The need for trained exorcists in Italy has become so acute that the Church has established the first-ever hotline in its biggest diocese – Milan – to cope with demand.
The Daily Mail is reporting that the hotline is in operation from Monday through Friday from 2:30 to 5:00 p.m. and gives callers the name, address and phone numbers of trained priests in their area.
Monsignor Angelo Mascheroni, Milan’s chief exorcist since 1995, said that the number of people coming to the church for help has doubled in the last 15 years and necessitated not only the hotline, but an increase in the number of priests trained in exorcism, which it doubled from six to twelve.
“People in need can call and will be able to find a priest in the same area who doesn’t have to travel too far,” he said.
The problem is so bad that one exorcist he knows has been seeing up to 120 people a day. “But with so little time per client he was only able to offer a quick blessing. That’s not enough,” he said. ”There should be two to four appointments a day, no more, otherwise it’s too much.”
Italy has been experiencing a dramatic rise in occult activity over the last five years. A 2007 estimate by Don Oreste Benzi, one of the Vatican’s leading experts on Satanism, found the country infested with more than 8,000 Satanic sects claiming as many as 600,000 members. The problem is so bad that priests were added to the Squadra Anti Sette (SAS) anti-sect squad in Rome to assist police in handling the crimes and other problems associated with a rise in occult practices.
Milan is a particularly appropriate place to beef up its inventory of exorcists. It was the scene of one of the grisliest murders in Italian history when a group known as the “Beasts of Satan” bludgeoned two of their members and then buried them alive in the woods near Milan.
Monsignor Mascheroni said most of the hotline calls come from parents who are concerned about their children.
“Usually the parents call [because they are] concerned about a child who won’t go to school or who’s taking drugs or rebelling. In reality it’s not a demon, but when they’re 18 years old young people don’t want to be told what to do.”
Real demonic possession is rare, but demonic infestations and oppressions are actually quite common in this day and age.
Signs of an infestation include manifestations most people associate with “hauntings” such as poltergeist activity, the sound of tapping or footsteps, clocks going backward or lights turning on and off. Oppressions are more intense with the demon acting upon a victim in a much more personal way, such as causing mental confusion, depression, insomnia, paranoia, etc.