Berlin, Germany, May 25, 2008 (CNA) - A radio documentary reporting that hundreds of Germans believe themselves to be possessed by demons has drawn attention to the status of exorcism in the Catholic Church and the lack of exorcists in Germany.
The Times Online explains that the state-run radio network WDR’s report on exorcism in Germany has sparked the renewed interest . The radio piece consists of interviews with several exorcists and extracts from several exorcisms that the network received permission to record.
Father Joerg Mueller, who heads a group of priests, doctors and therapists to deal with possible cases of demonic possession, told WDR that in the past year he has received requests from about 350 people who believe they are possessed by an evil spirit.
“Therapy hasn't worked for them; they want exorcism — a prayer that can free them,” said Father Mueller, who is based in a Bavarian monastery. He estimated that about 90 percent of people seeking help are mentally ill rather than possessed. Many have suffered sexual abuse as children.
“But about ten per cent of the people who approach us have some sign of demonic possession and then you have to turn to special, charismatic men and women who have the gift of being able to feel and recognize if demons have entered someone,” he said.
A Polish exorcist referred to as Father Wiktor told WDR that many people are seeking help. “I would say that every day at least one person is undergoing a full-scale exorcism,” he said.
The lack of exorcists in Germany has moved some Germans to turn to spiritual healers and priests in Switzerland and Poland. Father Adrzej Trojanowski, a Polish priest, plans to set up an exorcism center in the town of Poczernin on the Polish-German border.
The topic of exorcism has been considered taboo by many German Catholics since the death of Anneliese Michel in 1973.
The 23-year-old woman reportedly had epilepsy and suffered from hallucinations. Two priests authorized to conduct an exorcism performed the rite 67 times. She died after starving herself to a weight of 68 pounds.
The exorcists and Michel’s parents were sentenced to six-months’ suspended jail sentence for not referring her for medical treatment. Her case was the basis for the 2005 movie “The Exorcism of Emily Rose.”
Vatican City, May 25, 2008 (CNA) - Speaking to pilgrims about the feast of Corpus Christi, Pope Benedict XVI said "the Eucharist reveals the true beauty of Christianity" and is "the school of charity and solidarity that should make us more attentive to the many people who struggle to procure their daily bread."
"One week ago our gaze was on the mystery of the Trinity; today we are invited to fix our gaze on the holy Host: and thus on God, the same Love. This is the beauty of true Christianity: The Creator and Lord of all things was made a grain of wheat in order to be sown on our earth, in the furrows of our history. He was made bread to be broken, shared, eaten; he was made our food to give us live, his own divine life.”
Pope Benedict also pointed to the fact that Jesus was, “Born in Bethlehem, which in Hebrew means ‘house of bread’.” From these origins, Jesus’ desire to feed his followers became even more explicit in his preaching. He revealed to the people that “the Father had sent him into the world as the ‘living bread descended from heaven,’ as the ‘bread of life’.”
The Holy Father elaborated on this feast of the Eucharist, calling it "a wonderful gift of Christ, who at the Last Supper wanted to leave us with this memorial of Easter, the sacrament of his Body and Blood, a token of his immense love for us."
The Eucharist, he said, is "the school of charity and solidarity. He who eats of the bread of Christ cannot remain indifferent before those, who also in our day, are deprived of their daily bread."
Addressing the problem of rising food costs and poor distribution, he said, "Many parents can hardly procure enough food for themselves and their children. It is a growing problem that the international community is making great efforts to resolve. The Church not only prays ‘give us this day our daily bread,’ but the example of the Lord who in so many ways ‘multiplies five loaves and two fish’ with countless initiatives to promote humanity and sharing, so that no one is lacking in what is necessary to live."
The Holy Father added that Christians are called to be attentive in concrete ways to the many who go without food.
"Dear brothers and sisters, let this feast of Corpus Domini be an occasion to grow in the in this concrete attention to our brothers, especially the poor."
"We obtain this grace from the Virgin Mary, from whom the Son of God took flesh and blood, as we repeat in a celebrated Eucharistic hymn, set to music by the one of the greatest composers, Ave verum corpus natum de Maria Virgine… Mary, who brought forth from her womb Jesus, who was the ‘tabernacle’ of living, imparts to us her own faith in the holy mystery of the Body and Blood of her divine Son, since he is truly the center of our lives."
At the end of his address, the Pope invited all those present to join him in Rosary in St. Peters Square next Saturday evening.
Vatican City, May 25, 2008 (CNA) - After praying the Angelus prayer and imparting his apostolic blessing, the Pope gave a special greeting to pilgrims from China, recalling yesterday's World Day of Prayer for China and the victims of the country’s recent earthquake.
"I greet with great affection the Chinese-speaking pilgrims who are gathered in Rome from across Italy on the occasion of World Day of Prayer for the Church in China,” the Holy Father said.
He also prayed for the victims of the earthquake which rocked China’s Sichuan province two weeks ago. “I entrust to God’s merciful love your fellow citizens and all those who in these days have died as a result of the earthquake, which struck a wide area of your country. I renew my personal closeness to those who are experiencing anguish and tribulation. Thanks to the fraternal solidarity of all, the people of those areas can soon return to normalcy of everyday life,” the Pope said.
“Together with you I ask Mary, Help of Christians, Our Lady of Sheshan, to support "the commitment of those in China, who in their daily labors, continue to believe, to hope, to love, and so never fear to talk about Jesus to world and the world to Jesus,” while remaining “always credible witnesses" of his love and "remaining united to the rock of Peter on which is built the Church," Benedict concluded.