US Bishops publish English language version of the Rite of Exorcism to make it easier for priests to drive out the devil
The US Bishops have published the first official English language translation of the rites of exorcism in a move designed to make it easier for priests to combat demonic possession.
Like the original Latin document, De Exorcismis et Supplicantioibus Quibusdam, which has been the official text of the ritual used by priests in the exorcism ministry across the world since 1999, the American document, Exorcisms and Related Supplications, is subject to publishing restrictions. The document is only immediately available to bishops, but may be obtained by clergy, scholars and seminary professors with the permission of their local ordinary (diocesan bishop).
Under Canon 1172, only priests who receive permission from their bishops can perform a major exorcism after proper training. According to Canon Law, Bishops have an automatic right to perform major exorcisms and can share that authority with other priests.
While the bishops acknowledge that there is no scriptural basis for a formal rite of exorcism, they point out that the practice is rooted in the ministry of Jesus
Minor exorcism is more common than many people realise. Indeed, all baptised Catholics underwent a minor exorcism when they were baptised, with a prayer of exorcism preceding the anointing with oils in the Rite of Baptism. Except in the case of an emergency baptism, when an infant is at the risk of death, the Rite of Baptism, and the accompanying minor exorcism should only be performed by a priest or deacon.
The main reason for producing an English language version of the ritual of major exorcism is the continuing decline in the use of Latin among the clergy. The USCCB’s Divine Worship Secretariat said that previously, exorcists not only had to be wise and holy, they also had to have a strong facility in Latin. By having the text available in a vernacular version, ie the English language, an exorcist can concentrate on the prayer and ritual involved rather than the added distraction of having to worry about working in a second language.
The Church has not been hasty in issuing this English language text – the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops gave the translation their approval in 2014 and then forwarded it to Rome for approval by the Vatican, which gave its ‘recognitio‘ earlier this year.