Bishop Ngan says it is not appropriate for the catechism and practice of the Church to claim to 'be seized by devils'
Teresa Nguyen Thi Thuong talks about exorcism in 2021. (Photo supplied)
Bishops in Vietnam have called on people to avoid a banned group of exorcists led by laypeople, saying their practice goes against Catholic teaching.
Bishop John Do Van Ngan, head of the Episcopal Commission for Doctrine of the Faith, said that since 2015 a group of Catholics have mistakenly believed that they are "directly revealed" by the Father, chosen as "secretaries for him" and given a privilege of exorcism. They also attract some priests and religious, making other people blindly follow their wrong path.
The group are from Bao Loc Parish of Da Lat Diocese in Lam Dong province.
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Bishop Ngan accused the exorcists of showing open disobedience to the ordinary of the diocese, damaging the unity of the local church.
The 69-year-old prelate said Bishop Dominic Nguyen Van Manh of Da Lat patiently listens to and advises the group, even disciplining its members.
In 2020, Bishop Manh banned Teresa Nguyen Thi Thuong, a laywoman who leads the group, from attending services and receiving sacraments. The 47-year-old mother of four performs exorcism at her house and attracted many people by video clips for years.
It is Jesus who entrusts his church with spiritual authority against forms of evil domination, he said. Therefore, exorcism must be carefully considered and done wisely according to church teachings
Videos claimed to show some priests and nuns being healed by Thuong and liberated from demonic possession. Many people visit her house, recite the Divine Mercy and the rosary many times and are exorcized by Thuong and her group members.
Bishop Manh also suspended Father Dominic Nguyen Chu Truyen, who joined the group, from administering sacraments and pastoral care.
However, Bishop Ngan said, group members still carry out their activities in other places. The expert in philosophy said Vietnam’s bishops decided to assign his commission to issue a formal announcement to the banned group.
He said anyone who claims to be "directly revealed" by the Father and a "secretary for him" denies Jesus Christ's role and gravely offends the Catholic faith, since Christ is God’s only redeemer and mediator between God and people.
Bishop Ngan said it is not appropriate for the catechism and practice of the Catholic Church to claim to "be seized by devils" and "drive out evil spirits" or to consider "all diseases to be caused by demons" in order to perform exorcisms with superstition and magic.
It is Jesus who entrusts his church with spiritual authority against forms of evil domination, he said. Therefore, exorcism must be carefully considered and done wisely according to church teachings.
He said the faithful need to understand catechism well, show great discernment and closely follow church instructions in order not to be deceived by misconceptions and false practices.
"We earnestly call on all members of the group of exorcists to return to the Catholic Church and live in the spirit of unity that Christ the Shepherd longs for,” Bishop Ngan said.
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