Leyte-Samar priests learn about exorcism (Philippines)

Philippine Daily Inquirer, 6 Nov. 2009, Cyrain Cabueñas

THE DEVIL IS NOT ABOUT TO change his evil ways. He remains hard at work and makes his vile presence felt through people he possesses.

This prompted Fr. Amabe Moslares, 60, parochial vicar of the Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception parish in Guiuan town in Eastern Samar, to attend a seminar late last month on deliverance ministry and exorcism.


It was his first time to take part in such a seminar in his more than 30 years of ministry in the Diocese of Borongan.


???I have never seen the devil face to face, but I have encountered and combated his minions a number of times. They are present, even if they do not have horns or tails,” Moslares says.


The need to constantly battle with the devil was also the reason Borongan Bishop Crispin B. Varquez brought a team of priests to the seminar on spiritual direction, deliverance ministry and exorcism in Ormoc City in Leyte last week.


The seminar was initiated and sponsored by the Alliance of the Holy Family International (AHFI) and attended by the clergy of Calbayog, Borongan, Naval and Palo towns.


Old as Christianity


According to AHFI spiritual director Fr. Edgardo Arellano, the practice of exorcism is as old as Christianity itself and even predates it, and the Church teaches that the Devil is real and evil spirits exist.


Arellano, however, laments the fact that the Catholic Church is largely mum about it these days.


He cites the influence of “modern theologians” and those with a liberal mind-set who have played down Satan’s influence as they have accepted psychological and psychiatric explanations of a person’s abnormal behavior.


“If you speak about the Devil, you lose your credibility and you scare people. Even some members of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) say this is just fanaticism, a hoax,” Arellano says.


“The greatest influence of the Devil is to convince even bishops and priests that he no longer exists,” he says.


Arellano says the stand of “Positivists,” who are fixated only on the love of God, as well as the claim of “Objective Realists,” who focus only on the modern era and consider evil and exorcism as irrelevant pose a great challenge.


“How can you talk only about God’s love in the midst of corruption and violence? The Bible has numerous passages about Christ expelling demons and being tempted by the Devil. The battle against the Devil is central to His mission. In fact, the Devil’s influence was already seen in Adam and Eve,” he says.


Our Father


Arellano cites the “Our Father” as a classic example of prayer of deliverance from evil. He quotes 1 Peter 5:8, where the Devil is portrayed as prowling like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.


To discuss about the Devil’s existence is not obsolete because even the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World: Gaudium et Spes # 2 talks about Christians and human families under the strangle hold of a personified evil,” he says.


Before Vatican II, exorcism was a minor order, a prerequisite before ordination to priesthood. The Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith tackles Christian Faith and Demonology.


In 1999, the Vatican issued a revised Catholic rite of exorcism for the first time since 1614, essentially reaffirming that Satan exists.


Recently, Pope Benedict XVI added exorcism as one of the courses in one of the universities in Rome. His predecessor, John Paul II is said to have exorcised a woman at the St. Peter’s Square once.


According to Fr. Francis Tiquia, provincial of the Oblate Apostles of the Two Hearts, Satan is at work through diabolical possession, oppression, obsession, subjugation and infestation.


The signs that a person is possessed is when he or she speaks other languages, exhibits extraordinary strength, knows about hidden or secret things, and averse to anything sacred.


Exorcism office


Tiquia says that only the archdioceses of Manila and Palo, and the Diocese of San Pablo in Laguna have exorcism offices. Manila has registered at least 186 cases of exorcisms, while San Pablo has a case almost every week, he says.


Fr. Bernard Aljibe of Borongan says he once witnessed an exorcism, but the case simply involved the paranoia of a teenaged victim on the family way.


Arellano points out that Canon Law strictly requires the permission of a bishop and the consent of a psychiatrist before a real possession is pronounced.


The New Rule of the Revised Catholic Rite of Exorcism calls for a Church-approved exorcist to consult modern medicine and rule out the possibility of a mental and psychological disorder.


A practical advice is never to touch the person being exorcised lest one is accused of harassment. Minors should have their parents’ consent, and a doctor and a policeman must be present.


A video recorder is also a welcome gadget.


Arellano says that while there are bad spirits or preternatural demons, there are also natural demons in human forms.


???Humans who violate God’s will and reek of self-love are demons in human forms. We are not fighting flesh and blood but principalities of darkness,” he says.


“When people persist to live in lie and refuse the truth these are signs that Satan exists: abortion, reproductive health bill, divorce, euthanasia and same-sex marriage. When people stubbornly refuse the Gospel, when love is subordinated to egotism: First world countries hoarding all the power and resources at the expense of Third World countries, nefarious plots of the Bilderberg group, the Lisbon Treaty establishing the European Communities, the Agenda 21 or depopulation program of the UN, the Codex Alimentarius or the propagation of GM foods, the Freemasons, Rothschild and Rockefeller trying to establish a new world order.”


Arellano says his strong statements often cause people to walk out. However, he says he has documents and even films to back up his claims.


One must remain in a state of grace, refuse sin, do sacrifices, confess regularly, observe a communion of reparation, consecrate oneself to the hearts of Jesus and Mary, and perform good works to be able to defeat the Devil, he says.


The author is the former rector of the Nativity of Our Lady of College Seminary in Borongan, Eastern Samar and the former head of Communications and Mass Media of the Diocese of Borongan.


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