(CATHOLIC NEWS AGENCY) — Recognizing the difference between a person who's possessed and a person struggling with a mental illness or other infirmity is a vital part of the ministry of exorcism, according to a long-time exorcist and priest.
Father Cipriano de Meo, who has been an exorcist since 1952, told CNA's Italian agency ACI Stampa that typically, a person is not possessed but is struggling with some other illness.
The key to telling the difference, he said, is through discernment in prayer on the part of the exorcist and the possessed – and in the potentially possessed person's reaction to the exorcist himself and the prayers being said.
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The exorcist will typically say “(a) prolonged prayer to the point where if the Adversary is present, there's a reaction,” he said.