We’re living in strange times. Then again, was there ever a point in history which wasn’t strange? For whatever reason, cases of alleged demonic possession have been on the rise in recent years and show now signs of stopping. Religious institutions around the world have been reporting an exponential increase in the amount of exorcisms performed by clergy, and many churches are failing to meet the demand due to a lack of trained exorcists. In a sign that perhaps this problem is in fact being taken seriously by global religious leaders, the Vatican itself has issued a call for increased exorcism training to combat the demonic forces reportedly running amok here on the Earthly plane. Are these possessions merely a psychosocial phenomenon, or are dark forces truly on the rise?
In an interview with Vatican Radio, Italian priest and trained exorcist Benigno Palilla says that reports of demonic possessions have been on the rise for some years and are continuing to increase. In Italy alone, over a half a million cases of possession were reported last year. Palilia blames the phenomenon on the rising popularity of occult beliefs and practices like tarot cards, fortune telling, and and other seemingly innocuous activities which he claims “open the door to the devil and to possession.”
Palilla claims that while many self-taught exorcists advertising their services in response to the growing possession problem, these amateurs are likely to make mistakes and suggests true exorcists must undergo an apprenticeship through the church in order to gain the skills necessary to correctly pin screaming children to beds and throw holy water at them.
To meet the growing demand for trained exorcists, the Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum, a Rome-based Catholic education facility, will hold a six-day course this April on exorcism, demons, and combating the forces of Satan. Looking for a career change? “Demon Hunter” would look pretty rad on your CV.