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    Current rating: 4.6 (34 ratings)

    Fr. Barron comments on Why Exorcism Films Still Fascinate

Kell Brigan
Agreed on all counts. The best parts of the movie version of The Rite for me were those which most closely resembled the book, i.e. did not go off into CG effects. If the producers had treated the film as a straight drama instead of tucking it into the horror genre, it would have been so much better (the book's fascinating, and far more intelligent). I suspect part of the need to discuss exorcism in only the most sensationalized terms is a way to keep fear and God at a distance.
2/10/2011 5:56:46 PM
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Melissa W.
Thank you Fr. Barron for your faithful dedication to Christ, his Church and helping us to appreciate the role, need and impact of priests....especially against the reality of evil. I thank all priests for their witness and sacrifice. I pray daily for priests to remain faithful and hopeful in a world full of so much sin. God bless you all.

Here is an eye opening talk about exorcism by an actual exorcist.
2/10/2011 8:44:47 PM
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This was a very good way to remind us of the sacrifices that our Priests make. Too often the everyday sacrifices of the priesthood are not appreciated and are overlooked. These everyday sacrifices deserve to be celebrated in our lives (and perhaps even film) just as much as the more dramatic sacrifices.
2/10/2011 9:37:25 PM
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Kell Brigan
Melissa W., Father Euteneuer -- the extremist whose talk you've linked to -- is NOT an exorcist; he was removed from the job approximately two weeks ago due to sexual assault on a woman (whom HLI describes as "gravely harmed") during an exorcism. (There may be additional victims.) Google his name and look at the news items for the past two weeks.

For a discussion of why and how his claims about members of all neo-Pagan religions and/or abortion providers are "Satanists" and his bizarre claims of Satanic rituals in clinics, see my comments under the abortion post on this site from last week.

And, I suggest every time you're tempted to assume that everyone who disagrees with you about abortion is a Satanist, think about how you feel when the current crop of Atheists claim that everyone who is religious is mentally ill. The same bigotry and errors in judgment show up in both cases. Atheists don't get to drug us or put us through bizarre political reprogramming rituals called "therapy" or have us declared legally incompetant, and we don't get to strap pro-choice people into chairs and subject them to bizarre political reprogramming rituals called "exorcisms" and have them declared under the control of demons because they disagree with us on a particular issue.

Euteneuer's call to deprogram pro-choice people by force is very, very dangerous. Even before he was exposed as a sexual batterer and removed from public ministry, his ideas were unChristian and dangerous, and would have been grotesqely sinful (and illegal) if ever actually practised.
2/11/2011 11:44:19 AM
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Dear Kell,
If you read Fr. Euternuer's statement, he takes full responsibilty for his actions and admits contritly that he sinned and has repented, apologizing to parties involved. His statement is here:

Now as for your blatant, sinful character assassination of a contrite sinner, Lord, I pray more mercy is shown you than you showed Fr. Euternuer, a priest of the Holy Catholic Church for 22 years! The most disturbing thing about your comments, Kell, is you sound like you are taking pleasure in his sin. Well, I am calling you out on it. We are all, yes even you, Kell, sinners. Serve faithfully for 22 years and mess up once and all of a sudden you are the worst person in the world. Well, Kell, I pray God is more merciful to you than you are to other sinners! And as for abortion...I do not think all people who have had abortions are satanist, BUT the act itself is with out doubt demonic. Those who aide in it in anyway be deed or by word are aiding a demonic practice. So gently, remove yourself from your high horse, and keep in mind that the sacrifices priests make is enormous. A little respect and enderstanding that anyone can fall would be appropriate!
2/11/2011 4:13:55 PM
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Dear Fr. Barron, thank you for your gentle "pointing" to Christ and our faith so beautuflly in the ways we or, I, don't see on my own. Thank you for pointing out the actions and motivation of these two Priests in the movie as well as in those in the world. Including you, Father.

Thank you for your love and courage to be a Priest especially in these times. And to be right out front! But like I said, you always point to and put the foucus Him.

Bless me Father.......


I understand the character's reaction to the Priest at the end of the movie.
2/12/2011 12:27:15 PM
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Kell Brigan
Fr Euteneueur belongs in jail -- possibly in a facility for sexual criminals who are mentally ill. As to the "sincerity" of his "confession," the fact that he's claiming there is only one victim, while both HLI and additional women are talking of more victims tells me that he's not yet able to tell the truth -- and may never be. I don't khow how God sorts out the souls of sexual criminals, but I am absolutely certain that it is society's duty to listen to the victims first, and to put their welfare -- including their right to see justice done in their community -- first. I'll let God sort out Fr Euteneuer. I hope he sincerely repents, while he's serving his sentence behind bars.

