I think it’s safe to safe that the world lately has gone crazy. It’s scarier skimming through the news than watching almost any horror movie you can pull up and it seems the Vatican is taking notice of it too. According to USA Today, the Vatican is holding a conference to train priests on exorcisms due to high demand.
You read that right; the Vatican is concerned about having enough exorcists on hand due to possible demonic possession cases TRIPLING in occurrence in Italy alone. To battle the demand, they are hosting a week-long conference in April to train priests to help take on the cases. The conference was born from the worry that priests are unevenly trained (or unwilling to be trained) to handle the possible possession situations that are arising more and more as time goes on.
While most cases of possible possession turn out to be the consequence of mental illness, the church requires they still be investigated. A prominent exorcist and one of the organizers of the upcoming conference is Friar Beningo Palilla who said that the rise in people doing occult practices like tarot cards or going to fortune tellers “open the door to the devil and possession.”
He also mentioned that, “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.” More often than not, the family of the afflicted parties will seek assistance outside of the properly trained and amateurs that can cause more harm than good and can charge exorbitant amounts of money for their services.
May 19, 2013 at the Vatican, Pope “exorcises” man in wheelchair,TV screenshot.
He had this to say about the self-taught exorcists: “A self-taught exorcist certainly meets errors. I will say more: it would also take a period of apprenticeship, as happens for many professionals.” While bishops can appoint exorcists, Palilla believes that exorcism trainees should work alongside a well-learned expert in the field to truly learn the process.
There are around 500,000 cases each year in Italy that requires an exorcist’s attention. An exorcism can only be performed with explicit permission from the church. Pallilla hopes “to offer a rich reflection and articulation on a topic that is sometimes unspoken and controversial.” And outside of the horror industry, the idea of exorcism to many people is very taboo and even dangerous to talk about.
The conference will occur this April at the Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum, an educational institute of the Catholic Church in Rome.
(Feature images credit: Getty Images)