The exorcism course’s 16th edition is taking place in Rome this week, with the participation of around 120 people, most of whom come from countries outside Italy, including the United States, Colombia, Mexico, Brazil, Spain, and Nigeria. Attendance is down only slightly from 2019, the last in-person event before the outbreak of the coronavirus crisis.
While only a priest can perform the rite of exorcism, laypeople often assist at the rite with prayers. When someone is believed to be having trouble with demonic oppression or possession, psychologists or other medical professionals may also be called in to perform examinations, to rule out natural causes for disturbances.
Researchers from GRIS, an Italian socio-religious research group, have been studying the ministry of exorcists in the Church, including “mapping” their presence — or lack of it — in Catholic dioceses.
On May 16, they presented some of their early findings, while highlighting that “exorcism is a sensitive topic which creates difficulties” for research.
Initial findings in interviews with exorcist priests, they said, showed “conditions of isolation.”
“There are complaints of a certain lack of support or communication from dioceses and/or other priests. The isolation of the exorcist affects the ways in which the afflicted people are supported,” the presentation said.
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