BALTIMORE — The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on Tuesday is set to debate and vote on the adoption of the first-ever English translation of the ritual book “Exorcisms and Related Supplications.”
The idea of exorcism, or the expulsion of evil spirits from a person, gained attention earlier this year after Pope Francis’ touch apparently calmed a woman who had been thought by some to be possessed. The Vatican quickly said that the pontiff had not conducted an exorcism for the woman.
The translation of the ritual book is one of five action items up for approval this week at the Conference’s annual General Assembly, where 450 American bishops have gathered.
According to a summary, the book is largely about “the rite of major exorcism … [and] while this text affirms the reality of evil in the world, it even more so affirms the sovereignty of Christ to overcome any and all evil.”
The action item was approved for consideration during a June meeting of the Committee on Divine Worship, and includes five modifications suggested by committee members, including:
• Substituting “Zion” for the word “Sion.”
• Changing the phrase “rise up to help me” to “arise in my defense.”
• Replacing the phrase “who give the forsaken a home to live in and lead captives into prosperity” with “who give the desolate a home to dwell in and lead prisoners into prosperity.”
One change that was not approved during this summer’s meeting was to omit the clause “with God’s permission.” The reason, according to the summary, is that “this appears to be more theological speculation and not settled doctrine, especially since the difference between God’s active and passive will is not made clear.”
Monday’s introduction of the action item did not include discussion, but Bishop Michael Bransfield of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, West Virginia, expressed concern about priests obtaining copies of the text for themselves and using it without “proper ritual.”
The action item requires a two-thirds vote by the Latin Church members along with “recognition” by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.