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World News

Demand for exorcisms boomed during the pandemic, Catholic priest says

by Kelly Valencia

The number of people requesting an exorcism rose during the pandemic as many people felt the worldwide health crisis meant "Satan or some evil entity has taken over their lives," an Italian priest said. 

Fr Father Gian Matteo Roggio made the remarks to the audience attending the 15th exorcists convention, which after a year's hiatus, is taking place in the Vatican-affiliated university Ateneo Pontificio Regina Apostolorum this week. 

"People have fallen into poverty; they found themselves suffering from anxiety and depression. They feel that their lives are no longer in their own hands but in the hands of a malign force. It's a big crisis," Fr Roggio told The Telegraph.

During the conference, many priests shared their experiences during the last year and said they had been "overwhelmingly asked to exorcise Covid from people who were sick", another priest Fr Miguel Martin told The Daily Beast.

"We were told under no circumstance should we perform the rite on a Covid patient," Fr Martin continued. 

The conference runs a seminar entitled 'Exorcism and Prayer of Liberation' and teaches priests from across the world how to carry out exorcisms, how to discern whether the person is suffering from a psychiatric disorder or is actually possessed. 

"People speak languages they have never spoken before, even ancient tongues like Aramaic, Latin, Greek and Hebrew. They're able to levitate off the ground or they vomit objects like nails and pieces of glass. There are people whose voices change completely - a woman might start speaking like a man. Some develop superhuman strength and it takes four or five people to restrain them," Father Roggio continued.

This is the first time in the conference's history that lay people have been allowed in, so many devout believers, university professors and psychologists have been able to attend.  

Prof Giuseppe Ferrari, one of the organisers, also blamed the rise on films and the internet for allegedly promoting an interest in spiritualism. 

"Young people are being attracted to exploring witchcraft, vampirism, black magic and the occult by the mass media," Prof Ferrari told The Telegraph. "It's a phenomenon that is growing and it is really worrying."

Earlier this year, the Baptist Union of Great Britain issued a warning against people turning to spiritualism to help with their grieving process.

The Vatican course also includes seminars on Afro-Brazilian magic rites, which are not in line with Catholic teaching and cost £380. 

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