Church blames in­ter­net for boom in ex­or­cisms

The Dominion Post - - World -

VAT­I­CAN CITY: De­mand for ex­or­cisms is boom­ing as a re­sult of a de­cline in Chris­tian faith and the in­ter­net pro­vid­ing easy ac­cess to black magic, the oc­cult and Satanism, a Vat­i­can con­fer­ence has been told.

So many peo­ple are now ask­ing to be lib­er­ated from the Devil’s ma­lign clutches that some Catholic priests have taken to say­ing prayers of lib­er­a­tion – a first step to ex­or­cism – over the phone, the con­fer­ence for ex­or­cist priests has heard.

‘‘There are priests who carry out ex­or­cisms on their mo­bile phones. That’s pos­si­ble thanks to Je­sus,’’ said Car­di­nal Ernest Si­moni, an Al­ba­nian who was once tor­tured and im­pris­oned by com­mu­nist au­thor­i­ties but con­tin­ued to per­form fre­quent ex­or­cisms.

His com­ments took some ex­perts by sur­prise, with priests point­ing out that con­duct­ing an ex­or­cism re­motely would not be wise, be­cause peo­ple who are pos­sessed of­ten writhe around vi­o­lently and have to be re­strained to stop them harm­ing them­selves.

‘‘Priests pray with peo­ple on the phone to calm them down, but if you are not there, you can­not control the phys­i­cal as­pects,’’ said Pro­fes­sor Giuseppe Fer­rari, one of the event or­gan­is­ers.

More than 250 priests, psy­chol­o­gists the­olo­gians, and crim­i­nol­o­gists from 51 coun­tries gath­ered at a Catholic uni­ver­sity in Rome yes­ter­day for the start of the week-long con­fer­ence, the only one of its kind in the world.

The con­cept of de­monic pos­ses­sion may be re­garded by ag­nos­tics and athe­ists with scep­ti­cism, even de­ri­sion, but it is a sub­ject of the ut­most se­ri­ous­ness for the Catholic Church.

This is the 13th time the an­nual con­fer­ence has been held at the Regina Apos­tolo­rum pon­tif­i­cal uni­ver­sity, and the num­ber of par­tic­i­pants grows every year.

A be­lief in black magic and Satan was in­creas­ing – and with that, the need for ex­or­cisms, del­e­gates said.

In Italy, it is claimed that over the past decade the num­ber of peo­ple ask­ing for ex­or­cisms has tripled to half a mil­lion. The coun­try now boasts around 300 ex­or­cist priests, with hun­dreds more in other parts of the world.

The Vat­i­can in­sists that every Catholic dio­cese in the world must have a pri­est trained as an ex­or­cist.

‘‘De­mand is grow­ing, ab­so­lutely,’’ said Fr An­thony Bar­ratt, a Bri­tish pri­est based in Al­bany, New York State. ‘‘I think it is partly due to the in­ter­net, which makes [Satanism] so ac­ces­si­ble. Films and tele­vi­sion programmes are also a fac­tor.’’

– Tele­graph Group CANADA/CUBA: The Cana­dian for­eign min­istry is or­der­ing the fam­i­lies of diplo­matic staff in Cuba to re­turn home, amid ques­tions about mys­te­ri­ous health symp­toms de­tected in 10 peo­ple who were sta­tioned on the is­land.

Cana­dian diplo­mats will no longer be ac­com­pa­nied by fam­ily mem­bers in Cuba be­cause of what the min­istry yes­ter­day called ‘‘on­go­ing un­cer­tainty’’ over the cause of the ail­ments. The spouses, chil­dren and par­ents of diplo­mats al­ready in Ha­vana will be­gin leav­ing im­me­di­ately.

The move comes after 10 Cana­di­ans con­tinue to show un­ex­plained brain symp­toms, and after ‘‘med­i­cal in­for­ma­tion raised con­cerns for a new type of a pos­si­ble ac­quired brain in­jury’’, the min­istry said. The symp­toms have in­cluded dizzi­ness and headaches.

The United States State Depart­ment cut staff at its em­bassy in Oc­to­ber be­cause of sim­i­lar symp­toms af­fect­ing 24 Amer­i­can diplo­mats and de­pen­dents.

For­mer US sec­re­tary of state Rex Tiller­son said the symp­toms re­sulted from ‘‘tar­geted at­tacks’’ but it was not known who may have been be­hind them.

Cuba has re­peat­edly de­nied ei­ther in­volve­ment in or knowl­edge of any at­tacks, and has said its own in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the ill­nesses has turned up no ev­i­dence of de­lib­er­ate ac­tion.

The US has not ac­cused Cuba of such ac­tion but has said Ha­vana holds re­spon­si­bil­ity nonethe­less, ar­gu­ing that such in­ci­dents could not have oc­curred on the small, com­mu­nist-run is­land without the knowl­edge of Cuban of­fi­cials.

The Cana­dian gov­ern­ment said the re­sults of an en­vi­ron­men­tal as­sess­ment of diplo­matic staff quar­ters in Ha­vana, in­clud­ing tests of air and wa­ter qual­ity, did not in­di­cate any­thing that could point to a cause. –AP

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