The Vatican has now been forced to pay extra attention to the phenomena, a topic long exploited by the film industry for horror flicks, after it was revealed that half a million Italians have to exorcists for help. The number, which is three times as high as it was just a few years ago, came up during a recent meeting in Sicily that included testimonies on sects and Satanism. Talking to Vatican Radio, Friar Beningo Palilla blamed the increase of reported cases on the growing number of people who go to fortune tellers and Tarot card readers, which "open the door to the devil and to possession."
Meanwhile, according to the media, Vatican officials are alarmed that some priests, who have to conduct exorcisms, have insufficient skills and are no longer interested in learning the techniques. Apart from an ability to drive out a demon, another matter in question is to tell a mentally ill person from a possessed one. This has prompted the church to act.
To prepare their priests for the challenge the Papal Institute of Ateneo Regina Apostolorum is holding a week-long conference at the end of April in which participants from all over the world are to study an international course on exorcism and special prayers. One of the speakers, Cesare Truqui, the author of "Professione esorcista" ("The Job of Exorcist") has revealed some facts about his craft and the upcoming workshop, which you may be interested to know, in an interview with Sputnik Italia.
According to Mr. Truqui, the ritual of exorcism is treated by the Church as the same as marriage or baptism. As any standard procedure, it was codified by a special Congregation decree in a book titled "Of Exorcisms and Certain Supplications." To use it, priests have to be licensed by a bishop.
Although there are around 300 exorcists in Italy, Mr. Truqui claims the knowledge shouldn’t be a secret among this circle. In 2004, a special course for priests was established. The chief goals are to prepare priests for the job and to get them acquainted with the basic aspects of demonic possessions. It's a multi-subject course involving priests, lawyers, doctors and mental specialists.
READ MORE: Vatican to Roll Out New Exorcism Course to Combat Demons
Red Flags of Possession
One of the major challenges for the priests is to determine if a person who has turned to them for help actually has some mental or psychological issues, or if Satanism and magic actually are the cause. According to Mr. Truqui, only 3% of those who come for exorcism need it. He is treating only 4 men and women of those who have asked him to help. The red flags for a priest are a command of dead or foreign languages that the person hasn’t learned, having ancient and occult knowledge and rejection of the sacraments, although the last one is not codified. Knowledge of psychology and an ability to be a good listener can also come in handy to dismiss the possibility that a believer is mentally ill.
The First Demon is to Remember
Although Mr. Truqui said no, answering the question if he has witnessed anything unusual, he admitted that he’s startled each time a demon starts to talk through a possessed person, but also that an exorcist gets used to it. However the first ceremony, when you hear a demon for the first time, remains with you for the rest of your life, according to him.