The first official English-language translation of a ritual book on exorcisms has been released by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, detailing practices that get rid of demons and prayers against the "powers of darkness."
"Given that there's less facility in Latin than there used to be, even among priests, it opens the door to more priests to do this. Until now, not only did the priest have to be wise and holy, but he also had to have strong facility in Latin," Fr. Andrew Menke, executive director of the USCCB's Secretariat of Divine Worship, told Catholic News Service on Tuesday.
"It makes it easier for a priest who might otherwise be a good exorcist but who would be intimidated by a requirement to use a Latin text. Having it available in the vernacular means he can concentrate on prayer and on the ritual, without needing to worry about working in another language," he added.
The ritual book, titled Exorcisms and Related Supplications, was made available online on the USCCB website.
"This small pocket-sized book will assist the Christian faithful in their struggle against the infernal enemy. It is a powerful treasury of prayers of praise and supplication to Almighty God and prayers invoking the intercession of the saints," a description on the site reads.
The book includes prayers to God for protections, invocations to the Holy Trinity and to Jesus Christ, as well as to the Virgin Mary and the Archangel Michael.
"Prayers Against the Powers of Darkness contains the complete text of 'Supplications Which May Be Used by the Faithful Privately in Their Struggle Against the Powers of Darkness,' which is Appendix II of Exorcisms and Related Supplications, the ritual book used by exorcists," it adds.
The original Latin version of the book stems from the rite revised following the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s.
The Vatican approved the USCCB's efforts in relation to the English translation earlier this year.
Menke, who is not an exorcist himself, said that the prayers in the book can also benefit the person seeking an exorcism.
"The first and foremost reason for an exorcism is to rid the person of the demon. And whether the person understands what's being said or not is irrelevant on one level. They just want to be free of this oppression," he continued.
"But at the same time, exorcists have told me that for some people it can be a big help to hear words that they understand, words that are consoling, words that remind them of the power of Christ over the demons. There's a certain confidence that comes from hearing these words," he said.
Catholic law allows priests who have received permission from their bishops to carry out an exorcism, and only after proper training.
Two of America's most active exorcists said last year that there is a growing demand for their services as a result of more unchurched Americans seeking help with demonic oppression, possession and other dark spiritual activity.
"We're gaining all sorts of knowledge but there's still that emptiness within us that is being filled with addictive behavior such as drugs and pornography," Father Vincent Lampert of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, said at the time.
"There's a line in the Old Testament that says when one grows in knowledge one also grows in despair. The decline in faith goes hand-in-hand with the rise in evil," he added.
In March, Pope Francis urged priests to "not hesitate" to refer penitents to exorcists in the face of "genuine spiritual disturbances."
"Discernment allows us always to distinguish, rather than confuse, and to never tar all with the same brush. Discernment educates our outlook and our heart, enabling that delicacy of spirit that is so necessary before those who open up the shrine of their own conscience, to receive light, peace and mercy," Francis told priests attending a course on confession organized by the Apostolic Penitentiary.