The Vatican is hosting an exorcism training course for priests this month after a ‘pastoral emergency’ was declared in response to growing numbers of reported demonic possessions.
It be held in Rome – at the Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum – between April 16-21 and will focus on the prayer of liberation, which is commonly used to deliver a persecuted soul from evil spirits.
The news comes after the Vatican was forced to deny that Pope Francis had said there is no Hell in an interview.
Reporter Eugenio Scalfari was accused of ‘reconstructing’ the pontiff’s words after Francis reportedly said: ‘There is no hell, there is the disappearance of sinful souls.’
According to Friar Beningo Palilla, there are now about 500,000 members of the faithful requiring exorcism in Italy alone each year
The news comes after the Vatican was forced to deny that Pope Francis had said there is no Hell during an interview
The International Association of Exorcists, which is backed by the Vatican, recently declared a ‘pastoral emergency’ after numerous priests complained of a surge in exorcism requests.
According to Friar Beningo Palilla, there are now about 500,000 members of the faithful requiring exorcism in Italy alone each year, Vatican Radio reported.
He blamed the increase on a growing number of people seeking the services of fortune tellers and Tarot readers in recent years.
Such practices ‘open the door to the devil and to possession,’ he claimed.
‘We priests, very often, do not know how to deal with the concrete cases presented to us – in the preparation for the priesthood, we do not talk about these things,’ he said.
At a conference in Sicily last month, Friar Cesare Truqui warned: ‘The fight against the evil one started at the origin of the world, and is destined to last until the end of the world.’
He added: ‘Today we are at a stage crucial in history: Many Christians no longer believe in [Satan’s] existence, few exorcists are appointed and there are no more young priests willing to learn the doctrine and practice of liberation of souls.’
In January, an Irish priest called on Catholic bishops to train more exorcists after noticing a surge in ‘demonic activity’.
Fr Pat Collins (pictured), Ireland’s most prominent exorcist, said demand for his services has risen ‘exponentially’ in recent years
The Dublin priest added that he is ‘baffled’ by bishops’ failure recruit more specialist priests to deal with ghost encounters and demonic possession. Pictured: A scene from the 1973 film The Exorcist, which drew attention to the phenomenon of supposed demonic possession
Fr Pat Collins, Ireland’s most prominent exorcist, said demand for his services has risen ‘exponentially’ in recent years.
He has been overwhelmed by requests for his help, he added, stressing in an open letter to the church’s senior clergy that he needs support.
‘What I’m finding out desperately, is people who in their own minds believe – rightly or wrongly – that they’re afflicted by an evil spirit,’ Fr Collins told The Irish Catholic.
The Dublin priest added that he is ‘baffled’ by bishops’ failure to recruit more specialist priests to deal with ghost encounters and demonic possession.
‘I think in many cases they wrongly think [they are possessed], but when they turn to the Church, the Church doesn’t know what to do with them and they refer them on either to a psychologist or to somebody that they’ve heard of that is interested in this form of ministry, and they do fall between the cracks and often are not helped,’ Fr Collins said.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church, the Catholic News Agency notes, stresses the need to separate signs of mental illness and apparent manifestations of the devil.
The training will be held in Rome – at the Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum – between April 16-21 and will focus on the prayer of liberation, which is commonly used to deliver a soul from evil spirits
Paragraph 1673 explains: ‘Exorcism is directed at the expulsion of demons or to the liberation from demonic possession through the spiritual authority which Jesus entrusted to his Church.
‘Illness, especially psychological illness, is a very different matter; treating this is the concern of medical science.
‘Therefore, before an exorcism is performed, it is important to ascertain that one is dealing with the presence of the Evil One, and not an illness.’
In November, Fr Collins said he was appalled there was no ‘safeguarding from the evil spirits’ in the church.
He said then that bishops were ‘neglecting’ the practice of fighting evil and that he was ‘deeply’ bothered by the lack of priests with exorcism training.
‘It’s interesting as people lose faith in God, they are increasing their interest in the devil and it’s purely morbid,’ he said.
‘I’d say to anyone who’s got that morbid interest, ‘If you had to deal with evil as someone have to do, it is horrible, it is pure darkness’.’
He also added that his deep faith protects him from evil spirits, stressing that he ‘knows who’s boss’.
He said that the Lord has ‘power and authority’ over evil spirits and, because of that, exorcists also have authority over the demons.
‘I believe there is nothing to be afraid of but priests and lay people need training in how to go about this and how to distinguish between psychological problems and spiritual problems and how they interconnect at times as they often do,’ he said.