It’s finally happened—the Rite of Exorcism is now only a phone call away. In 1999, the Vatican issued the first revision of the rite since 1614. Having dealt with regulated documents in the pharmaceutical industry, I wonder if the 1614 version of the rite had finally accumulated so many planned and unplanned deviations over 385 years that management was at last convinced to revise the document. Where I come from, revision or review of SOPs was on a mandatory two year schedule, so the Vatican is functioning under some pretty questionable practices. Given this lapse, I worry if the Vatican’s process owner for the rite can be sure of version control, so that no one will accidentally be working with the 1614 version. And did they appropriately re-train all users and is this documented? Also, are the holy water, crucifixes and relics in current use calibrated to NIST standards? Finally, does the Vatican have an independent Quality Assurance unit to perform audits of their processes and documents? Because that might be a pretty cool job. And it appears that things continue to change with the Rite of Exorcism, so oversight is warranted.
In 2017, the Vatican approved an English version of the rite created by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The translation was developed to simplify the recruitment of priests who could assist with an exorcism, given that facility with Latin is fading, even among the clergy.
I have reviewed the verbal elements of the Rite of Exorcism (English version kindly provided by Catholic Online) and I’m pretty sure I could write a chatbot that could reduce the hands-on time required by the clergy. Recently, I created the world’s first Plott Bot, a chatbot that communicates in the voice of a delightfully humorous, archetypal Plott Hound. (From the Plott Bot: “Stuff I like to talk about? My extremely rare moments of misbehavior, fun things to do, sleeping, hunting, eating, toys, matters of personal hygiene and bodily functions, my interactions with you, my mysterious past and Plott superiority. Or you can try to surprise me.”)
In terms of using the Plott Bot as a marketing strategy, the verdict is still out, but not looking good. By posting news of the Plott Bot to several Facebook groups for Plott Hound enthusiasts, I have succeeded in driving traffic to my author website—over 300 new visitors in about a week. These folks represent a potential niche market, since a Plott Hound plays a major role as a psychopomp in the Zackie Stories, escorting the dead to the afterlife. Unfortunately, it appears that Plott enthusiasts do not buy books: I witnessed no uptick in sales following the release of my chatbot. But it’s early days yet with the Plott Bot, so maybe given more time and exposure, the sales will eventually trickle in.
Perhaps I should consider writing a new book series that involves exorcism, since a much larger market exists among those who believe themselves to be possessed. According to the BBC, an estimated half a million people seek exorcisms each year in Italy alone, and the demand for exorcisms worldwide is growing. This is obviously a growth sector that will keep priests busily employed for years to come.
To keep up with demand, the newest addition to the Rite of Exorcism is the introduction of a cellphone to the exorcist’s kit. A cellphone allows for remote support by an assisting priest, who can recite the prayers and/or responses over the phone. Presumably, if the exorcism does not take, the next step would be to provide deskside support to the end user.
During that dark period when I desperately needed an exorcist to deal with the nasty Cocker Spaniel ear, it would have been extremely useful to be able to hit speed dial and summon prayers of support. And if the Pope learns of my pioneering work with the Plott Bot, who knows? Maybe some day soon, a chatbot will answer that call or text.
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