One of the amusing rites in the Christian church is the “casting out of demons” procedure, which has recently become a real hit: crowds of people gather to stare at this spectacle, photographs and videos on this topic massively circulate on the Web and, in fact, are a magical procedure, not having nothing to do with the teachings of Christ. It is not surprising, therefore, that the ROC is concerned about this problem.
Three years ago, the Commission on Theology of the Russian Orthodox Church began work on a document that regulates the practice of "casting out demons," or exorcism. In the spring of 2021, this, one must understand the most responsible and thorough work, was announced by RIA Novosti. The head of the Department for External Church Relations (DECR) of the Moscow Patriarchate, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, said then that the relevant document had already been prepared: “The practice of exorcism does not exist in all local churches. The document contains the history of this practice, dating back to apostolic times, and proposals for its unification and regulation…”
However, only at the end of last week on the official website of the Russian Orthodox Church, this document was finally made public, and even then, only for discussion by “everyone”. This is a kind of seven-page regulation on how exactly you need to do an exorcism.
Among other things, it says: “The Church considers the possession of evil spirits as a special condition, which, for various reasons, can be allowed by God. Without God's permission, demon possession, like any bodily and mental infirmities, cannot touch a person ... "
But the most curious thing is that after the adoption of this regulation, it is forbidden for priests to take money for exorcisms from demon-possessed:
“Abuse of the perpetrators is mainly associated with the unauthorized way of its execution, and sometimes also with selfish motives. In some cases, when performing the rite of exorcism, the sick are subjected to humiliation or psychological violence, which is unacceptable. Abuses of this type include mass "reprimands" with the involvement of outside "spectators", as well as photo and video recording with subsequent public distribution of records and photographs. (…)
The performer of the rite of exorcism can only be a bishop or a priest who has received the blessing of the ruling bishop for this.
Neither the exorcist nor his hierarchs (abbot of the monastery, etc.) should expect bribes for performing the rite ... "
Moreover, priests will also have to learn the basics of psychiatry, since they will be able to exorcise demons “only in case of demonic possession,” and not in mental patients:
“Exorcism is used only in case of demonic possession. It is necessary to distinguish possession from mental illness, mental disorder and unhealthy religiosity.
Exorcism should not be used in cases of mental disorders and diseases. (…) In the case of a diagnosed mental illness, a Christian can and should be treated by specialized specialists. In this regard, the clergy are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the basics of psychiatry, so that, if necessary, they can refer a parishioner in need of help for a consultation with a psychiatrist.
It is unacceptable to perform the rite of exorcism on people who feign possession and are not actually possessed ... "
However, all these regulations in Russia, as you know, by no means abolish abuses, it’s just that the services of priests in “casting out demons” will become somewhat more expensive...