Thanks for the reply.
Yes, I agree that it is a good idea to leave it to the experts. However, isn't that really the problem, that there are no experts to handle it?
In Europe, for example, there are entire countries without one exorcist to help the population. (Italy is an exception.)
In America, I think there are something like maybe 30 exorcists in the entire country (and I may be overestimating). That would not be enough to handle one state, let alone all the states "from sea to shining sea."
To further emphasize the problem, many priests and even bishops today do not believe in the devil, demonic obsession, oppression, possession, etc. In fact, most of them want nothing to do with it and want to send anyone who complains of such phenomenon packing to a shrink and to never come back.
Yet reports of such cases appear to be on the rise based on reports in the news.
So who is going to handle all of this?
And what really has me concerned is the sheer volume of people who are not educated about it.
For example, take a lay person suffering from such phenomenon who goes to a priest that does not believe in it, and there is no exorcist anywhere within a 200 mile radius. The priest may send them to a shrink, who will diagnose them, and then they spend years trying to get therapy.
Yet the problem with this is that, as some exorcists have said, the longer the problem persists the more the demon "attaches" and is harder to get rid of. The case of Anelise Michel is a case in point - for years she was sent to shrinks until the exorcisms were started, and they could not rid her of the troubles and she eventually died.
Yet had they started much sooner, could she have been saved? The demons would have been far less attached, and maybe easier to rid her of.
And even amongst the experts, there are major disagreements. For example, Fr. Armoth says that he finds it a waste of time to wait through shrinks but would rather perform the exorcism, and he can tell in 20 minutes if the case is real or not.
20 minutes versus weeks, months, years of psychoanalysis only to end up having a demon more attached than ever and harder to rid seems wise to me, but many of the "experts" cannot even agree on that. Many say they would rather have the patient spend all that time seeking therapy first.
With the rise of the occult, and cases of possession, and a lack of experts amongst us generally, I think it is a good idea for the laity to be more well educated on the matter and able to recognize the signs.
Then, if they have a friend, colleague, relative, or even if they find themselves in the situation, and end up before a rationalist priest who has lost his faith and has no expert knowledge himself, the laity will have the ability to know something is wrong and continue seeking someone with better knowledge. Not that they want to be prideful and think they know all, but they should at least be knowledgeable enough to know which direction the signs seem to be pointing so they can sift out the good vs. the bad advice they may receive.
Also, it is good for the laity to be educated because we also have a responsibility to our priests, just as they have one to us. And if they are failing to uphold their priestly ministry by recognizing evil exists and educating themselves to be prepared to handle it, then perhaps the laity need to be able to educate the priests in a sense and help point them in the right direction.
It is a real problem that is on the rise in our culture. The bishops and priests are not responding to the call to have an exorcist in every diocese, and more than most do not even want to educate themselves on such problems. I think this calls for further education on the part of the laity to change the tide.