An experienced exorcist has issued guidelines on how to tell the difference between people who are demonically possessed and mentally ill.
Father Cipriano de Meo, from Foggia in southern Italy, has been practising exorcisms for over 64 years and has now laid out the subtle differences – as he understands them, reports The Mirror.
As you may expect, Father de Meo believes that prayer is the key to establishing whether a person presented to him is ‘genuinely’ possessed by demons.
He told the Catholic News Agency:
The exorcist will typically say a prolonged prayer to the point where if the adversary [demon] is present, there’s a reaction.
According to Father de Meo, this reaction often includes ‘facial expressions, threatening words or gestures and especially blasphemies against God and Our Lady.’
Father de meo also outlined how the Catholic Church believes that mental illness and possession are very different:
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.
Illness, especially psychological illness, is a very different matter – treating this is the concern of medical science.
Therefore, before an exorcism is performed, it is important to ascertain that one is dealing with the presence of the Evil One, and not an illness.
Drawing on his vast experience, Father de Meo also warned that all exorcisms are different, and that priests are required to undergo intensive training before they can deal expertly with a demonic presence.
And he should know – apparently his bishop has allowed him to host his own ‘school for exorcists’ for the last 13 years.