This picture is a detail of one of Signorelli’s murals which I beheld in person in my time overseas. Note how the anti-Christ looks just like Christ! Surprise, surprise. Of course, he does. Do you think he would look like Satan? In that case, how could he fool the most people? There are tell-tale signs. He’s standing on a pedestal. Our Lord was instead raised up on a Cross. And notice, on that pedestal, the naked prophet balaam beating his donkey (not good!). Satan, horns and all, stands directly behind this anti-Christ. Hard to tell if he’s just giving advice, or if he’s the one pointing. In other words, the anti-Christ is possessed. Remember Judas, an apostle, and at this point, a priest. Satan entered into him at the Last Supper. In the larger mural, Satan and the anti-Christ are pointing to a crowd swayed by them. They’ve just martyred another priest, a Dominican, putting an axe through his skull… The anti-Christ may look like Christ, but he is not good nor kind.
The first clue of a priest being another anti-Christ is disobedience. “Non Serviam!” (I will not serve!) There’s most always a rationalization for disobedience. Regarding exorcism, it’s usually about a priest not being an appointed exorcist, but doing exorcisms anyway. Sad that. Dangerous for himself and dangerous for those who may or may not be harassed. So many of these fake exorcists, however nicey nice and sincere, end up being agents of Satan, getting themselves and others into real trouble.
Do you think the bankruptcy over sexual abuse has been hard for the Church? Just wait until people get the idea that non-exorcist Father Nicey Nice disobediently doing exorcisms on them caused them real grief in psychological and physical health, regarding property, employment, on and on. The whole thing would start all over again. Can you imagine a charismatic priest accused of doing exorcisms without permission in his younger days? He’s then removed… and… sent to another assignment… because he’s… nice, and the bishop or superior is also charismatic and nice and really sees nothing wrong with any “niceness” done back in the day, or even today. Coverups. Denials. Litigation. Jail. Sigh… How can Satan not win when priests are disobedient to Christ so as to be obedient to Satan, all done in all niceness, of course.
Here’s a story to demonstrate the diatribe above. It’s in a place you don’t know about people you don’t know, with all the unimportant details changed so you can’t know who they are. Remember, I’ve been pretty much everywhere around the world my whole life and speak a number of languages…
A highly respected priest I know, I think someone who would consider himself my friend, not only did exorcisms while not being mandated by any bishop, but he did this according to what he had learned about “exorcism” from a woman I could only call a witch. She probably thought of herself as being gifted. He certainly thought she was gifted. All thought themselves to be “charismatic.” This priest is a kind of icon of orthodoxy. Always dressed in his roman collar, always looking like he’s supporting the Pope.
Back in the day, someone very needy, person “A”, approached him, asking him to do an exorcism over the spouse, person “B”. Thinking that “B” would not agree to an exorcism, he asked “A” if it would be O.K. to call Satan into “A”, so as to then do an exorcism over “A”, but commanding Satan to leave “B”! Well, of course, by this time, with the disobedience to the bishop and all the obsequiousness offered to Satan, almost certainly “A” and “B” along with the priest would be newly harassed by Satan, even though they might have had no problem at all with Satan previously.
This is what disobedience does to priests, the wannabes. There’s a saying that goes like this: “If you need the rank, you’re not worth it; if you’re worth the rank you don’t need it.” In this case, however, no exorcist is worth the rank, but all exorcists need the rank. This disobedient priest, ignoring all that, got himself into trouble, speaking of traces of Satan being left behind within him after such exorcisms. (What a way to speak! Just so wrong on so many levels.) He was altruistic about all this, saying that this is the cost one must bear to be of service to others. Yet, that is not the cost. Jesus doesn’t allow such things for those He Himself has appointed through His Church. He will allow it for those who insist on being disobedient to the Church and obedient to Satan. If the priest was bothered later by Satan, what about “A” and “B”? This has nothing whatsoever to do with the experience of a true exorcism, which is simply, no more and no less, being in humble reverence before Christ Jesus, a most prayerful experience. Exorcism is a holy action, not something which gets you possessed.
As for the priest, I let his bishop know about it at the time. As for “A”, I explained the situation, recommending that “A” not go back to such a priest, however nicey nice and sincere and charismatic and apparently orthodox he was. “A” will almost certainly not go into litigation with the priest or the local diocese, but others might. And there are others. A multitude. How many priests, perhaps especially “charismatic” priests, do “exorcisms” without permission over people? How many others have had adverse effects from this disobedience? Thousands? A few tens of thousands? Oooooooo! Think of the money! Sigh. When will governance return to so many dioceses? When will people be truly sick of lack of governance? How long must people suffer nicey niceness as a way to govern? I can hear how it will go, can’t you: “But Fr Schmoe is so nice! He was surely sincere! What could possibly have gone wrong? I’ll just reappoint him elsewhere. I want to be nice!” Just my opinion, but I think priests doing exorcisms without a mandate need to be suspended a divinis, so that they can no longer publicly serve as priests, at least until they whole heartedly repent, proving that they understand what the situation is.
O.K. A bit of a rant. A bit anachronistic. Many “charismatic”, disobedient “exorcists” are really quite old now, most are retired or dead. Some still keep up their disobedience, nice as they are. There is a new generation of priests. Real exorcists who are trained and appointed by their bishops. Their services will have to be used to clean up the mess of those who have been disobedient. I don’t know how many cases we received at the “office” from those who were abused in this way by make pretend exorcist priests… There is still a great deal of disobedience right around the world: “I’m just doing deliverance prayers!” In reality, most of these “deliverance” sessions are full exorcisms wrought in all disobedience.
Fathers: If you’re going to be exorcists, be mandated by the bishop!