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Priest Made Millions from Fake Exorcisms

May 21, 2008 09:11 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
An incident in Florence, Italy, is just one sign of a growing interest in the practice worldwide. Psychotherapists have been disturbed by this trend.

30-Second Summary

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Father Francesco Saverio Bazzoffi amassed £3 million, or just under $6 million, and regularly attracted large crowds of over 400 people at staged events during which individuals would “pretend to be possessed,” reports Britain’s The Daily Telegraph.

“During Mass, the priest spoke in Aramaic, and strange things happened. I do not know if it was group hysteria or our suggestibility, but I remember one old woman screaming in a man’s voice while five big guys held her down,” a witness told police.

Though the practice appears anachronistic to many Christians today, exorcism, a ritual in which evil spirits are expelled from people or places, is on the rise, reported The Wall Street Journal in 2005. Recent popes have encouraged exorcism, which has become popular in the developing world, carried there by the spread of Catholicism.

Rome’s chief exorcist, Gabriel Amorth, said last year that the Pope wants an exorcist in every diocese in the world.

The resurgence has sparked tensions between priests and psychotherapists concerned about patients whose mental illnesses may have been exacerbated by a belief in demonic possession, reports Jennifer Green of The Ottawa Citizen. Last month, an Australian ministry came under fire because of a program that offered Bible study and exorcisms to mentally ill young women.

Speaking to the Citizen, Ottawa psychiatrist and practicing Catholic Carlos Miura said that he uses healing prayer but has never attended an exorcism.

“There is a long tradition of spiritual healing, and there is a short tradition of scientific healing,” he said. “At the same time, there are lots of distortions on both and there are difficulties in both, and neither of them is totally right all the time.”

Headline Link: ‘Priest “Made £3 Million From Fake Exorcisms”’

Related Topics: Canadian archdiocese appoints new exorcists, and a troubled ministry in Australia

Opinion & Analysis: Exorcism v. psychotherapy, and exorcism’s comeback

Video: Exorcism in the Philippines

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