As for abortion being a "demonic" practice, as I understand my Catechism, all sin is, ultimately, "Demonic" to one degree or another. I have consistly limited myself to Euteneuer's claims that abortion providers need to be exorcised; I believe this claim is preposterous, and is based on the SIN of pro-life people thinking their position on the issue gives the right to ignore the humanity of abortion providers. I see a great deal of terrifying, maybe even "demonic," evil coming from pro-lifers who, reluctantly, have given up the whole assasination thing, but still believe they don't have to acknowledge the humanity of people who are pro-choice, and who routinely wallow in hateful language and prurient fantasies about abortion. Doing so wastes the time, money, energy and credibility of the pro-life movement, and is about as far from "loving your enemies" as it is possible to get. I recommend you get off your high horse and read JPII's Reconciliation and Penance -- especially the sections on the subtleties of social sin.

And, most importantly, never, never, never again commit the grave DEMONIC sin of trivializing violent sexual assault on anyone by calling it "messing up." You just helped Satan push yet another survivor of sexual violence into drug addiction, prostitution or suicide. Congratulations.
2/12/2011 2:08:08 PM
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Kell Brigan
"Now as for your blatant, sinful character assassination of a contrite sinner"

Not much contrition is someone who only begins to tell the truth after (one of) his victims comes forth and forces him to. Fr Euteneuer assassinated his own character. As for his "contrition," that HLI continually refers to additional victims that Euteneuer claims don't exist, I doubt he's telling the truth.

Interesting that you don't mention his victim(s) even once. How often have you prayed for her/them, and for her/their attacker to be brought to justice? Fr Euteneuer has already confessed to one felony; if his victim(s) were bound at the time of the violation(s), he's looking at at least a couple more.

The "sacrifice" priests make does not give them the right to have their pick of the congregation as sexual victims. What's the going rate on women's (girl's, boy;s) bodies? If you graduate seminary you get to do violent molestation? If you're a Bishop, do you get to get away with rape? Does the Pope have the right to murder people?

Euteneuer belongs in jail, and I pray that he is incarcerated soon, to the degree warranted by his crimes. I also pray that he experiences a sincere contrition -- while he is behind bars, and while serving his full sentence(s).

How strange that you'd be outraged at abortion as a "demonic" act, yet sexual battery is just some minor "messing up." Even if this attack has happened only once, it is proof that Fr Euteneuer is deeply corrupt, and quite possible mentally ill. Normal people don't commit sexual battery. There are no cir*****stances under which it is normal or sane behavior. And, it's very, very likely that Fr Euteneuer has been committing these crimes for years, on women under extreme emotional distress, alone, and possibly restrained at the time.

Let's play the game by your rules -- people who commit unspeakable acts are somehow "demonic." So, the question now is, was Fr Euteneuer himself a Satanist? What degree of demonic influence was/is he under that would lead him to commit unspeakable crime(s)?
2/12/2011 10:55:04 PM
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Melissa W.
"From what we know to be true, Father Euteneuer was/is a faithful and loyal priest of the Church who caved to temptation and sin. We shouldn't gloss over the troubling fact that it occurred within his ministry; however, I, and more importantly his Bishop, accept his humble apology and explanation. It seemed honest and sincere. He didn't appear to be hiding or displacing blame. His frankness was fueled by genuine motives and the tact was to avoid further offense. I'm only marginally familiar with Fr. Euteneuer's work, but I hope he overcomes this scandalous transgression. I will pray for him." (Quote from a blogger on Fr. Euteneuer's apology. It summed up my thoughts exactly.)

Extremist not an exorcist? The Church has not said that his work in ProLife or Exorcisms was extreme. He did good work in both areas. His talk on exorcism that was posted wasn't in conflict with explanations of the Church's rite or the position of HLI. The talk remains on HLI's website and the Church doesn't say that it is contrary to Church teaching or practice. I thought the talk to be informative of exorcisms. I do not defend Fr. Euteneuer's transgressions, I am wounded by them and mourn them and pray for the victim(s) as well as Fr. Euteneuer.

