Bishop Joseph Bonnemain of the Diocese of Chur has concluded that ‘it is not necessary to try to find mysterious causes’ for alleged cases of demonic possession.
The Diocese of Chur in German-speaking Switzerland has decided to do without an exorcist from now on, after having left the position vacant for almost three years.
This decision — announced Nov. 24 by Bishop Joseph Bonnemain on the regional radio station SRF Ostschweiz — marks a turning point in the history of the diocese, which has long been known as a central place in Europe for exorcisms.
In his radio interview, the bishop of Chur claimed that “it is not necessary to try to find mysterious causes” for alleged cases of demonic possession, which he described as a psychological and social distress. According to Bishop Bonnemain, who is a former doctor and hospital chaplain, “classic solutions” of a “medical, psychological and psychotherapeutic” nature are to be favored for these people facing “difficult social, professional or health situations.”
“We are all human beings with strengths and weaknesses who have a hard time in life from time to time,” he said.
The Swiss bishop’s stance conflicts with the Church’s teaching that demonic possession is a concrete reality, which can require recourse to an exorcism to expel the influence of demonic spirits.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines an exorcism as the public and authoritative request of the Church, “in the name of Jesus Christ, that a person or object be protected against the power of the Evil One and withdrawn from his dominion” (1673).
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