Interview with Father Pedro Barrajon, Rector of the Pontifical
By H. Sergio Mora
ROME, May 27, 2013 (Zenit.org) – In the television program “Vaderretro” of the SAT 2000 channel of the Italian Episcopal Conference, a video was shown of Pope Francis praying while imposing his hands on a young man in a wheelchair. In the program some thought it was an exorcism.
The news, widely reported in newspapers, was scaled down by Father Federico Lombardi, S.J., spokesman of the Holy See Press Office, who said it was a prayer and not an exorcism (see:May 21st article.)
To reflect further on the matter, ZENIT interviewed Father Pedro Barrajon, rector of the Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum of Rome, where several courses on exorcism have been taught.
ZENIT: Father Barrajon, what is an exorcism?
Father Barrajon: It is a sacramental, a sacred sign that has spiritual effects through the intercession of the Church, carried out by a bishop or authorized priest on a person who is possessed by the devil.
The rite is structured with an introduction, an initial part, the reading of the Word of God, and a series of prayers that include one in which the exorcist asks the devil, in the name of Christ, to leave the person.
ZENIT: Is a particular rite necessary?
Father Barrajon: Yes, it’s a celebratory rite that begins with the sign of the cross, the proclamation of the Word of God, the Litany of the Saints, the aspersion with holy water, the profession of faith, the imposition of hands, the renunciation of Satan, the recitation of the Lord’s prayer, the blessing with the cross, the breathing into and the prayers proper to exorcism; it ends with a blessing. Some of these parts can be omitted. The rite was published by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments in 2001.
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