Every now and then we experience an uptick in a trend that we can’t really explain, like fidget spinners, drinking charcoal, or getting exorcisms. Yes, that’s right. Exorcisms.
According to The Local, Sicilian priest and trained exorcist Benigno Palilla told Vatican Radio there are about 500,000 cases requiring exorcism in Italy each year. The Vatican has set up exorcism training courses to cope with the surprisingly high demand, Vatican News reported.
So, is there something in the water or are way too many people playing with Ouija boards in Italy?
Palilla blames this uptick on the growing number of people seeking out fortune tellers, astrologers, and Tarot card readers. These things “open the door to the devil and to possession,” he claimed on Vatican Radio. But he also said more of these cases involved psychological issues rather than actual demon possession.
Palilla holds classes on exorcism in Palermo, Sicily, along with other speakers who are experts on Satanism.
Exorcism can be a pretty controversial topic, even among devout Catholics. Even the Catholic Church, which accepts demonic possession as an occurrence, says it is very rare and the majority of cases turn out to be people suffering from mental illnesses.
The first guidelines for exorcism were set forth in 1614, but were revised in 1999 with more emphasis against mistaking an illness for possession. The new guidelines state that a rite must only be performed “after diligent inquiry and after having consulted experts in spiritual matters and, if felt appropriate, experts in medical and psychiatric science who have a sense of spiritual reality.” The more recent guidelines also call for a full media ban on any rites performed in order to avoid “spectacle.”
The Church backed the International Association of Exorcists, founded by Father Gabriele Amorth, the Vatican’s chief exorcist, in 2014. A majority of its members are based in Italy.