• Germany's news in English
 

German Catholics bring back exorcism

Published: 21 May 2008 17:56 GMT+02:00

The Archdiocese of Paderborn in the German state of North Rhine-Westfalia said on Monday that church officials had commissioned three exorcisms in the past eight years, most recently in 2003.

"It's a plea to God for help," archdiocese spokesman Ägidius Engel told German news agency DPA, saying that the people affected were "people experiencing the deepest of spiritual suffering."

Engel told DPA that church officials commisioned exorcisms - a ritual to drive out evil spirits - only after examination by pastoral counselors and psychiatrists had found the affected people to be free of mental illness. Paderborn officials received 18 serious requests since 1999 for exorcism from people who believed themselves to be possessed by the devil, he said.

"It is a normal, but rare event," Engel told DPA, adding that church officials required a doctor to be present. "In such difficult cases we can only become involved with medical assistance."

The announcement came after Bavarian radio station Bayerischer Rundfunk reported on Monday that church officials in Paderborn and the Bavarian city of Augsburg had commissioned exorcisms. The radio station said it had information showing that Augsburg Bishop Walter Mixa had ordered the practice.

In a statement, Mixa spokesman Christoph Goldt declined to comment on which priests had performed exorcisms and in how many cases, citing pastoral confidentiality. He described exorcisms as rare cases governed by strict church rules updated most recently in 1999 by Pope John Paul II.

"Exorcism does not have anything to do with spectacular movie cliches," Goldt said in the statement, describing it as a prayer to deliver believers from evil similar to the words said at a baptism.

Though German-born Pope Benedict XVI has supported wider use of exorcism in the Catholic Church, his countrymen have retreated from the practice since Anneliese Michel, a student from the Bavarian town of Klingenberg am Main, starved to death after undergoing dozens of exorcisms in 1976.Her parents and the two priests who performed the exorcisms were found guilty in 1978 of contributing to her death through negligence.

Jörg Müller, a theologian and therapist at the Pallotti House in Freising, told The Local he was not aware until this week of any officially sanctioned exorcisms since the Michel case.

Müller differentiated between exorcisms and what he called a "cleansing prayer," a more general plea for help and rescue that is not directed at any specific evil spirit. He said only a few of the some 350 people who contacted his centre last year with concerns about evil spiritual influences qualified for the therapy.

Most of the people who came to the centre asking for help with evil spirits needed other medical or psychological assistance, he said, adding that most had been emotionally or sexually abused as children.

"You see more exorcisms in eastern, southern countries. They believe more in demons," Müller said. "If this ritual was ever to be used in Germany again, it could only be done in a team and under the strictest supervision."

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Today's headlines
Far left activists attack immigration office
Photo: DPA

Far left activists attack immigration office

Far-left extremists attacked an immigration office in Leipzig early on Friday morning. It was the second targeted attack on an official building in the city in recent months. READ  

Steinmeier: Armenia wasn't genocide
Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier. Photo:DPA

Steinmeier: Armenia wasn't genocide

Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier insisted on Friday that calling Armenian massacres genocide risks belittling the Holocaust, after President Joachim Gauck broke a taboo by using the word on Thursday. READ  

Schumacher Jr launches Formula race career
Mick Schumacher on test day earlier in April. Photo: DPA

Schumacher Jr launches Formula race career

Michael Schumacher's 16-year-old son starts his Formula Four career this weekend, under the pressure of living up to the famous family name of the seven-time Formula One world champion. READ  

Property of the week
In Pictures: The Local's Property of the Week
Photo: Mr Lodge

In Pictures: The Local's Property of the Week

A highly sought-after location, great connection to public transport, and a very stylish interior – Does that sound good to you? Then you’ll love this week’s property! READ  

Germany's most polluted cities
The sun rises behind a coal-burning power station in Lower Saxony. Photo: DPA

Germany's most polluted cities

The Federal Environment Ministry has named the most polluted places around the country, with Stuttgart claiming the undesirable title of Germany's most polluted city. READ  

