Catholic exorcists are reportedly overwhelmed and overworked, with requests for spiritual healing continuing to ramp up and surpass capabilities, according to a new survey of priests.
Exorcists attending the Vatican’s annual conference reportedly shared several needs, including more help from psychologists to properly delineate between those suffering from mental versus spiritual afflictions.
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Possession is generally seen as the overtaking of one’s body and abilities by a demonic entity. Numerous examples of possession — and healing — are shown throughout Scripture.
Though controversy surrounds the finer details of the spiritual warfare battle as it plays out today, experts rely on mental health providers to determine between physical and spiritual distress.
People suffering from possession often have supernatural or intensified physical strength and can sometimes speak in languages unfamiliar to the host. Mark 5:1-10 (NIV) showcases just one such example:
They went across the lake to the region of the Gerasenes. When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an impure spirit came from the tombs to meet him. This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain. For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones.
When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him. He shouted at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? In God’s name don’t torture me!” For Jesus had said to him, “Come out of this man, you impure spirit!”
Then Jesus asked him, “What is your name?”
“My name is Legion,” he replied, “for we are many.” And he begged Jesus again and again not to send them out of the area.
That story, of course, ends with the man’s healing and with the demons being sent into a herd of pigs.
Today, some people claim they face similar examples of spiritual duress, with exorcists struggling to keep up.
Catholic priests present at the conference — the 16th of its kind — discussed not receiving enough support from bishops as they grapple with more and more people claiming to need spiritual healing, The Insider reported.
Some priests claimed to have between 30 to 50 people per day who need to be assessed to determine whether spiritual constraints and evils are causing problems in their lives.
The survey was reportedly conducted by the Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum, a Catholic educational institute in Rome. The 120 leaders gathered purportedly shared their concerns with researchers.
According to the National Catholic Register, this is the first time such research has been conducted, with GRIS, an Italian research group, spearheading the work.
Possession and exorcism are two issues in the Christian arena that often spark debate and intrigue. While some churches avoid these topics, pop culture is replete with feature films and shows that seek to explore evil, though often on shaky theological ground.
In Protestant circles, some refer to the expulsion of evil as “deliverance” rather than exorcism. Reports continue to emerge of an influx of requests for such healings.
One priest reportedly said he had plans to offer a daily exorcism ritual to free Russian President Vladimir Putin of demons. And last December, a shocking report out of Italy generated international headlines and conjecture about demonic possession after a 28-year-old woman purportedly went through a nine-hour exorcism after attacking a priest during confession.
“It was a real possession, and it was only in the evening that the situation was resolved when the girl physically collapsed,” Father Carlo Rossato is quoted as proclaiming.
For more stories of spiritual warfare and healing, be sure to read “Playing with Fire: A Modern Investigation into Demons, Exorcism, and Ghosts,” a book that dives deep — through a journalistic and Christian lens — into the cultural discussion about spiritual warfare, demons, exorcism in the Bible and other related topics.
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