Matt C. Abbott
February 14, 2014
'Media fiasco' over Indiana exorcism: diocese
By Matt C. Abbott

In recent days, there's been quite a lot of media attention given to an exorcism that reportedly took place in Indiana in 2012. A mother and her children had been experiencing horrifying preternatural phenomena that were witnessed by several people at different times. A Catholic priest was consulted and ultimately performed an exorcism on the woman.

Even the so-called mainstream media have taken considerable interest in this case. In fact, it was an Indiana newspaper that broke the story. Not something they normally take too seriously.

The priest who performed the exorcism, Father Michael Maginot, is incardinated in the Diocese of Gary. He's pastor of St. Stephen Martyr Church in Merrillville. Father has been interviewed by Fox News personality Bill O'Reilly, various reporters, and has signed movie and documentary deals – all in the last few weeks.

Now, exorcism is a topic I find interesting, but obviously not all Catholics share that interest. Responding to my Oct. 13, 2013 column about the well-known 1949 exorcism case in St. Louis, one reader wrote that he has no use for the "sideshow" aspect of Catholicism.

Fair enough.

Patti Armstrong, a correspondent for the National Catholic Register, recently interviewed Father Maginot. Click here to read her interview. I'm heartened to see that Father Maginot is going to give the money he'll make on the movie deals to charity. That's good! Still, I'm concerned about Father joining forces, so to speak, with Hollywood. Do we really need yet another horror flick about an exorcism, even if it will indeed be "based on a true story"?

At any rate, I was curious about what officials with the Diocese of Gary had to say in response to all the publicity this case has received.

Debbie Bosak, a spokeswoman for the diocese, wrote in an email:
    This media fiasco started last fall. Ever since the beginning, the official position of Bishop Melczek and the diocese has been that an exorcism is a private ministry that carries an expectation of confidentiality. As such, the diocese has not and will not comment or discuss something we consider to be private. The only thing I can confirm is that an exorcism did take place in 2012 and the priest received permission for that specific exorcism but nothing else related to the resulting publicity.
Click here to read my Nov. 30, 2009 column featuring the book Interview with an Exorcist by Father Josť Antonio Fortea.

Click here to read a piece about Springfield, Ill., Bishop Thomas Paprocki's decision late last year to offer public exorcism prayers in response to the onslaught of same-sex marriage.

© Matt C. Abbott

 

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Matt C. Abbott

Matt C. Abbott is a Catholic commentator with a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication, media and theatre from Northeastern Illinois University. He's been interviewed on MSNBC, NPR, WLS-TV (ABC) in Chicago, WMTV (NBC) in Madison, Wis., and has been quoted in The New York Times and the Chicago Tribune. He can be reached at mattcabbott@gmail.com.


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