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Australian Church Makes Excuses for Priest Who Tried to Exorcise Handicapped Girl

 
COLUMN By HEMANT MEHTA

For HumanistNetworkNews.org
May 13, 2010

You could say this headline is misleading:

Priest conducts ‘bizarre' faith healing

This one's "bizarre," as opposed to all the others, which are...?

Anyway, what makes this one stand out is that the priest tried to heal a girl who was mentally and physically disabled.

He tried to get her to walk.

Even the parishioners knew this was crazytalk:

Catherine Roatch, who saw the faith-healing service, said it appeared to be an attempted exorcism.

"He prayed in some gibberish and then started to demand that this girl speak as well as stand up," she said.

"The girl would not have even been able to comprehend, let alone follow instructions. It was very undignified for the young lady and she was just crying, howling at the altar."

The Australian church's excuse?

This particular priest was a foreigner.

Vicar-General of Perth's Catholic Archdiocese Brian O'Loughlin said while the "bizarre and unusual service" was largely due to the priest's mental condition, it highlighted that foreign-trained priests had a more spiritual approach.

Monsignor O'Loughlin said Westerners had a more logical outlook and tended to turn to the spiritual when they could not understand concepts in other ways.

No, no, no, no, no.

There's nothing "logical" about any other faith-healing service, either. Or any other ritual they perform. These people think it's logical to believe Jesus magically inhabits a communion wafer. They don't have any credibility when it comes to thinking logically.

At least they took this priest to a mental hospital. What are they going to do about the other priests who conduct faith-healing services? Are they off the hook?

Part of me has a feeling that the church leaders are just trying to cover their asses. This was a bad idea to begin with, yet no one stopped him as he was performing the exorcism. Can you believe no one even helped the girl as she wailed for "at least 15 minutes" after he was finished? The media found out and now the church is trying to save face. They're not upset that this priest performed the ritual. They're upset it didn't work and that they got caught.

Don't believe me? What do you think their reaction would've been if the girl showed any sign of getting healed?

They would be touting this priest as a saint.

But he failed. As expected. The church is just searching for an excuse now.

Like this one:

Monsignor O'Loughlin said exorcisms were a legitimate part of the Catholic religion but were not allowed in regular services and could only be performed by appointed priests.

Guess what: even if this was not a regular service, and even if it was an "appointed" priest (who would have no more credibility than the one in question), we would've seen the same result.

God doesn't heal amputees. God can't cure cancer. God doesn't fix a disfigured face. This girl's not going to get better because some priest performed a ceremonial ritual. If anything can help her, it's going to come from the world of science.

Why doesn't a priest from that church just apologize for putting this girl through so much trauma? Why not just admit their methods don't work? Why not just say this was all a bad idea and faith-healing should never be done?

Because that would be admitting your beliefs don't match up with reality. That would be confessing you've been wrong this whole time. That's called being honest with yourself. That would take real courage.

So don't expect it anytime soon.

...

By the way, while we're on the subject of exorcisms, reader Stacey brought up the horrific story of 13-month-old Amora Bain Carson.

In 2008, Amora was beaten to death with a hammer. When police found her, she also had bite marks all over her body. The mother, Jessica Carson, stood by and watched while her boyfriend, Blaine Keith Milam, performed an exorcism "to beat the demons out of the child."

They're currently facing the death penalty in Texas.

Regardless of the death penalty issue, just think about this: a mother stood by and saw her child beaten to death and she didn't do anything about it because she thought demons inhabited her child and an exorcism could cure it.

Some churches believe that exorcisms are legitimate. They won't advocate this sort of violence, of course, but there's no "standard" for exorcisms. It's all made up. I'm not saying a particular church is responsible for Amora's death, but churches are perpetuating these lies. When something bad happens as a result, they blame the person performing it or the method in which it was done, not the ridiculous notion at the heart of the entire thing.

 

Hemant Mehta is the Chair of the Secular Student Alliance (SSA) Board of Directors. He has worked with the Center for Inquiry and also is an SSA representative to the Secular Coalition for America. Hemant received national attention, including being featured on the front page of the Wall Street Journal, for his work as the "eBay Atheist." Hemant's blog can be read at FriendlyAtheist.com, and his book, I Sold My Soul on eBay, (WaterBrook Press) is now available on Amazon.com. He currently works as a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago.

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