Thursday, December 29, 2005

Mexican exorcisms on the rise

Great. That's just one more problem our border agents don't need... levitation and projectile vomiting. As if the job isn't bad enough.

Dec. 29 (Bloomberg) -- Father Pedro Mendoza Pantoja, the Roman Catholic Church's highest-ranking exorcist in Mexico City, has never been busier.

Mendoza, 70, takes 15 phone calls a day from people who say they are possessed by the devil and sees about five of them for in-office consultations. They're part of the increasing number of Mexicans demanding exorcisms.

"Growing up, I don't remember a single person possessed by a demon,'' Mendoza said from his parish in Cuajimalpa, a town on the outskirts of Mexico City. "Every time a girl gets sick or acts strange, they send her over.''

Mexico is part of a global surge in exorcisms sparked by the Vatican's decision in 1999 to issue a new manual for the process, said Scott Lilienfeld, a professor of psychology at Emory University in Atlanta. Ninety-two percent of Mexico's 106 million people are Catholic.

Now I had thought that the Islamofascist producing countries in the Middle East like Iran were the source of all evil. Apparently it's Mexico.

[...] According to a woman called Rosey, who describes herself as a healer and goes by only one name, people who believe they are possessed also seek out treatment in places such as Mexico City's Sonora Market. The market is a gathering place for such healers, who also sell herbs and candles used in saint worship.

Rosey attributes the demand for demonic expulsions to the rise of infidelity and the breakdown in the Mexican family.

"I've had people come in and ask how much I will charge to kill their husbands,'' she said in an interview in the market.

I don't think the fetching Mrs. Wookie would go for a "the demons made me do it" infidelity excuse... not that I ever plan on finding out...

Rosey said she knows a person is possessed when she touches them and a cold feeling passes through her body that hurts her bones. That's when she performs a "breaking.''

Whoa, whoa, whoa! Hold on a second. Just what, praytell, are we breaking here? If she's looking for a demonic scream, I bet she gets one after a wife brings her cheating husband to her and she "breaks" it off. [UPDATE 12:01pm: Dammit, I just thought of a much funnier Howard Dean weird scream joke for this instead]

Rosey charges anywhere from 100 pesos ($9) for a cleansing to 7,000 pesos for a full exorcism, which involves the burning of herbs and wood and evoking saints such as Elegua, known as the guardian of the crossroads. The Catholic Church doesn't charge for exorcisms.

And she charges for "breaking" some poor cheating bastard!? And it only amounts to $9?! Ouch, talk about adding insult to injury. I don't know what's worse... getting it "broken" or it only being worth $9.

Healers such as Rosey are part of the problem, Father Mendoza said. Many people who are suffering from a mental illness or drug addiction turn to healers, "where they then really do pick up a demonic influence or possession.''

Mendoza said he looks for the tell-tale signs of possession described by the Vatican guidelines, such as speaking in a foreign language the person has "no reason to know'' or being "familiar with events in far away places or in other times.''

As long as it doesn't involve anything breaking, we're OK. Just as a general rule though, I think Mexico is safely off of my list of places to visit.