I don't think that every ProAbortion person or conversation or blog in favor of abortion is satanic per se. I find it strange that you have gone off on the Anti-Euteneuer track. One thing is clear, abortion is not for life, it is not of God. The hearts and minds of those who think they are doing good are misguided at best. (Read the newly released book "Unplanned" by Abby Johnson, a former Planned Parenthood clinic director turned ProLife advocate.) Is Satan at the heart of abortion? YES because Satan is at the heart of every lie....he is the Father of Lies and his aim is to destroy mankind, to rob us of love, life, peace and union with God in heaven. Does that mean that anyone who thinks abortion is good or acceptable or who is somehow involved in enabling an abortion is a satanist....I don't think that to be the case. But they are surely duped and blinded to God's call to life and love and the dignity of every human person and they put themselves at risk for being duped all the more and possibly possessed, as rare as it may be. An abortion clinic is not holy ground, quite the opposite. An abortionist is not a the sense that he/she is trying to "heal". An abortionist is killing, period. The ProAbortion or "ProChoice" movement is all about lying...lying that the baby is not a baby, lying that the baby feels no pain, lying that it is good to kill...the woman is the arbiter of her and her baby's life, lying that unwanted and unplanned can justifying and morally allow a mother to give a death sentence to her baby, lying that sex and making babies are not intertwined, lying that it's her body and she can do what she wants, the list of lies goes on and on. The devil had done his work as so many millions of babies have died for the so called "Choice" of women to kill.

The claim that Fr. Euteneuer wanted to "deprogram pro-choice people by force" is surprising. I have yet to find that statement made by him. Of course no one can or should try to force any one to change his or her mind or forcibly deprogram anyone. That is totally outside common sense, Christian conduct or the norms and the mission of the Church.

Fr. Euteneuer is a man as human as the next. As a priest who was in the business of spreading the Gospel of Life, trying to be holy, warning others of the demonic and its lures and doing exorcisms he was not exactly a friend of Satan. Fr. Euteneuer had a target on his head, as Father Corapi would say, for the work he did and it seems that the devil found Father's weak points and capitalized on them. Father Euteneuer didn't turn out to be as strong as St Pio of Pietrelcina ("Padre Pio) or St. John Vianney in his fight with the demonic. I am extremely saddened by Fr. Euteneuer's conduct (and my thoughts and prayers are with the victim(s) and families involved) but I am not altogether surprised. The devil hates God, his Church, his priests and the sacraments that only a ministerial priest can administer. Satan wants to destroy them all. He wants to destroy all of us too! Make no doubt about it....we are at war, a spiritual war. It is "not against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers" (Ephesians 6:12).

Fr. Euteneuer is not the first priest to fall and transgress in some way and unfortunately he won't be the last. Despite the sins of laity and priests, God's Truth, God's love, God's mercy, God's Bride, the Church, endures and will triumph in the end. The Church Militant marches on fighting the good fight. As tragic as the situation is, and I'm sure adjustments in checks and balances for exorcists will no doubt be made because of the Fr. Euteneuer case, the need for exorcists persists in a fallen world. "But for the grace of God, there go I." God's mercy on all of us! "For the sake of his sorrowful passion, have mercy on me and on the whole world!" (Divine Mercy Chaplet as taught to St. Faustina by Jesus.)

If you'd like to read a more detailed review of the exorcism genre by a faithful Catholic movie reviewer check out Steven Greydanus' articles in the National Catholic Register

"The Rite: Exorcism in the Movies"

"Update: Movieguide Corrects Distortions of Catholic Theology"

If you want to read a good explanation about exorcism that is still in print, try "A Vatican Exorcist Tells His Story"

Here is a good summary: "A Vatican Exorcist Tells His Story. (1990, Ignatius) is an examination of the problems of the forces of evil facing the world through the manifestation of Satan and his demons by Vatican exorcist Fr. Gabriele Amorth. This book explains the importance of exorcism for the Catholic church and the role of the devil and demonic infestation. Fr. Amorth sought to set up legions of exorcists to oppose demonic influence within the church and the modern world. He maintains that exorcism remains an important part of the teaching of the church and should be used to combat spiritual problems and the forces of evil. In this book Fr. Amorth addresses such issues as the role of the occult, witchcraft, demons, and "paranormal" events as they related to the role of the exorcist. The book focuses on Fr. Amorth's personal accounts, who performed over 50,000 exorcisms. It should be pointed out that Christ also performed exorcisms and that Pope John Paul II performed several.

This book includes the following chapters -

Introduction – explains Fr. Amorth's role as exorcist and the importance of his story.

The Centrality of Christ – explains the centrality of Christ for the church and the role of Christ in defeating the powers of evil and Satan.

