The Catholic Church in Rome is offering a week-long course on casting out Satan, preparing priests and some lay people on the finer points of exorcism and demonic possession.
This extremely successful course, titled “Exorcism and Prayer of Liberation,” is now in its 11th year and boasts over a thousand graduates. Students are introduced into a biblical understanding of the devil as the “father of lies,” as well as being trained in distinguishing between true demonic disturbances and problems of a psychological nature.
The course, which runs April 4-9, is organized by the Sacerdos Institute in collaboration with the Group for Socio-religious Research and Information (GRIS) and the International Association of Exorcists (IEA).
According to the director of the course, Father Pedro Barrajon, the curriculum endeavors to separate sensationalism from sound theology, and strives to deepen the biblical and theological basis of the nature and the actions of angels and demons, in open dialogue with other sciences such as psychology, law and medicine.
The lectures and panel discussions—which include direct Q&A with actual exorcists—aim at equipping students to recognize demonic activity and deal with it properly, including through the practice of exorcism itself and prayer of deliverance.
This year’s enrollment in the program comprises pastoral workers, psychologists, doctors, teachers, lawyers, as well as dozens of priests, and features a lineup of speakers including Vatican officials, bishops and even Riccardo Di Segni, the Chief Rabbi of Rome’s Jewish Community.
Father Barrajon says that the work of exorcists is needed now more than ever, since many do not believe in the devil yet play around with dangerous occult practices.
“Living in a very secularized society where more than in the past there is a tendency to open the door to occultism and esotericism, diabolical action is favored by magical practices and recourse to fortune tellers, which may have a real influence on diabolical possession,” he said.
In his preaching, Pope Francis has spoken of the devil repeatedly, insisting that he is real and must be fought. The present generation, the Pope has said, “was led to believe that the devil was a myth, a picture, an idea, the idea of evil. But the devil exists, and we have to fight him.”
“The devil,” the Pope went on, “is a liar, the father of lies.”
Francis has praised the work of exorcists, priests dedicated to the work of deliverance and casting out demons.
According to the Pope, priests devoted to the ministry of exorcism “manifest the Church’s love and acceptance of those who suffer because of the devil’s works.”
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