The two-day conference, which is not open to the public or news media, was organized by Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, Ill., The New York Times reported Friday. Paprocki said the main goal of the conference is to help priests and bishops decide when exorcism is appropriate.
The conference Friday and Saturday was scheduled in advance of the U.S. Conference of Bishops fall meeting.
"Not everyone who thinks they need an exorcism actually does need one," Paprocki said. "It's only used in those cases where the devil is involved in an extraordinary sort of way in terms of actually being in possession of the person. But it's rare, it's extraordinary, so the use of exorcism is also rare and extraordinary. But we have to be prepared."
The ritual of exorcism is founded on Jesus' casting out of demons in the Gospels.
R. Scott Appleby, a professor of church history at the University of Notre Dame, said reviving exorcism restores a sense of the church as an institution dealing with the supernatural: "It's a strategy for saying: 'We are not the Federal Reserve, and we are not the World Council of Churches. We deal with angels and demons.'"
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