The Power of Satan – explains Satan's power over the modern world and his role as deceiver. Ultimately, however we must have hope because we know that Christ will triumph over the forces of darkness and evil.

Exorcisms – explains the role and importance of exorcisms to defeat Satan and as a means for spiritual healing of those who are infested with the influence of the demonic.

Targets of the Evil One – explains those who may become targets of evil and the origins of their infestation and possession.

The Point of Departure – explains the point of departure for the exorcist in combating the evil one and his influences.

The First "Blessings" – the exorcisms are euphemistically called "blessings" in order to better combat the evil one and his forces of darkness.

The Demon's Behavior – explains the role of the demon and his behavior in influencing the minds of the innocent.

A Victim's Witness – explains the role of the exorcist in combating the forces of evil that may afflict the mentally ill.

Effect of Exorcisms – explains the efficaciousness of exorcisms in combating evil and relieving demonic infestation.

Water, Oil, Salt – explains the role of each of these items in the work of the exorcist in combating these supernatural forces.

Exorcising Houses – explains the role of the exorcist in relieving homes of demonic presences and evil spirits.

The Curse – explains the role of curses and their harmful influences.

More on Witchcraft – explains the influence of witchcraft and the occult and their harmful influences on society.

Who Can Expel Demons? – explains the influence of the exorcist and the role of the priest in expelling demons.

The "Cinderella" of the Ritual – explains the importance of the exorcist and the role of the ritual of exorcism for expelling the forces of evil.

Pastoral Directives to Be Rebuilt – explains the role that Fr. Amorth believes should be set up for exorcists as well as the problems that besiege the church and the opposition of many modernists to Fr. Amorth's project.

Conclusion – sums up Fr. Amorth's conclusions regarding exorcism and notes his personal experiences in combating the evil one.

In light of recent events, it appears that the forces of evil hold a growing sway over the modern world."

2/13/2011 12:46:40 AM
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michael jaffray king

I have seven children and they tend to blow very hot and cold to all things spiritual.
They make leaps forward and then leaps backward..
I love them very very much and hopefully they know that., and we pray for them in the powerful Rosary Prayer every day.
I believe that they are caught in the net..
However, anything to do with exorcism and the mystical side of our Roman Catholic spiritual life always fascinates them and me too. As Father Barron puts it, "The reality of the Spiritual World!"
The film is not yet out in Germany but will be soon..
When the Devil exposes himself he actually exposes the True, Loving and Christian side of the Spiritual world as well.
The apathy of those who believe in nothing supernatural is seriously damaged by the Devil's antics. I am very thankful for such movies as they shatter the illusion that everything can be explained away just by Science...
2/13/2011 5:03:20 AM
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Kell, why are you so angry? Perhaps you're not, but your e-mail style suggests that. Of course, that's one of the problems w/ e-mail - no inflection, tone, body language. Perhaps you're just direct.
2/13/2011 11:18:00 AM
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Word On Fire

From this point forward, please keep your comments at 250 words or less. Please make your arguments concise and to the point, or provide a link to your own blog post on the matter. Thank you.

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2/13/2011 7:54:07 PM
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Kell, Do you have some inside information that no one else has? Are you somehow privy to all that happened between Fr. Eutenueur and the adult female? Before this came out you came to my blog making different accusations against Fr. Eutenuer. My guess is you are again speculating and going off of whatever gossip that is going around on the internet. If you're not and do have inside information, perhaps you should be taking your grievances up with the authorities instead of making these accusation in a public forum.
2/13/2011 11:55:55 PM
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Well said Jasm. I thought people were innocent until proven guilty...guess that only applies to people we know for sure are guilty! "Forgive us our trespasses, AS WE FORGIVE THOSE who trespass against us." Man I pray for mercy!
2/14/2011 11:15:37 AM
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Kell Brigan
Any sexual assault in the context of an uneven power relationship such as between a therapist and a patient, or a teacher and a student, or by a member of the clergy on a vulnerable member of the laity is BY DEFINITION assault. Even if this were an encounter between willing participants (and, that she was "gravely harmed" and sought help through HLI tells me this was not a consensual event), this would still be grounds for professional censure. That there was likely some degrree of psychological manipulation or threat involved makes this a felony. If there was any form of restraint involved, it's at least three felonies.

No one is required to "forgive" a criminal to the degree that it prevents that criminal being brought to trial. In fact, presuming to do so, when, as in this case, the crime(s) is as much against the rest of society (notice, I did not say the Church -- this crime(s) involves all women and all of society) is to put more people at risk, and to allow the myth to continue to infect society that crimese on women's bodies are unimportant, and that any man in any position of power somehow has the right to make anyone he wishes his sexual victim.

