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From early times certain Christians with charismatic gifts have been recognized to have the power to exorcise. Exorcist was also one of the old minor orders. Originally it designated a person whose liturgical duties included laying hands on catechumens (those preparing for baptism) and energumens (those possessed by unclean spirits). It was later one of the orders through which one passed on the way to priesthood. The Church of England abandoned minor orders at the Reformation, and the Roman Catholic Church suppressed them in 1972. Today an exorcist is a person appointed by the bishop to perform a rite of exorcism. An exorcist is usually but not necessarily a priest. See Minor Orders. 

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from "An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians," Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.
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