In an exclusive interview with CNA, author and pro-life leader Fr. Thomas Euteneuer discussed his recent book on the often misunderstood topic of exorcism, asserting that due to an increased exposure of young people to the occult, priests within the next decade are going to be “inundated” with exorcism requests.
Speaking on his new book, “Exorcism and the Church Militant,” which was released on June 14, Fr. Euteneuer, who also serves as director of Human Life International (HLI), elaborated on the need for exorcism to be clarified in modern society.
When asked why the ancient rite is often shrouded in misconception, Fr. Euteneuer explained that, “first of all, it's misunderstood because most people's perception of exorcism come from the movie the Exorcist or the Exorcism of Emily Rose,” or “some of the horror flicks that disguise themselves as exorcism movies.”
“One of the purposes of the book,” he noted, “was to take back the proper understanding of exorcism by placing it squarely in the context of the Church's pastoral ministry.”
In regard to the need for this pastoral ministry, Fr. Euteneuer asserted that “priests are going to be inundated in the next decade or so at least with requests for exorcism because I can already see it happening now where the younger generations especially have been affected by a lot of hard and soft occultism.”
“Soft forms of occultism are like Wicca and New Age,” he explained, adding that “Harry Potter contributes to that with over 400 million books being sold.” The popular book series, he claimed, has helped educate “younger generations in the language and the symbolism of the occult.”
Although many young people have treated the books merely as “entertainment,” he observed, “it actually leads them more deeply into occult practices.”
“All of this is inevitably, with the lack of faith, going to lead to serious spiritual problems for younger people and those problems are going to be laid at the foot of the Church.”
Though “Exorcism and the Church Militant” is intended for a “general audience,” said Fr. Euteneuer, it is meant specifically to make an appeal “to priests to read it, learn it and get more involved in it.”
“Because,” he clarified, “exorcism is a pastoral ministry and the explicit form of exorcism is a liturgical rite which can only be done by priests.”
Addressing what could be seen by many to be a daunting and frightening topic, Fr. Euteneuer said, “I encourage people to take the view of the Church towards this and that is, we have nothing to fear with regard to evil.”
“We just simply must apply the authority of the church to the power of evil in this world and I don't believe we're doing that adequately.”
“Fear is what keeps us from doing it adequately,” he said. “Fear is what keeps the Church from actually taking the spiritual resources that have been given to the Church and applying them to the very serious forms of evil.”
“Remember that in Jesus' ministry,” Fr. Euteneuer underscored, “He healed the sick, He preached the Gospel and He cast out demons. He continues to do those works in and through the Church and that it what he handed on to the Church to do.”