17 April 2015
Hannah Roberts in Rome
Increase in demand for exorcisms leads to training for lay and clergy
A course sponsored by the Vatican this week prepared priests as well as teachers and doctors to cope with a rising tide of reported demonic possessions.
A team of experts including practising exorcists gave seminars and explained the tools needed to recognise a case of demonic possession– and what to do about it.
The tenth edition of the annual course, ‘Exorcism and Prayer of Liberation,’ sponsored by the Vatican Congregation for the Clergy, was to run for six days at Rome's Regina Apostolorum University.
Some of those attending credited Pope Francis with the surge in interest in exorcisms.
In 2013 some people believed that Francis performed an exorcism on a young man in a wheelchair who shook violently when the Pope laid his hands on him and said a blessing.
He has frequently expressed the belief that the devil really exists.
Fr Cesare Truqui, a Mexican exorcist priest, said: “Pope Francis talks about the devil all the time and has certainly raised awareness about exorcisms.” He said that belief in the devil is an integral part of the faith for Latin Americans.
Fr Pedro Barrajon, director of the Sacerdos Institute, which is organising the course, said the rise was also down to "an increasingly secularised society" in which "there is more tendency to open the door to the occult."
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