New «Squadron» of Exorcists for the Archdiocese of Madrid

[All links lead to Spanish language pages, except where otherwise noted]

A few days ago, a news item appeared in Religió, a Catholic website. The news could be described as astonishing, even by conservative estimates:

(…) la gran demanda [de] ayuda para liberarse de posesiones demoníacas, o bien de influencias maléficas (amarres, magia negra de brujas y quiromantes, mal de ojo, echadores de cartas […]), ha llevado al cardenal Rouco Varela a nombrar, de golpe, a ocho exorcistas para atender esta enorme avalancha de peticiones.

(…) due to the high demand [for] help in being freed from demonic possession and other evil influences such as love spells and black magic cast by witches, palm readers, the “evil eye,” and fortune tellers […], Cardinal Rouco Varela has hurriedly assembled a team of eight exorcists to meet the avalanche of requests.

As the archdiocese of Madrid explained to the above-mentioned website:

(…) los nuevos exorcistas están estudiando a marchas forzadas el “Ritual renovado de Exorcismos”, aprobado por Juan Pablo II en 1998.

Algunos de los neoexorcistas también se han sumergido en la lectura del antiguo Ritual, el Rituale Romanum, que data de 1614, o, sobre todo, del ritual de 1952, y que en opinión del Padre Amorth “es mucho más eficaz que el actual, y que continúa siendo válido”.

(…) the new exorcists are on the fast track in their study of the “revised Rite of Exorcism”, approved by Pope John Paul II in 1998.

Some of the neo-exorcists have also immersed themselves in the reading of the more ancient rite, the Rituale Romanum, dating back to 1614, or, more commonly, the rite of 1952, which in the opinion of Padre Amorth “is much more efficient than the current one, and continues to be valid.”

The digital media caught on to this news, as one would expect. The website elaborated on the information with sarcasm:

La presencia de exorcistas en las diócesis españolas es bastante escasa (…). Sólo una de cada cuatro dispone de este personal especializado. El potencial de creación de empleo es, por lo tanto, considerable.

Exorcists in the dioceses of Spain are fairly uncommon (…). Only one diocese in four makes this type of specialized personnel available, so the potential for job creation is considerable.

Ligeia responded in this article:

es broma, no?? en serio?? han publicado esto?? … muda, muda me he quedado…

seriously?? they published this?? it's some kind of joke, right??  …i'm speechless, absolutely speechless…

For the most part, internet users found humor in the news, leaving hilarious posts on the original news sites as well as on Twitter. Eleana left this comment on The Huffington Post:

Cardinal Rouco Varela as a ghost hunter. Photo montage published on Twitter by McNultyRulez

Cardinal Rouco Varela as a ghost hunter. Photo montage published on Twitter by McNultyRulez

Desde ya lo advierto: como vea a alguno acercárseme blandiendo crucifijo con la intención de protegerme del Maligno y ser sustraída de su dominio, va a recibir algo más que buenas palabras. Hombre,… no lleva una todos estos años esforzándose por ser dominada por el Maligno para que venga ahora un Rouquenator cualquiera a sustraerme.

I'm warning you right now: if I see some guy come walking up to me waving a cross, trying to protect me from The Prince of Darkness by pulling me out of His Kingdom, that guy will get something he's not expecting. Geez…I've been trying for too long to get the Evil One to dominate me in the first place! I'm not gonna just let some Rouco-nator walk up and yank me away.

On Twitter, salvador serrano offered Monsignor Rouco this advertisement to help him attract qualified exorcists:

@SalvaguitarSs: Se buscan exorcistas para combatir al maligno, horario flexible, fijo más comisiones, vehículo de empresa, con mala leche. #rouco varella

@SalvaguitarSs: WANTED: Exorcist to battle the devil, flexible hours, salary plus commission, company car. Must be a real bastard. #rouco varela

Meanwhile, Luis Carlos Sánchez, José Manuel Ribeiro and Rubén Terrón Sánchez caustically focused on the number of positions the archdiocese is offering:

@oloragasolina: No os metáis con Rouco, que ha creado más puestos de trabajo que Rajoy en todo su mandato. Concretamente, ocho puestos. Sí, de exorcista.

@oloragasolina: Let's not badmouth Rouco; he has created more jobs than Rajoy has during his entire term of office. Eight positions altogether. Okay, so they're for exorcists…so what?  [Mariano Rajoy Brey is the current Prime Minister of Spain.]

@ongdirect: Mira tú la formación que te puede sacar del paro: ¡exorcista! …

@ongdirect: Who knew? Get some training in exorcism and you're back in the job market! …

@Terron67: Nosotros quejándonos de que no hay trabajo y en la Comunidad de Madrid está el pobre Rouco sin exorcistas… #HayTrabajoDeSobra

@Terron67: Here we are complaining about the scarcity of jobs, when in the Community of Madrid poor Rouco is short of exorcists… #HayTrabajoDeSobra

JM Mulet made some ironic remarks about the job description for an exorcist:

@jmmulet: ¿Alguien sabe si los exorcistas de Rouco también son cazavampiros o eso requiere otra titulación?

@jmmulet: Does anyone know if Rouco's exorcists can double as vampire hunters, or would they need extra qualifications for that?

