects thrown across the room. And if the session goes well, the afflicted person will scream, thrash uncontrollably, and vomit lots of white foam.

While I go into each session with confidence in the Lord, and I know I am basically protected, it is still a battle. We have our strong helpers restrain the afflicted but it is not a perfect system. Sometimes we are caught off guard. So, I walk in with caution and my first goal is keeping everyone safe. But I often forget that I have a wounded and frightened person in front of me. Mea culpa!

My encouraging light is Padre Pio. He personally battled demons and had the marks to prove it. He was gruff and accused of being insensitive. He was noted for practically yelling at those closest to him, particularly when they sinned or needed correction. If there is room in heaven for such a man, I trust there is room for our band of flawed exorcists. Mea maxima culpa!

In our training sessions for exorcists, a strong module needs to be included on pastoral care and pastoral sensitivity. In recognition of the woman who courageously contacted me, we will certainly include this in the days to come.

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