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Catholics agree: America needs more exorcists

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Top Catholic bishops and priests from around the country met in Baltimore this weekend for an urgent, somewhat impromptu conference about a disturbing trend in Catholicism today: the lack of exorcisms. More specifically, the lack of priests who know how to perform an exorcism.

The number of U.S. clerics who know how to do an exorcism has dropped dramatically in recent years, ever since the holy procedure became a laughingstock thanks to Linda Blair's head-spinning performance as a possessed girl in the 1973 film The Exorcist.

The situation has gotten so hellacious that only five or six priests are left in the country with the knowledge to properly carry out an exorcism, the Catholic News Service reported. 

But with numerous Catholic immigrants coming to the United States from nations where exorcisms are taken seriously, the church's handful of exorcists are being overwhelmed.

Before we turn up our noses at a practice that most of us associate with the awesome imagery in The Exorcist, let's consider its roots. Maybe if we strip away all the pageantry and the drama and the backwards stair-walking, we'll learn that exorcisms are actually an old Romanian fertility practice. Or something. Not a Catholic here — help me out, archdiocese.

"We don't think that's poetic metaphor," [Bishop] Paprocki said.

 

Before any exorcism can take place, a priest must look for the telltale signs, such as a violent reaction to holy water, super strength, aversion to the name of Jesus or Mary and speaking in tongues.

Never mind. Forgive me for playing the devil's advocate with Al Pacino. Exorcisms are exactly as we thought.