Muslims Reach Out to Catholic Priests to Request Exorcisms

Muslim devotees attend friday prayers at the Sehitlik mosque in Berlin on November 16, 2012. AFP PHOTO / JOHN MACDOUGALL (Photo credit should read JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP/Getty Images)
JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP/Getty Images

Students learning to cast out demons were told to expect Muslims among their future clients at a week-long course on exorcism in Rome this week.

One of the speakers for the course, 89-year-old Cardinal Ernest Simoni of Albania, told the nearly 300 students that in his decades of experience as an exorcist he had performed the ritual on Muslims. “Jesus came for everyone,” he said.

“The grace of the Holy Spirit will redeem us all,” he said.

Father Andre Francisco Fernandes, an Indian priest currently serving in Dubai, said that “many Muslims,” even highly educated ones had approached him to request an exorcism.

“They say, ‘Father, someone has done black magic on me, can you pray over me and remove the devil?’” he said.

Giuseppe Ferrari, an expert on exorcisms and one of the organizers of the course, said: “I don’t see why we cannot do it for Muslims if they ask.”

While Islam already has a form of exorcism, this doesn’t prevent Muslims from seeking out Catholic priests to perform the rite. According to John L Allen, the editor of the religious website Crux, there is a “kind of pride” among Catholics who offer the service to Muslims. “It’s like saying our stuff works and theirs doesn’t,” he said.

Another of the lecturers for the course, Father César Truqui, a Catholic priest who has been performing exorcisms for 10 years, said in a recent interview that demand for exorcists is on the rise as more and more pastors become convinced that the devil is real and needs to be fought.

“Christ was the first exorcist,” said the Mexican priest based in Switzerland. “The power of casting out demons was one of the signs that Christianity was a true religion.”

While most people who come to him for help are dealing with mental problems rather than diabolical activity, Truqui said, a small percentage undeniably face true demonic “vexation.”

Signs of a demonic presence include the sort of things that would be impossible for a mere mortal to do, the priest said, such as when a person performs feats of superhuman strength or suddenly starts speaking in Hebrew or Aramaic despite never having studied the languages.

Other times their voice changes and they growl or speak in tongues, he said, while some reveal knowledge of “secret things,” such as what a person who is not present is doing or wearing. People who are possessed can be overwhelmed by feelings of discomfort when they are in places of worship, he said.

The priest said that on one occasion the devil spoke to him directly. The possessed person “said, ‘I am the prince of this world, I am Satan’, and the hairs on my arms went up. When you listen to a satanic growl, once you listen to the devil’s voice, you can recognise it,” he said.

The annual course offered in Rome by the Sacerdos Institute, titled “Exorcism and Prayer of Liberation,” is now in its 13th year and draws hundreds of students each year. Held at the Regina Apostolorum University in Rome, the course features speakers including Vatican officials, exorcists, psychologists, physicians and other experts.

As Breitbart News reported last month, the demand for exorcists in Italy has tripled in recent years, reaching nearly a half million requests per year.

In an interview with Vatican Radio, Sicilian exorcist Father Benigno Palilla said that more and more Italians are engaging in occult activities, which often serve as a gateway to the demonic.

Nearly a quarter of Italy’s adult population regularly visits astrologers, psychics, and tarot card readers, and it is precisely these sorts of activities, the priest said, that “open the door to the devil and to possession.”

Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter

.