BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Exorcising the devil.  We see it in the movies, but is it happening in real life?

In a WJZ exclusive, Adam May has the shocking answer with a Baltimore connection.

The recent movie “The Rite” soared to the top of the box office.  Audio recordings of real exorcisms are a YouTube sensation and have been heard by almost 20 million people.  But the ancient religious practice isn’t just entertainment; it’s expanding in real life.

Father Joe Cocucci is one of the mid-Atlantic’s newest exorcists.  He and dozens of other priests from around the country met at a Baltimore hotel for two days, learning how to perform the rite, an hour of prayer and commands.

“If you want to look at the many weapons we have against the evil spirit, you could say the rite of exorcism is the nuclear bomb,” Cocucci said.

It’s been widely reported that Pope Benedict wants an exorcist available in every archdiocese.

“I encountered a man on the street who I was convinced was being afflicted by an evil spirit,” he said.  “He was cursing God in a loud voice; his arms were flailing.  I began to say under my breath, `Leave this man alone.  Why do you pick on the weaklings?’ When I said, `Cast thee out,’ he looked at me and said, `OK, man, peace’ and he walked away.”

A Maryland case even made its way to Hollywood. The 1974 movie “The Exorcist” is actually based on real events involving a teenage boy who lived in Prince George’s County in 1949. 

Cocucci said the events in that movie are realistic.

“Probably with the exception of the head spinning around, all of the other things exorcists have documented at different times,” he said.

But how can you tell the difference between demon possession and mental illness?

“Speaking languages other than their own that they wouldn’t learn, knowledge of events that they would have no way of knowing and superhuman strength have traditionally been things to look for,” he said.

Cocucci says modern exorcisms are only done in the U.S. after medical evaluations.  He says he’s ready to face evil head on.

“I have nothing to be afraid of.  The demons have something to be afraid of, and not because of me but because of Him,” he said.

The American Psychiatric Association views demonic possession as a mental illness, triggered by disorders such as schizophrenia, psychosis or hysteria.

Comments (14)
  1. T says:

    WestNorthAve – A pagan religioun is defined as one that isn’t Christian, like Robin states. Christianity predates the Catholic church. So your statement doesn’t make sense.

  2. T says:

    Further, exorcisms are also performed in the Jewish and Islam religions, so it’s not exclusive to Christians or the Catholic Church.

  3. WestNorthAve says:

    Read more carefully T i never stated Christianity did not predate the Catholic Church. I said the Rites to Exorcism predated the Catholic church and if you consider the Catholic Church Christian LOL thats highly debateable, but a whole other topic in itself.

    1. Mike says:

      You clearly don’t have a clue as to what you are talking about. Go back to grad school. And by the way, the exorcism rites are not older than the Catholic Church. Stop reading the da Vinci Code.

  4. Jeff Harris says:

    Oh please, WJZ! Report the news, not some part of a 2000 old fairytale!

  5. Jeff says:

    The music is a bit corny when he starts describing the possession lol

  6. Galileo says:

    The Catholic Church should exorcise itself before it has the audacity to claim that it can oust mythical demons..Pope Benedict has serious mental health issues and needs to be institutionalized. It’s obvious that the Church is losing money and parishoners, so they’re once again using scare tactics to attempt to bring people back into the fold. A little too late . Whose gonna believe pedophiles?

    1. wwjd says:

      I agree with Galileo. By the way, there should really be an 11th commandment: “Thou shalt not molest children.” For some reason, the church hierarchy thinks it’s okay to turn the other way when it comes to molesting children. Now if it were written in stone on one of those tablets . . .

  7. wwjd says:

    In early February, NBC covered a story on a priest in Florida who performed exorcisms and then admitted that he had inappropriate sexual contact with several of the women he was “exorcising”. I invite everyone to do an internet search using key words “exorcist, anti abortion, priest, and Florida”. I’m just surprised the news about the Florida priest hasn’t spread like wildfire. . . And then CBS airs this???

  8. M says:

    Well it looks like everyone who have posted so far have no idea what their talking about so maybe you need to read about the Roman Catholic church before you start running your mouth.

    1. RCC says:

      Thank you, M, for calling a spade a spade.

  9. P says:

    Wow…I have no other words to describe the inaccurate, predjudical and hate filled words that are coming out of the mouths of you people…I’m sad…I will pray for each and every one of you…

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