According to Pope Francis, priests devoted to the ministry of exorcism “manifest the Church’s love and acceptance of those who suffer because of the devil’s works.”
Francis wrote these words in a message addressed to Father Francesco Bamonte, the president of the International Association of Exorcists, which is holding a convention in Rome this week. Vatican Radio has reported that more than 300 exorcists from around the world have participated.
This was the first conference to be held by the International Association of Exorcists since the Vatican formally approved its statutes this past June 13.
Father Bamonte said that the approval of the organization was “cause for joy not only for the association, but for the whole Church” and said that “God calls some priests to this important ministry of exorcism and deliverance” to be able to “accompany the persons with humility, faith and charity.”
Dr. Valter Cascioli, a psychiatrist and official spokesmen for the Association, told Vatican Radio that an increase in occultism and Satanism has “opened the door to demonic activity.” The number of people taking part in these activities and “experiencing serious social, psychological, spiritual and moral damage has been growing,” Cascioli said, along with “an increase in other demonic phenomena such as vexations, obsessions and especially diabolical possessions.”
Pope Francis has spoken more insistently about the devil than his predecessors. Earlier this month, the Pope spoke of the devil’s “patience” in his temptations, and his ability to come back time and again. In a homily last April, the Pope said to his listeners that “we are tempted; we are the object of the devil’s attacks.”