Göring's daughter fails in bid to win father's assets
Edda Göring photographed in 1942. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Göring's daughter fails in bid to win father's assets

The Bavarian government rejected on Thursday an attempt by Hermann Göring's daughter to win back her father's assets, which the government seized in 1948. READ  

Tugce accused admits to delivering fatal blow
Tugce Albayrak's death shocked Germany. Photo:DPA

Tugce accused admits to delivering fatal blow

When 22-year-old Tugce Albayrak was fatally beaten in a MacDonald's car park in November 2014, Germany was left in a state of shock. On the first day of her attacker's trial he admits to 'boxing her on the ear.' READ  

Prosecutors want info on spies' help to US
Gerhard Schindler, head of the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), Germany's foreign intelligence agency. Photo: DPA

Prosecutors want info on spies' help to US

Federal prosecutors have asked for access on files from the Bundestag (German parliament) inquiry into mass surveillance, after news that German spies helped the US eavesdrop on European leaders and businesses. READ  

Greece bailout
Merkel and Tsipras tight-lipped on Brussels talks
Chancellor Merkel and Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras. Photo:DPA

Merkel and Tsipras tight-lipped on Brussels talks

Chancellor Merkel and Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras met in Brussles on Thursday in what the Chancellor described as “constructive” talks. READ  

Mediterranean migrant crisis
EU leaders triple rescue mission funds
EU leaders meet for migration summit in Brussels on April 23rd. Photo: DPA.

EU leaders triple rescue mission funds

Chancellor Angela Merkel pledged to send two navy ships for search and rescue efforts as EU leaders agreed on a plan in Brussels on Thursday to curb the soaring number of migrants dying as they seek a better life in Europe. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Gallery
German beer day: take the tour
Features
Off to Norway at 18 km/hour
Shutterstock
Sponsored Article
10 things you didn’t know about Zagreb (and why you should go)
Gallery
The smileys Germans love to text
Sponsored Article
What expat parents should ask before choosing a school
National
Expats face Monday deadline to register to vote for UK election
Politics
A Greek learning politics in Germany
Features
The battle of the "Gates of Berlin"
National
Germany's favourite baby names of 2014
National
Germany's 'very poor' lobbying record
National
VIDEO: Mario Draghi suffers anti-ECB confetti attack
Politics
Merkel's 15 years at the top of German politics
Features
Spice up asparagus season with The Local's serving suggestions
Travel
Lowest of the low: how woman exploited Germanwings crash
Sport
Football and the €30,000 firework
Technology
Why scientists oppose killer robots
National
Germanwings co-pilot 'searched suicide info'
Technology
Electrifying 'Ostalgia'
National
Which city is Germany's worst for drivers?
National
'Cannibal cop' gets 8 years
Can the 'nightmare' of a pilot downing a plane be prevented?
National
LIVE: Co-pilot suspected of crashing plane
Pupils mourn lost classmates
National
Freed after 25 years on death row
National
Cologne Cathedral returns from space
Features
Paddy's Day, Berlin style
Is your workload 'out of control'? You're not alone...
National
Why east Germans are happy to get it on on camera
National
What would you do with a 250-year-old pretzel?
Features
Just why is the German flag Schwarz, Rot, Gold?
Business & Money
Getting German workers and bosses thinking positive
National
Uplifting thoughts to get you through the last week of winter
National
Who wants the Olympics more - Hamburg or Berlin?
National
Last-minute drama of Germany's Eurovision 2015 entry
National
German photographer takes world's top prize
Features
Meet the woman getting Germans to drink more – and better – beer
Gallery
Get inspired for International Women's Day with German heroes
Green party proposes first-ever cannabis legalization plan
Gallery
In pictures: Germany's seven most livable cities
National
Singapore canes Germans for train graffiti
Politics
Surprise! Germans love feeling like they run the EU
Politics
Anger over plan to show women what men earn
Travel
Munich tram fans bicker over new bell
Features
Kafka: puzzling translators 100 years on
Business & Money
France or Germany: Which country really is the best country to work in?
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

7,225
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd