5X5 Episode 7

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5X5 Episode 7
A Center for Exorcism
17th February 2008

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5X5 6 5X5 8
Skeptical Rogues
S: Steven Novella
R: Rebecca Watson
B: Bob Novella
J: Jay Novella
E: Evan Bernstein
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The panel discusses a proposed center for exorcism in Poland.

A Center for Exorcism[edit]

You're listening to the Skeptics' Guide 5x5, five minutes with five skeptics, with Steve, Jay, Rebecca, Bob and Evan.

S: This is the SGU 5x5, five minutes with five skeptics, the topic for today is exorcism on the rise in Europe. Reverend Trojanowski is planning on building a 'quote-unquote' spiritual oasis in Poczernin, Poland. Essentially a centre dedicated to performing exorcisms. He says that such a things is necessary to meet the rising demand for exorcism in Europe.

R: Now that’s funny, because I don’t recall hearing of anybody dying of demons recently, but I have heard of a number of people dying from exorcism, so…

J: (laughter)

S: Dying from exorcisms, that’s right.

E: And here’s what one of their people say as to why: "it’s because people don’t pray anymore, they don’t go to church, they don’t go to confession. There’s a lot more devil-worship, people interested in satanic things, and seances, and less in Jesus."

S: Yeah, devil worship has been on the rise for a long time, and yet there’s still is actually no evidence that there is any actual Satan worship going on anywhere.

J: Wait, Evan he also said new age therapies, alternative religions, or the occult.

S: Yeah, and they specifically mentioned yoga. Apparently, doing yoga opens you up to demonic possessions.

J: Oh also, internet addicts. As well.

B: Ahh! We're in trouble.

E: Yeahh (laughs) that's what it says in...

S: That’s using the internet...

B: Now, it's also important to note, I think, that these aren’t just some rogue exorcists either. The article that we will have on the page says that with the blessing of the local catholic Archbishop and theological support from the Vatican[1]

S: Ah-hm.

B: I went to a Vatican website, and grabbed some more articles, and did some translations from Italian, and I’ve found actually the new rite of exorcism that came out in 1999, this was an official presentation of Cardinal Medina Estevez, which is basically from the… the holy press-room I guess you would call it. It said that it stressed that to carry out the exorcism it’s necessary authorization from the diocese bishop; and then a few years later in 2001 I found a bulletin of the synod of bishops – a synod is a council of a church, usually a Christian church, convened to decide an issue of doctrine – now in this synod it said “to fight against evil, and the evil one…” now I could be wrong here, but I think he means Voldemort, “we must organize at the diocese and inter-diocese level, teams of pious, prudent, cultured, and integrated priests to practice exorcism and prayer to obtain healing from God”. So, this is all sanctioned. And as long as you have the okay from a bishop it appears, of the diocese, you’re good to go.

S: So what’s driving all of this? Is there actually an increased belief amongst the public in exorcism, or in demonic possession, you know, leading to more people believing they’re possessed? Or, is this just the church, you know, desperately looking for some reason for some existence, reason to exist?

E: The latter.

B: The latter.

S: As their numbers dwindle.

J: Steve, or they’re just trumping up these things, you know, people come with problems or whatever. Like this one woman she just redid her wedding vows and two weeks later she was having some serious problems with her husband, and they said that she was possessed, and they performed an exorcism on her because she was having marital problems.

S: Right. Now the protestants especially, and many of the fundamentalist churches, are a little more casual about the whole exorcism thing – they don’t need approval from higher up. And their doing exorcisms for all kinds of things. Like, gambling – if you have gambling problems, we’ll exorcise the demon of gambling that you have in you; overeating – you’re possessed by a demon of gluttony. There’s a demon for, you know, pretty much everything, anything that ails you.

E: One stop-shop for demons!

J: This is kinda like the thing where they gave all the kids an award, you know, when there’s some kind of contest, or an athletic thing at school. Like, there’s no losers anymore. Nothing is your fault anymore. You're fat, it’s not your fault. You’re stupid, it’s not your fault.

S: It does all sound a little bit desperate on their part, just trying to grasp at anything to, you know, convince the world that they are necessary.

R: Ahh... the actual problem is not demonic possessions, it is exorcisms. And I encourage everybody who hasn’t seen it yet, check out what's the harm dot net and you can see a whole list of the terrible things that happen when people decide to do exorcisms.

S: SGU 5x5 is a companion podcast to the Skeptics' Guide to the Universe, a weekly science podcast brought to you by the New England Skeptical Society in association with skepchick.org. For more information on this and other episodes, visit our website at www.theskepticsguide.org. Music is provided by Jake Wilson.


  1. Washington Post: Ritual of Dealing With Demons Undergoes a Revival
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