Vatican officials announced a class to train new exorcists in the face of a crisis in Italy, where church leaders say alleged possessions have tripled.
The church in Italy is woefully under-equipped to deal with what Catholic exorcists in Italy say is an exponential increase in demand for exorcisms seen in recent years, according to Catholic News Agency. The Vatican, which has suffered a lack of clergy willing to learn about exorcism, will offer a week-long training course for exorcists from April 16 to 21 in order to prepare those who are entering the ministry to face the alleged rise in demonic activity.
“Today we are at a stage crucial in history: Many Christians no longer believe in [the devil’s] existence, few exorcists are appointed and there are no more young priests willing to learn,” Father Cesare Truqui, an exorcist who will speak at the training, told Vatican News.
The course will offer reflection and articulation on the rite of exorcism and the prayer of liberation, which priests employ in the process of leading demonically oppressed individuals to deliverance.
Father Benigno Palilla, an exorcist from Sicily, claimed that Italy’s yearly total of cases of alleged demonic activity tripled recently, rising to 500,000 cases annually, according to CNA. He attributed the rise in cases of possession to increased use of fortune tellers and tarot cards, which “open the door to the devil and to possession.”
Palilla said that the church now finds itself in a weakened position regarding ministry to those suffering from the demonic because current training for the priesthood does not prepare priests to deal with the demonic.
“We priests, very often, do not know how to deal with the concrete cases presented to us: in the preparation for the priesthood, we do not talk about these things. And, consequently, a true evangelization is lacking,” Palilla said, according to CNA.
Palilla also argued for exorcist apprenticeships, saying that self-taught exorcists are prone to error and therefore an increase in available priests would not be enough to solve the problem. Some cases of alleged possession, Palilla told Crux, are actually cases where an individual is suffering from psychological problems, highlighting the need for discerning exorcists who have undergone extensive training.
“The demoniacs are the existential peripheries to which Pope Francis drives us. They are people who suffer a lot and, unfortunately, are not included in the registry of the Church,” Palilla told Crux.
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