2020-11-05 10:40:00

Russian Orthodox Church warns against danger of unsanctioned exorcism

Moscow, November 5, Interfax - A post on the Internet about a ten-year-old boy in the Volgograd Region having been "rid of demons" by his parents prompted the Russian Orthodox Church to state the unacceptability of this kind of exorcism.

"Deciding arbitrarily that someone, especially a child, is possessed by an evil spirit, let alone trying without sanction to rid them of the demons is dangerous and harmful," Vladimir Legoyda, Chairman of the Synodal Department for Church, Society and Media Relations, wrote on his Telegram account.

A video published on social media on Monday evening showed the parents using garlic, icons and holy water to "evict evil spirits" from their child while apparently trying to prevent him from moving.

In the tradition of the ancient Church, there was indeed the practice of evicting demons (exorcism), which was conducted by an experienced priest in exceptional cases and with the blessing of a ruling bishop, Legoyda said.

"Unfortunately, these days there is a common misconception that the evicting of demons is a panacea from all life problems such as drinking, not doing homework. This, alas, is being used, not unsuccessfully, by all kinds of pseudo-elders to satisfy the need not for spiritual guidance but for what effectively is a magical ritual in order to 'solve' all problems at once," Legoyda said.

In his view, the couple in the video should seek professional medical assistance to determine the child's mental health condition, and advice from an experienced pastor.

"No matter what the circumstances, it is extremely unethical to make a show of human suffering, especially a child's one, and whether they have a psychic or spiritual illness does not matter at all," Legoyda said.