Hundreds of priests flock to exorcism summit

What happened?

More than 250 priests gathered in Rome for a week-long course on exorcism. The event, held at the Legionaries of Christ-run Pontifical Regina Apostolorum University, included sessions on witchcraft in Africa and how to distinguish between demonic possession and mental illness.The annual course was first held in 2005. Since then the number of participants has doubled. Clergy in Italy, Ireland and the United States say that demand for the rite has soared in recent years.

What the media are saying

Many outlets led with the news that some priests are carrying out exorcisms on their mobile phones. But the news was somewhat misunderstood, as Cardinal Ernest Simoni, an 89-year-old Albanian who gave the keynote address, may have been referring to prayers of deliverance rather than full exorcisms.

Professor Giuseppe Ferrari, one of the course organisers, told the Daily Telegraph: “Priests pray with people on the phone to calm them down, but if you are not there you cannot control the physical aspects.” But he said that some priests had tried to carry out parts of the rite by phone. “Whether it is orthodox or correct, I couldn’t say.”

The New York Times noted that Cardinal Simoni had “encountered evil first-hand, surviving decades in prisons and work camps”. Delegates asked for his advice on exorcisms based on his years of experience.

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