- A Vatican-approved religious university in Rome held an exorcism course with 120 participants.
- They said they needed more help to distinguish being possessed from mental illness, according to The Times.
- Pope Francis gave speeches on helping “those possessed by evil,” according to the report.
A survey by a Vatican-approved religious university in Rome found that Catholic exorcists feel overworked and undersupported by bishops, according to The Times of London.
Italian exorcists spoke to researchers at the 16th annual Regina Apostolorum exorcism course in Rome, which was attended by 120 participants, The Times reported.
The class drew a large crowd thanks to Pope Francis’ support for exorcism, according to the newspaper. He has previously spoken of helping those who are “possessed by evil”, according to The Times, and has made exorcism an official Catholic practice, according to the Independent.
Exorcists at the conference said they needed more support from psychologists to determine whether people are mentally unstable or demon-possessed, The Times reported.
Father Giuseppe Bernardi claimed to have performed a nine-hour exorcism on a woman who swore at him in Latin and assaulted monks, according to the newspaper.
The woman’s father believed she was suffering from “a psychiatric problem”, reported the Journal of Vicenza. But the mother, and later Bernardi, believed she was possessed by “demonic influence”.
Bernardi said he had to seek help from psychologists to determine if she was deranged or possessed, but did so without help from the church, according to The Times.
The lack of support from bishops is a grievance echoed by other exorcists interviewed, the Times said. They complained of receiving little help in exorcising the long lines of Catholics claiming satanic possession.
Exorcists also said they had been commissioned to perform exorcisms on people with COVID-19, The Times reported.
Conference attendees claimed that demonic possession could be recognized by unusual physical strength, vomiting, or a sudden ability to speak Latin, Hebrew, or Aramaic.
Italy has 290 exorcists and 37 in Spain, according to the survey. “Many of the potentially possessed people they see in Spain have spent time with the New Age, spiritual or
groups,” the researchers said.
In the UK and Ireland there were 28 working exorcists, and in Manila, Philippines there was a “dedicated office and team”.