Neither Hobgoblin nor Foul Fiend

Here via the Daily Telegraph, a little reminder of what lies beneath:

Polish exorcists are gathering in Warsaw for their national congress confident in the knowledge that their numbers are increasing as more and more Poles struggle with Satanic possession. Since 1999 the number of Polish exorcists has surged from 30 to over a 100, despite the influence of the Catholic Church waning in an increasingly secular Poland. Exorcists attribute the increase in their numbers to growing scepticism in psychology in the wider Polish population, and people looking for spiritual reasons for mental disorders.

In recognition of modern science, however, exorcists now work in tandem with psychologists in order to distinguish between psychiatric problems and the work of the devil. But while some cases of Satanic work are difficult to diagnose others manifest themselves in shocking circumstances explained exorcist Father Andrzej Grefkowicz.

“An indication of possession is that a person is unable to go into a church, or, if they do, they can feel faint or breathless,” he said.

“Sometimes if they enter a church they are screaming, shouting and throwing themselves on the ground.”

The national congress comes as part of a policy by Poland’s Catholic Church to lift the veil on what was once a secretive practice. Frustrated by the Hollywood image of cross-wielding exorcists engaged in dramatic conflicts with demons the Church intends to show the complicated and often more mundane world of exorcism.

Father Grefkowicz stressed that the most of the time exorcism required quiet prayer.

Amazing. Of course, nobody should overlook the calming power of a tranquil, reassuring chat (and that’s what that “quiet prayer” could, at its best, amount to), but it is impossible to avoid the suspicion that much of the exorcism process tends to feed hysteria rather than cure it.

Perhaps we should ask Governor Jindal, the Linda Blair of Louisiana, for advice on this question. No, thinking about it, we probably shouldn’t.

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