The Catholic Church says it's dealing with a spike in Satanic worship by training a growing team of specialized priests to keep the devil at bay.
A new push to train priests in Italy and Spain to perform the mysterious rite of exorcism could rid these two Catholic countries of their demons - or at least confront a growth in occult worship.
Every weekday morning (except Thursdays), 76-year-old Father Vincenzo Taraborelli receives parishioners with a particular spiritual dilemma after the 8:30am mass in the Church of Traspontina, a stone's throw away from St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. In an incense-thick, candlelit corner of the church, he blesses the troubled with a prayer and holy water to ward off evil spirits. On Wednesday mornings before mass, he recites the rosary in a special prayer of liberation from the chains of the devil. The followers in the pews are glued to his every word, seemingly dependent on his blessing to keep the devil at bay.
Father Taraborelli is a trained exorcist for the Rome diocese, and his work schedule is very busy
. He takes calls to set up appointments for private exorcisms on a dedicated cellphone number he only answers between 9 and 10pm each night. The rest of the time, he is performing the Catholic ritual to those in need.
"The church is very clear on the rite of exorcism," he told The Daily Beast
after one of his spiritual cleansing sessions this week. First, the person requesting the exorcism must be seen by a physician to make sure the cause of the perceived possession is not mental illness. That, he says, is at the crux of why Pope Francis wants to train more exorcists. "Exorcists need to be certified to eliminate the practice of exorcism by untrained novices," Taraborelli says. "Otherwise it can be very dangerous for the person who believes he is under the devil's possession."