I don’t know whether it’s a P.R. move, an attempt to distract from long-standing allegations of sexual assault and associated cover-ups, a legitimate rise in the number of people who are seeking out the Church’s helps, or some combination of the three, but all over the world, exorcists for the Catholic Church are claiming a major bump in demonic occurrences.
The most recent example of this comes straight from the Vatican, where top officials say they are hosting a week-long international conference to address the allegedly unprecedented rise in requests for exorcisms across Italy.
The Vatican hopes to step up its game against demon possessions with a week-long international conference in April to address a threefold increase in demand in Italy alone for the services of exorcists.
The church is particularly alarmed over the uneven skills of some of its current exorcists and worried about priests who are no longer willing to learn the techniques.
The assessment is a major finding of a four-day meeting in Sicily that included testimony on sects and Satanism, according to Vatican Radio.
One of the organizers of the Sicily gathering, Friar Beningo Palilla, told Vatican Radio there are some 500,000 cases requiring exorcism in Italy each year.
Sure, can’t have amateur exorcists on the payroll. That would be silly.
It’s possible that more and more people are turning to the Catholic Church in times of desperation, but I find that hard to believe. I wonder if they’re mistaking demonic possessions for people struggling with mental illnesses or just trying to distract everyone from their various scandals.
Friar Palilla blames the increase in demonic possessions on fortune tellers and Tarot card readers, saying they “open the door to the devil and to possession.” This may be more about maintaining brand awareness than anything else. After all, if you’re willing to resort to supernatural answers to fix whatever’s troubling you, turning to psychics makes as much sense as talking to a priest. Might as well trash the competition.
At least Palilla understands that some people seeking exorcisms from the Church may not be afflicted by demons at all.
While many of the cases are not actually related to demonic possession, but to spiritual or psychological problems, he conceded, they nonetheless must be investigated.
Yes, they need to be investigated, but if someone has psychological problems presenting as demon possession, the last thing they need is the Church. They need real medical help from a licensed professional.
This isn’t unique to Italy. This report comes just a month after an Irish priest reported a “dramatic increase” in demonic dilemmas. Father Pat Collins wrote a letter urging bishops to train more priests to be exorcists, and I explained why I thought priests were coming forth with similar stories.
Considering the exorcism industry has thrived in the past due to fictional dramatic films, unchecked mental illness, and people desperate to blame their problems on the supernatural, this may be a public relations move more than anything else. These priests want to feel needed, and they live in a world where more and more people are realizing they can get by just fine without them.
I stand by that given this new reporting, too.
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