The number of exorcists in England is growing following a rise in demonic possession, as both the (London) Times and the Daily Telegraph are reporting.
A week-long exorcism conference, held this week at the Pontifical
University of Regina Apostolorum in Rome and endorsed by the Vatican, is
being attended by around 160 Roman Catholic priests from around the world,
who insist that demonic possession is very real.
Dioceses in the UK, Italy, Spain and elsewhere have noticed a dramatic
increase in the number of people claiming to be possessed and have
responded by training more priests in the dark arts of how to perform exorcisms.
A priest who is one of four Britons to attend the conference in
Rome said that most Roman Catholic dioceses in England now have an official
exorcist, whereas only half had one just five years ago. He explained
that part of the reason for this increasing demand is the rise in the
consumption of pornography, drugs, and greater interest in the occult in modern society.
“Porn and drugs are addictions which can allow an evil spirit to
enter, but there is also a growth in awareness within the church of the
Devil,” he said.
Since his election two years ago, Pope Francis has frequently
mentioned the Devil, helping put belief in Satan back into the
mainstream of Catholic thought. Father Cesare Truqui, a Mexican
exorcist, told the media:
“Pope Francis talks about the Devil all the
time and that has certainly raised awareness about exorcisms. But all
Latin Americans have this sensibility – for them, the existence of the
Devil is part of their faith.”
One of the British priests added: “Until a few years ago, a
significant number of people in the Church didn’t believe in the Devil,
but people are now going back to the Scriptures. Pope Francis has given a
certain amount of encouragement to that.”
Fr Truqui, who serves as exorcist for the Swiss diocese of Chur, says
he has taken part in around 100 exorcisms. He said that exorcists are trained to discern the difference between
demonic possession and medically treatable psychiatric disorders.
“Some people are mentally ill and do not need exorcism. But others do
and there are some classic signs – people who speak in ancient tongues,
for instance. Other people have supernatural strength when they are in a
state of possession – it might take four men to hold down a
slightly-built woman. In some cases, people are able to levitate.”
One of the British priests also said: “If one is addicted to
something, it allows the evil spirit to hook into that and make it more
potent.” He added, however: “A considerable number of the cases referred
to us are in fact psychiatric cases. It is important to be able to recognize the difference.”
In October, Pope Francis commended exorcist priests for their
fight against "the Devil's works", saying that the Church needed to help
"those possessed by evil."
During the week-long course, there will be lectures by Roman Catholic
prelates on subjects such as “Occultism, black magic and Satanism,” “Angels and demons in Holy Scripture,” and “Criminal Aspects of