Rise of the Exorcists in Catholic Church

Forty years after The Exorcist scared the wits out of cinema audiences around  the world, the Roman Catholic Church is training up a new generation of  priests to meet a growing demand for exorcisms.

In The Telegraph:

Dioceses across Italy, as well as in countries such as Spain, are increasing the number of priests schooled in administering the rite of exorcism, fabled to rid people of possession by the Devil.

The rise in demonic cases is a result of more people dabbling in practices such as black magic, paganism, Satanic rites and Ouija boards, often exploring the dark arts with the help of information readily found on the internet, the Church said.

The increase in the number of priests being trained to tackle the phenomenon is also an effort by the Church to sideline unauthorised, self-proclaimed exorcists, and its tacit recognition that belief in Satan, once regarded by Catholic progressives as an embarrassment, is still very much alive.

The trend comes four decades after the 1973 release of The Exorcist, the American horror film based on the demonic possession of a 12-year-old girl and attempts to exorcise her by two priests.

The diocese of Milan recently nominated seven new exorcists, the bishop of Naples appointed three new ones a couple of years ago and the Catholic Church in Sardinia sent three priests for exorcism training in Rome, amid concern that the Mediterranean island, particularly its mountainous, tradition-bound interior, is a hotbed of occultism.

In Spain, Antonio Maria Rouco Varela, the archbishop of Madrid, chose eight priests to undergo special training in May to confront what he described as “an unprecedented rise” in cases of “demonic possession”. The Church in Spain was coming across many cases that “go beyond the competence of psychologists” and they were occurring with “a striking frequency”, the archbishop said.

“Diabolical possessions are on the increase as a result of people subscribing to occultism,” said Fr Francesco Bamonte, the president of the Italy-based International Association for Exorcists. “The few exorcists that we have in the dioceses are often not able to handle the enormous number of requests for help,” he told La Repubblica last month…

You can read on here.



9 thoughts on “Rise of the Exorcists in Catholic Church

  1. The best, and really only so-called “exorcism” is the Person and Work of Christ, i.e. this is the essence of the Gospel, the Good News of the Lordship of Christ! All and any church ritual simply must be here in any verbal formula and command: the power, name and Lordship of “Christ Jesus”, Himself!

    “And you shall know the truth, and truth shall make you free … Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.” (John 8: 32 ; 36)

    “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give to you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.” (Acts 3: 6)

  2. In Truth, the ‘power of the Priesthood’ “scares the wits” out of the Devil! Satan and his demons are fallen angels and therefore possess angelic powers BUT, the ‘Power-of-Christ’ in, with and through The Priest, under the Obedience of the Bishop and the Protection of the Church, is the very power behind a humble David against the giant Goliath. The greater the ‘Humility’ of the Priest, the greater the ‘Power-of-Christ’ Manifest, so greater the outcome.
    “All things in heaven, on earth and under the earth MUST proclaim that Jesus Christ IS Lord”!

    But after their deliverance, these once tormented Souls who, wittingly or unwittingly, became ‘slaves of Satan’ MUST fill-up their Lives-with-Christ or else, as Jesus said: “seeing that their house is swept clean and vacant, seven demons worse than before will move in”.

    Satan may be alive and well–creating havoc & destruction on earth, but the world must know:
    JESUS CHRIST IS VICTOR! – we have only to ‘claim’ His Victory!

    1. Surely Satan is quite a defeated foe! (Col. 2: 15) But he has not been removed from the field of battle yet (Rom. 16: 20), and in fact Paul calls him “the god of this age or world”, (2 Cor. 4: 4). According to Holy Scripture, Christ Jesus is the only High Priest that Satan must simply run and remove from! And this is the only place too of our being “equip”! (Heb. 13: 20-21)

      “From Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever.” (Rev. 1: 5-6)

      There is only the priesthood of believers & saints ‘In Christ’, in the New Covenant! And God has given and called “presbyters”, which we can call perhaps a “Ministerial Priesthood”, which is really more of a representative character, which is always really more of a pastoral and teaching ministry. And thus so-called NT priests are “Presbyteri” and not “Sacerdotes’!