On a more serious note, Agustín Martínez and Paco Herrera commented on the ramifications all of this has for public life:

@Agus_Martinez58: Me quedo más tranquilo sabiendo que Rouco destinará parte de lo que reciba de dinero público a pagar exorcistas. …

@Agus_Martinez58: I can rest so much easier now knowing that Rouco has earmarked a portion of the money he gets from the public purse to pay exorcists. …

‏@PacoHerrera77: La contratación de exorcistas por la Iglesia hace un gran bien a la Marca España. Amén. #saldesucuerpo #exorcistas #empezadporRajoyoAznar

@PacoHerrera77: The Church's hiring of exorcists is doing wonders for Brand Spain. Amen. #saldesucuerpo #exorcistas #empezadporRajoyoAznar

«The Exorcist» movie comes to Moncloa [official residence of the Spanish Prime Minister] to exorcise the government from Rajoy. Photo montage uploaded to Twitter by FelinoTigreton

«The Exorcist» movie comes to Moncloa [official residence of the Spanish Prime Minister] to exorcise the government from Rajoy. Photo montage uploaded to Twitter by FelinoTigreton.

The article from ReligiónenLibertad offers helpful information for potential users: «we have set up a switchboard in the Curia from Monday through Friday, 2:30-5:30 pm.» Ramón speculates on the way this service will function:

@klf129: #rouco creará un teléfono de atención al poseído. Si vomita verde pulse 1, si levita pulse 2, si habla lenguas muertas pulse 3

@klf129: #rouco is going to open a customer service line for the possessed. “If you're vomiting green, press 1. If you're levitating, press 2. If you're speaking in ancient tongues, press 3.”

Quique Chust and franga Díaz have their suspicions about the origins of this entire story:

@quiquechust: Quitadle a Rouco el CD de Tubular Bells, que lo está oyendo del revés..

@quiquechust: Somebody take away Rouco's “Tubular Bells” CD. He's been playing it backwards…

@FrangaDiaz: Rouco Valera dice que en Madrid hacen falta exorcistas. Otro que se pone ciego a porros y encima sin avisar. #fumatablancaRouco

@FrangaDiaz: Rouco Valera says that Madrid needs exorcists. Here's another guy who's constantly high on weed and won't share. #fumatablancaRouco

PATU-SALUD sees the sad reality:

@SanidadEnLucha: RT @livantuan: Despedimos médicos especialistas, contratamos exorcistas. #España

@SanidadEnLucha: RT @livantuan: We're firing medical specialists and hiring exorcists. #España

And Daniel Martín sees the same reality, but with a touch of sarcasm :

@MartinDaniel73: Los #exorcistas nos echarán agua bendita y diremos: “Y yo todo este tiempo pensando que eran gases. Alabado sea el Señor”.

@MartinDaniel73: When these #exorcistas sprinkle their holy water on us, we'll just say, “Wow!…and all this time I thought it was gas. Praise the Lord!”

Manuel García places the archbishop's initiative firmly within a 21st-century context:

@Candeliano: La creación de nuevas plazas de exorcista es una clara apuesta de la iglesia católica por el I+D, en la línea renovadora del Papa Francisco.

@Candeliano: The creation of new posts for exorcists shows the Catholic Church's clear support for I+D [Spain's Research and Development initiative], and lines up with the program of renewal called for by Pope Francis.

The Cardinal Archbishop of Madrid, Monsignor Rouco Varela

The Cardinal Archbishop of Madrid, Monsignor Rouco Varela

It seems certain that this issue carries undertones of a more sinister type. In 2011, the British Medical Journal [En] published the case of a schizophrenic woman in Madrid who had several exorcisms performed on her:

Informamos del caso de una paciente de 28 años, diagnosticada 5 años antes de esquizofrenia paranoide (…) La paciente fue inducida por sacerdotes a creer que sus síntomas psicóticos se debían a la presencia de un demonio. (…) algunos de los sacerdotes pertenecían a la archidiócesis de Madrid y conocían la situación clínica de la paciente; no obstante, creyeron que sufría posesión demoníaca y la sometieron a múltiples exorcismos, alterando su respuesta al tratamiento clínico.

(…) nos sorprende que en el siglo XXI y en Europa, aún existan expertos y clérigos que creen que ciertos tipos de esquizofrenia se deben a la posesión demoníaca.

We reported on the case of a female patient, age 28, who had been diagnosed five years earlier with paranoid schizophrenia (…) The patient was misled by priests to believe that her psychotic symptoms were due to the presence of a demon. (…) some of the priests belonged to the archdiocese of Madrid and were familiar with the patient's clinical condition; nevertheless, they were convinced that she suffered from demonic possession, so they subjected her to multiple exorcisms, theerby altering her response to clinical treatment.

(…) we are surprised that in 21st century Europe there are still experts and clergy alike who actually believe that certain types of schizophrenia are the result of demonic possession.

Manuel Casal expresses his opinion on Casa L:

Ayer nos reíamos con esta ocurrencia de los demonios y los exorcistas. Y es lógico que a estas alturas estas ocurrencias nos hagan reír. Pero hoy más bien me da una mezcla de pena, de miedo y de asco. El daño que pueden hacer en las mentes más débiles es enorme. Desde hace mucho tiempo pienso que estos curas oficiales han perdido la fe. Hoy creo que, además, han perdido la razón.

Yesterday we were laughing about this whole business of demons and exorcists, and it was logical for us to laugh about it at that point. But today, instead of laughing, I have  mixed feelings of sorrow, fear, and disgust. These people can do a great deal of damage to more sensitive individuals. I've thought for a long time that our church officials have lost their faith. Now I think they've also lost their minds.

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