Surge in Satanism sparks call for more exorcists
A SURGE in Satanism, facilitated by the internet, has led to a sharp rise in the demand for exorcists, the Roman Catholic Church has warned.
Fr Gabriele Amorth, the Vatican's chief exorcist, also claimed that sex abuse scandals involving the Catholic Church were proof that Satan was "waging a war against the Holy See".
The internet has made it easier than ever to access information on Devil-worshipping and the occult, experts said.
Exorcism is the subject of a six-day conference being held this week at the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical University in Rome, which is under the Vatican's authority.
"The internet makes it much easier than in the past to find information about Satanism," said Carlo Climati, a member of the university who specialises in Satanism and young people.
"In just a few minutes you can contact Satanist groups and research occultism.
"The conference is not about how to become an exorcist, it's to share information about exorcism, Satanism and sects. There is a particular risk for young people who are in difficulties or who are emotionally fragile," he said.
The object of the seminars was to scrutinise Satanism with "seriousness and scientific rigour", avoiding a "superficial or sensational approach", he added. The conference in Rome has brought together more than 60 Catholic clergy as well as doctors, psychologists, psychiatrists, and teachers.
In theory, any priest can perform an exorcism -- a rite involving prayers to drive the Devil out of the person said to be possessed. But Vatican officials said three years ago that parish priests should call in professional exorcists if they suspected a parishioner needed purging of evil.
An exorcist should be called when "the moral certainty has been reached that the person is possessed", said the Fr Gabriele Nanni, a member of the Vatican's congregation for the causes of saints.
He said that the indications could include radical and disturbing changes in the person's behaviour and voice, or an ability to garble in foreign languages or nonsensical gibberish.
Fr Gabriele Amorth said people who are possessed by Satan vomit shards of glass and pieces of iron, scream, dribble and slobber. He added that Pope Benedict XVI believed "wholeheartedly" in the practice of exorcism. ( © Daily Telegraph, London)