Volume 92, Issue 71

Wednesday, February 3, 1999


Huge med student protest hits Toronto

Faculty amendments in the mail

Grads to vote on pass

Forum wagon cruises into affiliates

Ridding evil sees change of the times

Death spurs awareness

Suurkask hopes to sweep council clean

Thefts decrease

Caught on campus

Ridding evil sees change of the times

By Tara Leitch
Gazette Writer

Being possessed by ghosts, ghouls and goblins may be hooplah to some, but Pope John Paul is trying to renew faith in the ritual of exorcism.

Early last week, the Pope made revisions to the exercise of exorcism and said he still feels it to be a necessary custom. One of the changes made to the ancient Catholic ritual will make exorcism more sensitive to the fact individuals who claim to be possessed may be psychologically ill, rather than possessed by demonic forces.

"The Pope is trying to inject an element of the rational into what is really an absurd practice," said Lorne Falkenstein, assistant chair of philosophy at Western. He added he sees no real cause to believe in exorcism or Satan.

A person must have a combination of ignorance, bad luck and a feeling of helplessness in order to imagine powerful unforeseen agents of evil, Falkenstein said.

Douglas Leighton, chair of the department of history at Huron College, said exorcism has been around for a long time. "The rite of exorcism is a medieval leftover in some sense and is much misunderstood." Leighton, who was not sure if he believed in Satan, said he did believe in the creation of evil by humans.

"The Pope is trying to update different rituals, such as the rite of exorcism, which has been part of church history for 2,000 years, so that it may become more relevant to the times," said Angelo Bovenzi, a priest and member of Western's chaplains' association.

The church has been given the power through Jesus Christ to overcome the evils in the world, Bovenzi explained, adding exorcism is still a useful tool. "The ritual of exorcism may be relevant in cases of an extreme nature as it is only used as a last resort."

He added popular culture has changed the understanding of evil. "Movies like The Exorcist have allowed Hollywood to capitalize, tantalize and commercialize evil. Evil is used to scare and invoke personal fear and thrill, all of which people pay for.

"Evil, however, does exist, but it is a deeper kind of evil that affects the world and human nature," Bovenzi said. The devil lingers in the background where he goes unnoticed and is therefore able to manipulate people for the purpose of evil, Bovenzi explained.

"Religion is so buried beneath science. It seems to be a case of the Pope having to accept science into religion" said Ryan Tucker, a third-year geography student, when asked of his opinion on the Pope's revision to the rite of exorcism.

"In some religious rites people do seem to be possessed not by the devil, but by some other spirit that may not necessarily be evil," said Echo Wang, a third-year social science student.

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Copyright The Gazette 1999