Excerpts of an article published on The Daily Beast by Barbie Latza on March 19, 2017
On Friday, in an address to a group of priests at a Vatican workshop meant to bolster the skillset of a good confessor, Francis told them they “should not hesitate” to call on a Vatican-trained exorcist should they need one.
Cautioning on the common confusion between mental illness and true demon possession, he said priests should first consult psychiatric specialists, but not to rule out exorcism as a form of treatment. “When the confessor becomes aware of the presence of genuine spiritual disturbances, he must not hesitate to refer the issue to exorcists.
The Catholic Church teaching makes the distinction. “Exorcism is directed at the expulsion of demons or to the liberation from demonic possession through the spiritual authority Jesus entrusted to his Church,” according to the Catholic Catechism. “Illness, especially psychological illness, is a very different matter; treating this is the concern of medical science. Therefore, before an exorcism is performed, it is important to ascertain that one is dealing with the presence of the Evil One, and not an illness.”