US Catholic bishops have released an official English-language translation of a long-standing ritual guide to exorcisms.
The book, Exorcisms and Related Supplications is limited to bishops, though exorcists, other clergy, scholars and seminary professors also can obtain a copy with the permission of a bishop, according to the Catholic News Service (CNS).
Fr Andrew Menke, the executive director of the US Catholic Bishops' Conference Secretariat of Divine Worship, said that having it available now in English 'should make it easier for a bishop to find a priest who can help him with this ministry'.
Menke told CNS: '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.
'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.'
The translation came from the rite that was revised following the Second Vatican Council. It was made widely known in Latin in 1999, and then slightly amended in 2004. The revised text draws from rituals used by the Catholic Church for centuries.
The US bishops approved the English translation at its general assembly in autumn 2014, and the Vatican issued its 'recognitio,' or approval, of the translation earlier this year.
Menke, who is not an exorcist, pointed out that hearing prayers in English can help with 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 said.
'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.'
For others however, hearing the exorcism rite carried out in Latin can also be consoling, Menke added, because the person 'knows this is the prayer of the Church'.
The exorcist ultimately chooses which language to use during the rite.
The text affirms the reality of evil in the world and also affirms the sovereignty of Jesus to overcome any and all evil.
Under Catholic canon law, only those priests who receive permission from their bishops can perform an exorcism after proper training.
Bishops, meanwhile, automatically have the right to perform an exorcism and can share that authority with other priests.
Most of the book is for the use of exorcists, but it also contains an appendix of prayers that anyone can use entitled, Supplications Which May Be Used by the Faithful Privately in Their Struggle Against the Powers of Darkness.
The appendix has been printed in a separate booklet, Prayers Against the Powers of Darkness, offered for sale by US bishops' publishing arm.
'The book is meant to facilitate a very reflective kind of prayer,' Menke said. 'It's not something you read like prose. It's meant to be a meditative, patient, trusting, quiet sort of prayer.'