‘Catholic Demon-Making’

Huffington Post

May 13th, 2014 by 
Mat Schmalz

With exorcism making headlines—the Vatican just concluded its annual conference on exorcism and the satanic ‘black Mass’ at Harvard University was canceled due to protest—Mathew Schmalz, associate professor of religious studies at the College of the Holy Cross, wrote an op-ed for the Huffington Post about his experiences evicting demons.

He writes: “Professionally and personally, I do know something about exorcism.   I even performed an exorcism myself—albeit under duress.  Twenty-years ago, I was doing my Ph.D. research among Catholic faith healers in India.  I was recording an exchange between a Catholic exorcist and a possessed woman, when the exorcist left the room and pointed to me saying, ‘he’ll finish the job.’  Not knowing what else to do, I laid hands on the woman, who subsequently barked like a dog and then gave me a smile before she left the room.”

“I wrote about this incident for an academic journal — not to hang out my shingle as the professor who deals with devils, but to explore a dilemma common to anthropologists who become entangled with their research in unexpected and sometimes disturbing ways,” he continues. “But as much as I took an academic perspective on the incident, I did feel at once empowered and embarrassed; empowered because I felt connected — embarrassed because it all seemed so crazy.”

This “Holy Cross in the News” item by Cristal Steuer.

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