      “The Church is One because it is united to Christ, and it is so, not withstanding the impossibility of outward unity of earthly government. The Church is Holy because it is possessed by the Spirit of God. The Church is Catholic because Christ is proclaimed everywhere and its life is independent of place and time [In the Vicar of Christ the Holy Spirit]. The Church is Apostolic because it is true to the New Testament Apostolic teaching. Thus every “note” is associated with Christ, and the One Holy Catholic Apostolic Church is neither a mere aggregate of visible Churches nor a single invisible community of individuals. It is none the less real because of its life is in Christ and its character spiritual. The Church of the New Testament [Covenant] is that Body of Christ which consists of all the faithful in Him, and every separate community of such people is a true visible Church.” (W H Griffith Thomas, Anglican)

      Indeed the true, historical Church of Christ is always both Visible, to degree, and somewhat Invisible, in the Glory above, with Christ on the Throne of ‘grace and glory’! Noting Paul’s great Letter to the Ephesians, chapters 1 & 2! 🙂

      1. I should include Ephesians chapter 3. This chapter has been so lost in todays Church! It gives St. Paul’s great stewardship and dispensation of the Revelation of the Mystery of the Church, and the place of the Gentiles (Nations outside of Israel) in the purpose and place of God, In Christ! (Verses 10-12) And this “church” is a great lesson in ‘the manifold wisdom of God”, “to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

        This last was sort and quick… Noting too verse 21!

      2. one cannot simply preach Theology and Catechesis or even quote Scripture to a ‘possessed’ person and expect a ‘deliverance from Evil’ – for that Soul, at this point, is beyond delivering themselves by sheer Will. Surely not any ‘Christian’ can take up such a daunting task as an “Exorcism” – representing “Christ as High Priest” – for Christ did give this Power to His Church to “drive-out demons”. So then, by what provisions do you propose the ‘universal church’ can exorcise these poor Souls from bondage and torment? – by the ‘Name & Power-of-Christ’ of course, but by what means? And what earthly Authority to do so would Satan fear?

      3. @Margaret: I would surely disagree, any true Spirit-filled, and Spirit lead Christian can lay-hands on someone, and pray in Jesus Name and Authority! I think here of Acts 4: 13, as well as other believers in the Book of Acts, like Philip in Acts 8! Indeed the early Christians were not super theologians, or all apostles, but they were believers, and filled with the Spirit of Christ! Note Paul had not yet even showed-up on the scene! He was really the first great “thinker-theolog”!

        I guess you have never seen an old Camp-Meeting of Pentecostals! 😉 I have, even in England. I was asked one time to even speak at a kind of Pentecostal conference, which I did. I can get in gear sometimes, indeed the “unction” of the Spirit can be real, especially in the depth of preaching! An indeed the burden of the Lord is real! WE surely need more real “biblical” preaching! I am critical of Pentecostalism, the Charismatic’s, even Keswick types, for we simply MUST seek to authentic any spiritual gifts and aspects! But God In Christ is not bound by man, even theological man, or so-called religious institutions. Though of course God is historical and binds Himself there! Christianity comes from Judaism, i.e. the Judeo-Christian! We can never forget that!

      4. I do believe in the aspect and act of anointing with oil for the sick, as the Book of James so simply asks! (James 5: 14) But it is basically a Jewish form, and I don’t really see it as fully sacramental, in itself. But it certainly has been part of the healing of some at times.

