First off, according to the movie The Conjuring, they claim to be the only laypeople who had been authorised to do exorcisms by the Vatican. I don’t believe that. Not only do you need to be a priest to perform an exorcism, but you need to be selected by your bishop for being a particularly pious and experienced priest. The exorcism ritual explicitly specifies this.
At the end, they got authorisation from the Vatican to perform an exorcism. Again that’s dubious, because the local Bishop is the authority there and not the Vatican, who probably would be too busy to deal with these local matters anyway. I can’t even imagine which dicastery would be charged with taking care of that.
They have a museum to the occult, which seems a little dumb. Even if inadvertently, it can be construed as a shrine to the occult. I don’t see any actual exorcists ever memorialising the occult in a museum. I think any theologian will tell you, after you overcome evil, you should sweep it away and not keep thinking of it, which is what a museum of the occult would make you do. Demons are like cockroaches that scurry away when exposed to light, and thinking of light instead of remembering the darkness is the only real way to shoo them away.
In addition to that, exorcists like say you’re supposed to burn cursed items after having a priest bless them. To put them in a museum is madness.
As I understand it, the Haunting in a Connecticut and the Amityville Horror stories, for which the Warrens are known to have worked in, have been exposed as hoaxes. But that incriminates the families in those stories and not necessarily the Warrens themselves.
I am looking forward to hearing responses to this question. I can’t imagine the “Vatican” giving authority to anyone to do an exorcism as it is up to the bishop. Much less, I can’t imagine a lay person being given the ok to do an exorcism. I mean, why? An exorcism is a religious service and should be performed by a priest.
Because there were not enough trained priests to meet the new demand caused by Blatty’s novel and film, and because the Church was unlikely to give official permission, some priests chose to ignore the guidelines for exorcism and perform them on their own.
Ed and Lorraine Warren, Amityville Investigators and self-described Ghost Hunters, helped possessed individuals contact priests who were willing to perform these secret exorcisms throughout the seventies. Some of the priests weren’t really priests anymore – they had left the Church for other pursuits. Others kept their exorcisms secret. One priest, though, is notable for his involvement with the Warrens. Father Robert McKenna, from Connecticut, performed many exorcisms with the Warrens in attendance, though he is reluctant to admit the association. In an interview with Michael W. Cuneo, author of “American Exorcism,” Father McKenna said that the Warren’s “… books are sensationalized, and you just can’t take it literally. I don’t like to be publicly associated with them.”
The dignity of the sacramental and the character of an exorcism demand that the exorcist’s ministry be performed in the way that Jesus taught His disciples, in the spirit of obedience and in keeping with the Church’s practice. An exorcist in the Catholic Church is a diocese bishop or a priest appointed by him, possessing a special permit for performing exorcisms. The permission is permanently or temporarily granted by the bishop to priests , permanently or temporarily to priests endowed with piety, knowledge, prudence and integrity of life, and specially prepared for this task. (See Code of Canon Law).
In recent years, services of so called lay exorcists, promising to drive out demons, are getting more and more popular. They are, for example, fortune-tellers, bioenergotherapists, clairvoyants, folk healers and others. Sometimes they claim to act within the Church, or that they possess authorizations or qualifications. First of all, it must be said that lay exorcists act in opposition to the Church. This is manifested in the fact that their actions are camouflaged and connected with occultism and spiritism. Such people reject the knowledge connected with recognition. They do not offer permanent help to possessed people and they take money for the service. Their actions have commercial character and they make naive people believe that they are possessed. The danger of such practices is that in the case of real possessions the state of the suffering person deteriorates and healthy people can become possessed due in their course. Occultism and spiritism boil down to contact with the evil spirit and contracts with him, which is never advantageous for human soul.
Personally, I would probably classify them as frauds. It seems they like the attention a little too much, and I hold that aspect in question.
As for lay people performing exorcisms I would think they could simply based on scripture where Jesus rebukes his apostles for being offended at others who were casting out devils, as if they had no right to do so. I think it wiser to involve the Church and a Priest that has been assigned to do so by the Bishop or the Vatican, but I find no reason to suggest it is out of the realm of possibility for others to have this gift.
Wow. About your first quotation, priests aren’t supposed to ignore the guidelines and performing an exorcism without authorisation from the local bishop actually wouldn’t be effective.
There was one case of a real exorcism by a real exorcist priest who wasn’t within the boundaries of his own diocese to perform it and didn’t get permission from the local bishop to perform the ritual. The demon laughed at him and said something like, “You’re doing this in disobedience.”
So, no, no, no – a priest cannot do this without official permission from the bishop of the area. They can do prayers of liberation whenever they want but absolutely not exorcisms without their bishops’ approval.
They also were not in full union with the Church. I can’t say about when they were younger, but when they were older they were heavily associated with a canonically irregular chapel in Connecticut. This Chapel operated without the Ordinary’s permission, and answered to a bishop that was illicitly ordained in Mexico. Ed Warren is buried in the graveyard which belongs to the chapel.
I wouldnt base my judgements on the events as portrayed in a hollywood movie, but chefmomster2’s offering of a snipet from a Priest seems more accurate.
I wouldnt call them frauds, though. If there were enough priests around that could perform this service, suffering people wouldnt have to go to lay people outside of the church seeking healing.
As per the 2nd quote under laypeople:
“They do not offer permanent help to possessed people and they take money for the service. Their actions have commercial character and they make naive people believe that they are possessed. **The danger of such practices is that in the case of real possessions the state of the suffering person deteriorates **and healthy people can become possessed due in their course.”
Exactly. What about the real cases of people suffering spiritually without access to any priest? Isnt the church to blame for that? I am talking about an ordinary Catholic unfortunately stuck in an overcrowed parish with one overwhelmed priest and no access to him? BTDT
So, no, I do not think they are frauds, they are providing a service when no other remedy is available. What would you have people do? Try walking into a Sunday morning service for confession and say you are possessed. Good luck with that
*]a person or thing intended to deceive others, typically by unjustifiably claiming or being credited with accomplishments or qualities
*]wrongful or criminal deception intended to result in financial or personal gain.
I believe it is fraud, based upon the definition. Although some people feel they have been helped and despite a shortage of exorcists, those facts do not excuse misrepresentation.
The Warren’s represent themselves as being approved by the Vatican. This is untrue. They gain financially by this work which is another factor in fraud.
The Warrens may have thought themselves sincere in their desire to help people, but I cannot credit them with sincerity. Their lie concerning the Church is not something a sincere person with good intentions would commit.
According to Wikipedia, this “Father/Bishop” Robert McKenna, O.P., is himself an advocate of - get ready - “sedeprivationism,” i.e. one who holds that all the guys since John XXIII have been defective Popes, following the principles of the late French theologian Michel Louis Guérard des Lauriers, O.P., as Lauriers set it out in his thesis published in the Cahiers de Cassiciacum and therefore called the “Cassiciacum thesis.” The question may not be whether the “Vatican” has approved the Warrens as medium-exorcists, but more like which “Vatican?”
In their defense, I’m pretty sure the Warrens don’t charge, so in Christological or Gospel terms, there is some room for their apostolate, however macabre. We have to consider that, like Catherine Doherty, they’re unpopular simply because they hearken to an older school of Christianity. (Google Saint “Albert the Great” and “the Occult,” for example.) I actually know a guy who works at the restaurant that the now widowed Lorraine still frequents, with a mysterious priest…who can it be?
I always thought historical research was fun, but that is a lonely place to be in today’s academic climate. Communists and almost every other type of ideologue seems to hate it. Anyway, God bless!
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