The New York Times reported that Alexandra Pelosi said, “I think that [the attack on Paul] weighed really heavy on her soul. I think she felt really guilty. I think that really broke her. Over Thanksgiving, she had priests coming, trying to have an exorcism of the house and having prayer services.”
The following day, FOX and Friends Weekend reported that San Francisco Archdiocese reported being unaware of any exorcism at the Pelosi home.
Since everyone is jumping to “Pelosi lied” conclusions, I’d like to clarify this issue. Any Catholic priest can bless a house – i.e., sprinkle holy water around while saying a house blessing with or without deliverance prayers. We had it done fairly recently at Casa Hyphen.
Because this is within a priest’s normal faculties, the local bishop doesn’t need to know about it. It’s only the formal Rite of Exorcism that requires a trained priest who has been designated by his bishop for such work. However, a formal exorcism would not be done simply because somebody asked for it. It’s a deadly serious process that requires a long preliminary process of investigation, interviews, and discernment prayer.
It’s likely that what the NYT said Alexandra said is correct, but she clearly doesn’t understand the nuances of RCC protocols. I had the same conundrum when a relative told me her “probably won’t last through the night” premie triplets were given the Sacraments of Baptism and of Anointing of the Sick (after which they made an astonishing recovery and are now healthy 30+ somethings).
My pastor explained that the babies were certainly baptized, but that the priest would have done Prayers for the Sick, not the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick, because the latter includes and require the Sacrament of Reconciliation, which babies clearly can not and do not need to do.
So, like Alexandra, that mom hadn’t lied to me. She had just misunderstood exactly what the priest had done.