  3. Fr. Robert: I understand and believe that any and all Christians can pray with one another (lay-hands-on) – with the sincere desire and full intent of obtaining a healing (e.g. addictions or illnesses) or even for the deliverance of ‘oppressive’ spirits. However, here it is more than simply a matter of ‘degree’ – there is a world of difference between a ‘deliverance from oppression’ and an ‘exorcism from possession”. A full-blown authenticated “possession” requires an “Exorcism” – that person/s are so-to-speak, at that place in time, the ‘property’ of Satan. It is playing with hell-fire–on the Devil’s turf and he will not give up his ‘property’ without all-hell-breaking-loose. One does not come out of such an encounter unscathed – it is by far the worst battle that can be fought and the foe is formidable–because a Soul/s are at stake. That is reason enough why “Exorcisms” are delegated to Appointment by the Church Hierarchy and the Anointing rests on the shoulders of the Ministerial Priesthood–within the RCC and not exercised among the priesthood-of-the-Faithful. Here once again–the Wisdom & Prudence of Mother Church shines forth!

    I haven’t experienced an old camp-meeting of Pentecostals and I have had very little exposure to the ‘charismatic movement’ within the RCC. The reason being, for the very reason you give–‘seek to authentic spiritual gifts and aspects’. Here my experience anyway is that the ‘human spirit’ often seeks to rival and even dethrone the Holy Spirit and so…not all that glitters is gold!
    And yes, the “Judeo-Christian” – Amen to that!

  4. @Margaret: Don’t forget I am a hospital chaplain, and almost work daily! And I actually get to see some of the psyche patients. I would say myself, that most of the people in this area are simply clinically pressed by psychophysical laws, rather than psychotherapeutics, or the straight-out demonic. Though certainly in some sense we are all affected by a fallen world! But the actual demonic possession is quite rare, though I feel I have seen a few in my time for sure! Note, I have had courses and classes in both areas of clinical psychology, and some psychotherapy. Btw, at the hospital I work at, the young Roman Catholic priest defers to let them ask me to see the psyche patients, often even the Catholic ones. I know this is not his bag or forte. And I know he is actually afraid in this area, as he has told me. He is a somewhat traditionalist Catholic. I respect the reality of real demonolatry, but I fear that movies like the Exorcist, have done more damage than good in this area! Exorcism and the exorcist, in Roman Catholic theology and ritual, actually are more toward the third or minor orders, “exorcistate”, and date back to the third century, but in present-day discipline is exercised only by a priest. The only full reference in the Bible is in Acts 19: 13! And of course now, the use and power in the RCC is only given to priests who act with the so-called bishops permission. We should surely see the Texts of Acts 19:13-20, perhaps a case only from the 1st. century, and the whole apostolic ministry of St. Paul? (Verses 21-22, with 23-41 ; see too 2 Cor. 12: 12). We should see too Acts chapter 5, and the whole Ananias and Sapphira affair! Keeping in mind that the Sign Gifts, seem to have passed-away at the end of the 1st. century! And that the Book of Acts seems to be surely a transition book from the Old Covenant to the New! If this is the normal Christian life and dispensation? Then we have quite missed it for many centuries! And we should also note, that the most “evil” men appear quite normal, but are pressed by their own desire, for power and wealth! (Note even Judas Iscariot here! John 12: 4-6, etc. ; John 17: 12) As we see too in the great antichrists, in our own history, Hitler, Mussolini, etc.

    Finally, we should note, that it appears demon-possession was also thought to be those people that were “epileptics, and paralytics” (Mk. 4: 23). But, this appears only the general sense of the time, etc. (looking at the whole of Mk. 4: 23) Again, sin in a fallen, broken world! The greatest evil has yet to come, in the person of The Antichrist, 2 Thess. 2: 3, etc. (note verses 9 & 10-11)…see also Matt. 24 and Mk. 13, with Rev.12 & 13!

    A last note, but indeed most of the Roman Catholic priests that I have met, especially these days, don’t even believe in a personal devil today! This seems almost the norm too with the Franciscan’s I have met! I even wonder if this new pope “Francis” even really believes in a personal Devil?

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