The National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly

Volume 18, Issue 4, Winter 2018

Rev. Gerald D. Coleman, PSS
Pages 595-602

Separating Exorcism from Superstition

The increased interest in exorcisms and demonology should be moderated by a proper understanding of the relationship between psychology and spirituality. There is an important link between psychological aberrations and possession, but too often and too quickly, a person’s mental health is dismissed or overlooked in favor of a diagnosis of demonic possession. The Church’s ritual of exorcism can be properly used only after psychological discernment, episcopal approval, and personal assent. Most priests are not prepared for the role of exorcist and should spend their time more effectively addressing pastoral needs. The belief in demons is part of biblical witness and Catholic history. At the same time, we must avoid any tendency toward redemption by exorcism.