If your definition of "forgiveness" includes putting women you've never even met at risk, you belong to some strange Church that is far more interested in worshipping bizarre male bully power idols that in anything having to do with God.
2/16/2011 9:35:54 AM
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A. Row
The Church does not deny that there are temporal consequences of actions. Choosing to forgive or hold a grudge is a personal matter of free will. What you do with that will destroy you or build you up. But the choice nevers affects just one person; it ripples out to everyone. Peace be with you all.
3/1/2011 4:58:06 AM
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As Kell points out, Priests are held to a much higher standard and not achieving those impossibly high standards (thanks God and His Son for their Grace and Love) thus allowing them to be discredited as hypocritical (at best) by the evil one and his fellow travelers who is/are without forgiveness while condoning the murder of young children while they are in their most dependent states. It is simply a tactic and not amount of guilt or forgiveness beyond cogent arguments and prayer will make any difference. Thank you again and as always Fr. Barron for your and your colleague's important and life-giving, love and forgiveness affirming work. Most sincerely
3/12/2011 10:25:17 PM
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SO TRUE the comments about "The Exorcist" - I would only add the caveat that the story is about FOUR priests - the president of the 'jesuit college' in the film (representing the modern and academic side of the Church) - who was indeed the president of Georgetown of the time - and Father O'Malley, the 'survivor' who himself had dabbled in the stereotypes of worldly Jesuits (also a priest in real life - and great apologist), standing at the bottom of the famous Georgetown stairs looking into the audience at the end of the film. Also Marin and Karris; the older, "preVI2" priest and hierarchy assisting the new priest, a troubled soul who counsels *troubled priests*...the fact that Karris (an ethnic Greek interesting twist itself), and Marin are scientists - latter is more historical and the former is in a 'perennial' science, that of the mind - and the skeptic of the two is in the 'softer' science of Modernism's "inner world" - the brain/mind.

I find ironic that the priest whom "the rite" was modeled after, in speaking about his interaction in the film and it's portrayal of exorcism, was positive, but saw the place of "the exorcist" as negative...I agree more with you, that "The Exorcist" requires multiple viewings, and every time I see it, there's something new. Its a little ironic that the Legionnaires of Christ were the sponsors of the school of exorcism in "the rite", but this was of course not portrayed. Not to comment on the work of the institution - but of course their leader - colored my viewing of the film.
8/11/2011 10:34:52 AM
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Tim Spalding
If I'm not mistaken Fr. Barron is wrong in his description of the Fr. Karras's death. He isn't thrown out of the window he throws HIMSELF out the window.

You can see it if you watch it carefully. Angry and frustrated he yells to invite the devil in. For a moment the devil possesses him--his face changes--and then he's back to being himself for what--it's implied--is a mere moment. He realizes what he's done, so he throws himself out the window.

Someone tell me I'm wrong, but I think this is clear. Theologically, it adds a daring element--Karras commits suicide to kill the devil.
10/25/2011 4:34:37 PM
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I like Fr Barron's view about the two warrior priests doing battle with the devil in The Exorcist film. I would like to suggest Martin Shaw's portrayal of a similar faith warrior in Apparitions (BBC 2008). I think his character Fr Jacob has this quiet argument with his Assistant, Sr Anne " may not want to believe in possession but I'm afraid its Church teaching."
Sr Anne replies "Its not what I signed up for." ..
"Well its in the job description and not in the fine print either. When the church first started out every christian was an exorcist," Fr Jacob responds.

Wonderful, I don't think "The Rite" came close to that level of dialog.
2/7/2012 7:52:13 AM
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Has anyone (including of course Fr. Barron) read "Hostage to the Devil" by Fr./Dr. Malachi Martin? It is a sobering text... In fact Fr/Dr Martin reminds me of a real life version of Max von Sydow's character...
4/20/2012 7:33:53 PM
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I also thought Fr. Karras threw himself out the window AND my emotional reaction to both the book and then later the movie was horrifyingly similar to Fr. Barron but longer. My only issue with the general thematic element if 'The Exorcist' is that Satan is beautiful and incremental not horrifyingly ugly and dramatic. He gently lies and lures not shout and stomps. And he capitalizes on our greatest fears and guilt caused by - among many other things - our inabilty to see ourselves as worthy of His love and forgiveness.
4/21/2012 12:50:37 AM
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