In the wake of publishing the first English translation of the Church’s ritual for exorcism, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is now bringing out a new booklet called Prayers Against the Powers of Darkness.
The bishops released a letter saying the book collects “prayers drawn from the appendix of the first official English-language translation of the ritual book on the rite of Exorcism.”
The booklet will be available on the conference’s online bookstore.
The executive director of the bishops’ Secretariat of Divine Worship, Father Andrew Menke, says that the idea of the release is for the benefit of people who would like assistance with these prayers.
“The book is meant to facilitate a very reflective kind of prayer. It’s meant to be a meditative, patient, trusting, quiet sort of prayer,” says Menke.
Alongside Prayers Against the Powers of Darkness, the committee is also releasing the first official translation of the ritual book, Exorcisms and Related Supplications. However, the ritual book will not be available to the general public. Only bishops and those who “have a legitimate use for it” will be able to get a copy, such as scholars and seminary professors.
Also, of course, exorcists themselves would belong on that list.
Menke says, “Some priests might not be all that comfortable using a Latin text, so having it available in the vernacular now means they can concentrate on prayer and on the ritual, without needing to worry about working in another language.”
One of the reasons for the release is to enable “bishops to find priests who can help them with this important ministry,” says Menke. He believes that for some people hearing the actual prayers in their language, in this case English, could benefit someone who needs an exorcism.
These rituals have been used by the Catholic Church over the centuries, and the translation uses the rite that came out after Vatican II. In the end, however, each exorcist can decide for himself which language he uses.
The bishops’ letter about the release of these books notes that Canon 1172 says that “only those priests who receive permission from their bishops can perform an exorcism, after proper training.”
All bishops can perform them, and they can share their authority with priests at their discretion.
The letter concludes by saying that all of the texts confirm “the reality of evil in the world, but above all, affirms the sovereignty of Jesus to overcome any and all evil on a personal level and in the world.”