Vatican exorcism course facing increasing demand

An exorcism course being held in Rome this week has drawn about 250 priests from dozens of countries.

There is an increasing demand for exorcisms throughout the world.

Topics the course covers include how to identify demonic possession, witchcraft in Africa, how to tell the difference between demonic possession and mental illness, and the rituals behind expelling demons.

The theological, psychological and anthropological background to exorcisms is also covered and the experiences of priests who have been involved in exorcisms is shared.

Other topics the course covers include looking at how the devil can influence the use of pornography.

Father Pedro Barrajon said the course wanted to discuss ‘this modern cultural phenomenon of [pornography] – an evil that harms people’.

The course aims to ‘open a space to see if there is a possibility to show influence from the devil,’ Father Barrajon explained.

The week-long course is described as the only international series of lectures of its kind.

Entitled “Exorcism and the Prayer of Liberation”, it first opened its doors in 2005 and the number of priests attending has more than doubled since then.

Several countries have observed an increase in the numbers of people reporting signs of demonic possession.

Half a million people reportedly seek exorcisms every year in Italy.

A report in 2017 by Christian think-tank Theos said the practice was on the rise in the UK, in part due to the spread of Pentecostal churches.

Cardinal Ernest Simoni of Albania drew strong interest in the first session by citing the use of cellphones in exorcisms.

“They call me and we speak and that’s how I do it,” Simoni said.

He said he uses the same words for the rite over the phone as he does if he is with the possessed person.

Last year Pope Francis told priests they “must not hesitate” to refer parishioners to exorcists if they suffer from “genuine spiritual disturbances”.













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