“True demonic possession is rare, thank God,” says Fr John Abberton, and as the official exorcist for the Diocese of Leeds, he should know. Once responsible for his own parish, he recently asked the bishop for more time to devote to his exorcism ministry. He sees a steady stream of people.
Fr Abberton has been in the game for a while – 20 years in fact – and he’s become tired of what he calls the lurid interest in “Hollywood exorcism”: the kind portrayed in films and books, where writing appears on torsos and bodies levitate.
Although he tells me there are elements of truth in these depictions – he has personally witnessed someone’s eyes rolling back into their head so that only the whites are visible – he says the way the Devil attacks people is far more subtle.