By Selina Lum
TWO priests from the Novena Church 'goofed up' when they tried to cast evil spirits out of a woman without following standard procedures, her lawyer contended in court yesterday.
In fact, the 'exorcism' they performed on Madam Amutha Valli Krishnan, 52, was 'amateurish', said her lawyer, Mr R.S. Bajwa.
Yesterday, Father Jacob Ong took the stand for the first time in the hearing, and like Father Simon Tan before him, was grilled by Mr Bajwa on whether the two priests had carried out an exorcism on Madam Valli.
Mr Bajwa asserted that the essence of exorcism is to expel a demon from a person - and that was what the priests were trying to do that night.
Father Jacob maintained that they had only offered deliverance, prayers and sung hymns.
Father Jacob said an exorcism would entail reporting the case to the bishop, who would appoint an official exorcist. There are certain rites to be followed, none of which was performed on Madam Valli, he said.
Mr Bajwa countered: 'Precisely because you were so amateurish, you all had no idea what are the rites to be followed.'
Father Jacob replied: 'If I had done so, I would have violated the rules of the church.'
The lawyer said that Father Simon had violated the rules by telling the spirit of a dead soldier to leave her, which went beyond prayer.
'The two of you goofed up that day,' Mr Bajwa said. 'Both of you attempted an exorcism without the checks and safeguards.' Father Jacob disagreed.
The lawyer gave the analogy of a political party which organises a rally without a police permit, then turns around and argues later that it was not a rally because no permit was obtained.
He noted that the priests were making the same 'stupid' argument. 'You did all these acts but you did not get permission from the bishop.'
But Father Jacob held his ground. 'We prayed. If we had done an exorcism, I would have to go to the bishop...The whole package must be followed. You can't say it's exorcism.'
Mr Bajwa said the priests should have stopped and called for an ambulance when Madam Valli began strangling herself. Noting that Father Jacob had played an assisting role to Father Simon that night, Mr Bajwa said this was a deliberate decision because Father Simon 'was more adventurous and prepared to take on evil spirits'.
He accused Father Jacob of not stopping Father Simon even though he knew his fellow priest had gone into the realm of exorcism.
Mr Bajwa asked: 'Did you realise, at some point in time, that the prayers were doing more damage than good?'
No, replied the priest. 'I realised that we needed to pray harder.'
[The case makes the following arguments by this point in time.
1) The priests conducted an exorcism.
2) The priests were not authorised to conduct an exorcism
3) The priests were incompetent to conduct an exorcism.
4) As a result of their incompetence the plaintive was traumatised. The priests did more harm than good.
If so, shouldn't she still be possessed? If the priests were as incompetent as the plaintive lawyers charged, then the plaintive should still be possessed. If she is not now possessed, then how were the spirit or spirits exorcised?
If she was instead not possessed but suffering from mental illness, then are the family members then liable for not seeking proper care for her? Instead by taking her to priests, are they not misrepresenting the problems, i.e. lying to the priests? While it is no crime to lie to priests, is it unexpected that if you tell priests that the person is possessed, that the priests will then address the problem via religious rites such as prayer?]