KATOWICE, Poland (ChurchMilitant.com) - The Polish bishops announced in June that they are setting up a national center for the formation of exorcists.
The bishops announced their plan after the plenary assembly of the Polish Bishops' Conference in mid-June.
The national center, which will open in the city of Katowice ― about 50 miles northwest of Krakow ― will train and accompany priests chosen to be exorcists.
Poland currently has 130 exorcist priests, a number that is growing.
Church Militant sat down with Zachary King, a former satanist and current pro-life advocate, to discuss the national center for the formation of exorcists in Poland.
King agreed with the Polish bishops' decision to establish a national center since training exorcists properly is essential.
"No other way works," he said.
King then spoke about the authority of bishops and the necessity for a priest to have the bishop's permission to perform the major rite of exorcism.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) highlights this teaching: "The solemn exorcism, called 'a major exorcism,' can be performed only by a priest and with the permission of the bishop" (CCC 1673).
"You need to be the exorcist appointed by the bishop; you need to have the backing of the Catholic Church behind you," said King.
"If you do not have that authority, the demon can read that ― and he doesn't have to go," he added.
King then distinguished between doing deliverances and performing the major rite of exorcism.
"In deliverances, which any priest can do, you are asking God in His love and mercy to free this person of this oppression or curse, etc.," he said. "In the [major] rite of exorcism, the priest has permission; he has been asked by the bishop to do it."
The exorcist priest does not have carte blanche from the bishop to perform exorcisms whenever he sees fit.
"The priest must ask permission from the bishop for every individual exorcism he does, so it is a totally different process than deliverance," said King.
A random priest without the authority of the Church to perform the major rite of exorcism "is bringing damning things upon himself," said King.
King recounted a time when a priest in Chicago told him that he had the permission of the bishop to perform an exorcism on a 12-year-old boy. With that understanding, King was helping the priest as much as he could with information.
The exorcisms on this boy continued for three years until the chancery learned that this priest was performing exorcisms without the bishop's permission. Letters were sent to all the parishes in the diocese to inform them that this priest was suspended from all priestly ministry for this violation.
The boy, about 15 years old at that point, was still possessed. It is unclear what became of him.
Father Pat Collins, an Irish priest exorcist, noted that the fewer people practice the Catholic faith, the greater the demand for exorcisms.
"It is a paradox that the more people have abandoned religion in Ireland, and stopped going to church, the more the need for exorcism," he said.
Based on Collins' commentary, the Polish bishops have made a timely decision to train more exorcists in their country.
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