Catholic clergy are facing a “mushrooming demand for exorcisms” in the last few decades, a new report declares, whose effects can be felt worldwide.
“An astonishing number of people undergo deliverance from demonic forces every week, not only in the developing world but also in Britain and the United States,” write two university professors in a lengthy essay for the Catholic Herald.
Dr. Kate Kingsbury of the University of Alberta and Dr. Andrew Chesnut of Virginia Commonwealth University state that in the U.S. and Britain, for instance, “parishioners increasingly believe that demons are the cause of their various tribulations.”
“A priest at an apostolic church in Georgia reported that the demand for exorcisms in the past two years had increased so dramatically that he could not keep up,” the scholars report. “Catholics came to him with a range of problems they attributed to demonic possession, from love and health troubles to changes in personality.”
“Many had sought services from the state, such as psychological aid or medical care, which had failed them, before turning to the priest,” they note.
The Catholic Herald report mirror the findings of a number of other such studies.
Interest in exorcism has risen sharply in countries like Italy, keeping pace with what has been seen as a recent rise in “demonic activity.” As Breitbart News has reported, requests for exorcists in Italy has tripled in recent years, reaching an annual total of nearly a half million, and other countries have witnessed a similar increase.
Sicilian exorcist Father Benigno Palilla told Vatican Radio in an interview last March that more and more Italians are engaging in occult activities, which often serve as a gateway to the demonic.
About a quarter of Italy’s adult population regularly visits astrologers, psychics, and tarot card readers, according to the consumer organization Codacons. It is precisely this sort of occult activities, Father Benigno Palilla said, that “open the door to the devil and to possession.”
Last April, hundreds of students, mostly Catholic priests, traveled to Rome to attend an annual Vatican course on exorcism.
Some 250 people from 50 countries attended a week of lectures on issues relating to the devil and demonic activity, including how to distinguish between psychological afflictions and supernatural “vexation,” and how to combat Satan where he is present.
“All this underlines that exorcism is on the rise and is no longer a marginal practice,” write Drs. Kingsbury and Chesnut. “With the failure of modern medicine, psychology and the mod cons of capitalism to explain difficulties, resolve troubles or offer equal opportunities to all, demons and satanic forces are often blamed for issues, whether in Africa, Latin America, Europe or the US.”
Even more than his immediate predecessors, Pope Francis has underscored the “malign power” of Satan and the need to engage in spiritual warfare.
Satan is not “a myth, a representation, a symbol, a figure of speech or an idea,” Francis wrote in a lengthy teaching letter called Gaudete et Exsultate (“Rejoice and Be Glad”), and falling into this error “would lead us to let down our guard, to grow careless and end up more vulnerable.”
The pope said that acknowledging the existence of the devil is essential, because Christians engage in a spiritual warfare that is not merely “a battle against the world and a worldly mentality” or a “struggle against our human weaknesses and proclivities.”
“It is also a constant struggle against the devil, the prince of evil,” he said.
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