How should a news service like CWN, dedicated to providing a Catholic perspective on current events, handle a story like this one, about a reported exorcism in Gary, Indiana?
It is a complicated story, with a very confused religious background. There are hints of dabbling in the occult, charges of neglect, and state intervention. Yet there are also reports, confirmed by independent witnesses, of levitation and inhuman movement and a bizarre injuries and a host of incidents that seem to defy the laws of physics. What makes the story particularly interesting is the fact that many secular observers, including police officials, welfare workers, and journalists apparently became convinced that a family suffered from demonic possession.
The story from Indiana, reminiscent of the film The Exorcist, has the potential to break through the wall of skepticism that ordinarily blocks public discussion of the supernatural. Yet it is a dangerous story to handle, for two reasons. First, because it could easily rouse an unhealthy interest in “spooky” mystical affairs, rather than a healthy interest in genuine religious belief. Second, because the story may be based on misunderstanding or hysteria or fraud.
I wish the priest had worn his Roman collar for interviews!