A member of the International Association of Exorcist (IAE) says the worldwide lack of exorcists – coupled with a dramatic increase in dabbling in the dark arts – has resulted in a “pastoral emergency.”
The Telegraph is reporting on an interview with Dr. Valter Cascioli, a psychologist and scientific consultant to the Vatican-endorsed IAE who described the lack of trained priests capable of fighting the forces of evil to be a genuine emergency.
“The lack of exorcists is a real emergency. There is a pastoral emergency as a result of a significant increase in the number of diabolical possessions that exorcist priests are confronting,” he told La Stampa newspaper. “The number of people who take part in occult and satanic practices, which lead to serious physical, psychological and spiritual damages, is constantly rising.”
Even though the number of exorcists has increased in recent years, there still aren’t enough to deal with the fallout from a dramatic increase in satanic activity that is especially affecting young people.
“There is a broad spread of superstitious practices, and with that a growing number of requests for help from people who are directly or indirectly struck by evil,” he said. “It is dangerous to underestimate a phenomenon that is caused by the direct actions of the devil, but also by a decline in faith and values.”
He is calling for the establishment of a permanent training college or university where Catholic priests can be taught how to counter the influence of Satan in the world today.
“There doesn’t exist a training institution at university level. We need an interdisciplinary approach in which science collaborates with religion, and psychiatrists work with demonologists and exorcists.”
Dr. Cascioli, who teaches courses in exorcism at the Pontifical University of Regina Apostolorum, said that although only one percent of people who claim to be having problems with Satan are actually in need of an exorcist, there is still an ever growing number of people who are being plagued by other demonic manifestations such as oppression and infestations.
His call comes just days after two leading exorcists in the U.S. reported that they were struggling to keep up with the demand for exorcisms.
Father Gary Thomas, whose training in Rome was the subject of the book and movie, The Rite, and Father Vincent Lampert, whose work was featured on the television show Paranormal Witness, said demonic possessions were the result of an increase in drug and pornography addiction. A rise in the popularity of “pagan activities” such as using a Ouija board, coupled with the spiritual void in the lives of Americans who are leaving the Church, are also major contributing factors to the problem.
“We’re gaining all sorts of knowledge, but there’s still that emptiness within us that is being filled with addictive behavior such as drugs and pornography,” said Father Lampert, of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. “The decline in faith goes hand in hand with the rise in evil.”
It has been his experience that only one out of every 5,000 requests is from someone who is genuinely possessed, but he has conducted “countless exorcisms related to demonic obsession, demonic vexation, and demonic infestation” with half of those calls coming from non-Catholics.
He has found that the most common occult activity that leads to trouble is playing with the Ouija board.
“Religion is viewed as outdated and not very exciting. So evil can be invited in directly or indirectly. A lot of people have contacted me and said something like, ‘We were playing with a Ouija board and all of a sudden our friend starting speaking in this crazy language that we didn’t understand. And strange things started happening – things moving in the house’.”
Other dangerous activities include séances, and contact with mediums; reading Tarot cards; casting spells and curses through witches and warlocks, and worshipping Satan and other demons.
Father Thomas, the official exorcist for the diocese of San Jose, California, says that in the past 10 years he has performed 50 to 60 exorcisms.
“I am a full-time pastor and this is a very intense ministry,” he said. “Almost every free night that I have is taken up with exorcisms.”
In spite of the dangers of their work, both Father Thomas and Father Lampert say they have never been afraid to confront Satan in an exorcism. Father Thomas believes this is his calling and the lack of fear is a grace. Father Lampert remains fearless because evil must somehow be invited in and he would never be receptive to evil.
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