The Vatican has launched an extra training course to cope with demand for exorcisms. The course which is open to applicants from around the world with approval of their bishop, comes amids rising claims of people being possessed. The exorcism training will take place this April at the Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum in Rome and focus on anthropological, social, theological, liturgical, pastoral, and medical aspects of exorcism and the prayer of liberation.
In Italy alone, it is estimated that half a million people approach the Church each year about demonic possessions. The Church says TV and film are promoting increased use of ouija boards, ghost hunts and seances that are leading to depression, anxiety and suicide in young people.
Father Cesare Truqui, speaking to the Vatican Insider, said there was a lot of ‘superstition’ surrouding demonic possession and actual cases were quite rare. He also warned that nowhere was immune, “not even the Vatican. Satan arrives wherever there are human beings.”
Critics have warned that many people accused or believing they are possessed are actually in need of psychological help and treatment. Exorcism is also used as a front for child abuse and sexual assault with Authorities in the UK suggesting that 1,500 such cases are carried out each year, thinly veiled as ‘exorcisms’.
In Ireland, renowned exorcist Fr. Pat Collins told the Irish Catholic in January that he was receiving calls daily from people about demonic possession. Calling for increases resources and exorcists from the Church, he said “it’s only in recent years that the demand has risen exponentially”.
“I think in many cases they wrongly think it, 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,” he said.
The story is repeated in America with exorcisms going through the roof. Different denomination have different rituals and procedures but all are experiencing a huge surge in requests.