According to this article by National Public Radio (NPR), the priest in charge of the Office of Exorcism for the Archdiocese of Manilla, Father Jose Francisco Syquia, says his case load has exploded to 200 so far this year.
“At any given time we have at the minimum 30 cases,” said the 48-year-old priest. “And we’re only five exorcists.”
Father Syquia’s team of exorcists relies on additional help from psychiatrists, doctors, lawyers, and the laity, but it’s not enough to handle the demand. This is why he felt compelled to send a letter to the Philippine bishop’s conference asking them to send one resident exorcist to each of the country’s 86 dioceses.
“[The] majority of them do not have exorcists or a team of exorcists that deal with these kinds of cases,” says Syquia. “Therefore many of the Filipinos tend to go to the occult practitioners, what we call the faith healers, spiritists, etc.”
Syquia believes these healers are responsible for the increased number of demonic possessions because they open doors to the demonic in ways that allow evil spirits to attach themselves to people.
Known as “portals” by some, once these doors are opened to the spiritual realm, demons are able to attack a person more directly through various forms of infestation and oppression, leading up to eventual possession. If the door remains closed, they can only harrass a person indirectly such as by tempting them to sin.
Practices that open these portals involve any kind of occult activity such as by consulting mediums and horoscopes, contacting the dead and divining the future through tarot cards, palm reading ouija boards or horoscopes. Dabbling in the New Age and engaging in oriental mysticism such as meditation methods that blank the mind and induce an altered state of consciousness are also very common ways that portals are open.
The pervasiveness of these practices is causing an increase in demonic manifestations around the world and has caused many Church officials to respond by training more exorcists.
It’s a tough job. In addition to the hard work of exorcism, which require repeated sessions of prayer that can last up to four hours, the priests also have to deal with retaliation from the spirits they encounter.
“You expect that there will be more, what we call, retaliations because you are jumping into enemy territory and retaking … what truly belongs to God,” Syquia told NPR. “And therefore it’s more like maybe a commando raid behind enemy lines.”
The courageous priests who are involved in the work of exorcism and deliverance are in need of our constant prayers asking God to protect them from retaliation from the powerful forces with which they are routinely engaged.