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Angels and demons battle in the sky

The Devil is to be Aerially Assaulted by Flying Exorcist Priest


Waves of violence, corruption and crime in a Columbian city are to be addressed with an audacious exorcism by a Catholic bishop who plans to launch holy water over the city from a helicopter. Seriously, keep reading, this is actually happening.

In 2014, Ancient Origins reported that the Roman Catholic Church was “training up” a new army of exorcists to meet the growing demand to rid people of evil spirits.  The Telegraph wrote at the time that the “Church claims that the “unprecedented rise” in requests for exorcism comes from more people dabbling in the ‘dark arts’ with the help of information found on the internet”.

Now, one of these super-priests, highly-trained in the ancient arts of exorcism, Monsignor Rubén Dario Jaramillo Montoya, bishop of Buenaventura, who was ordained in 2017 by Pope Francis, is planning to use a navy chopper to cover the entire city with holy water “to rid the city of demons”. According to a report in UPI, he told a local radio station “We want to go around the whole of Buenaventura from the air and pour holy water onto it… to see if we exorcise all those demons that are destroying our port.”

In 2014, Buenaventura was identified by a Human Rights Watch report as Colombia’s most dangerous place where criminal gangs rule most of the city’s neighborhoods, where anyone pushing back is dismembered and dumped in the sea. Can ‘holy-water’ really help with such a humanitarian crisis?

Fighting the Devil from Heaven

According to the New York Post, “despite efforts to tackle violence by creating a “humanitarian zone” in the city, Montoya said there have been “51 murders there so far this year”. In response, the highest echelons of the Vatican spent a long time looking at the societal and community problems facing the city and recently announced this could be resolved with a new exorcism training course. And, with the church aiming to rid the city of drug trafficking, Montoya added that by pouring holy water they would “see if so many bad things end and the devil goes out of here.”

The idea that spirits enter our bodies and control us is as old as civilization and archeological evidence indicates its presence in diverse forms in almost all cultures, as far back as ancient Babylonia. The earliest healers were shamans who believed evil spirits invaded people's bodies and ‘exorcism’ evolved as one of the many ancient rituals which attempted to drive the devil, demons, or evil spirits from a person.

The Church first implemented official guidelines for exorcism in the early 17th century, but for many centuries before this when Catholics were believed to be under demonic possession, the Church authorized exorcisms based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church which states: “When the Church asks publicly and authoritatively 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, it is called exorcism.”

An exorcist banishing demons

An exorcist banishing demons (alphaspirit / Adobe Stock)

The Devil Often Rises in Pop-Culture

Before the late 1960s, Roman Catholic exorcisms were almost unheard of in the United States, then a certain mid-1970s movie revived interest in the ritual, causing tens of thousands to claim demonic possession.

The Exorcism was based on the 1928, 14-day long exorcism of Emma Schmidt in Earling, Iowa, performed by Catholic priest Fr. Theophilus Riesinger. After the increase in the reported cases of possession, the Vatican issued new guidelines in 1999 which stated, “the person who claims to be possessed must be evaluated by doctors to rule out a mental or physical illness.”

A 2017 Telegraph article informs that then, there were in Rome and Milan 12 appointed priest-exorcists and that the church had set up an emergency call center. Over the past decade in the US, the number of priest-exorcists has more than quadrupled from 12 to 50, which according to American exorcist, Father Vincent Lampert of the Archdiocese is matching the demand of the people.

Considering the planned ‘aerial exorcism’ in Buenaventura is aimed at ridding the city of drug-traffickers with holy water from helicopters, maybe the funds would be better spent spraying herbicide to eradicate the coca plant? This 2018 DW article explains “Cocaine production is up 20 percent in one of the world's largest producing countries. Colombia's president says drones rather than the previously favored aircraft will spray coca plants to reverse the trend.”

As the Colombian military and government struggle to find funds to spray the core problem, the church blow cash into the air attempting to tackle the symptom, but they should be aware that never in history has a band-aid ever cured a tumor.

Top image: Angels and demons battle in the sky. (breakermaximus / Adobe Stock)

By Ashley Cowie

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Ashley is a Scottish historian, author, and documentary filmmaker presenting original perspectives on historical problems in accessible and exciting ways.

He was raised in Wick, a small fishing village in the county of Caithness on the north east coast of... Read More

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