A pontifical university in Rome is planning a major conference on exorcisms, as experts warn that more and more priests are needed to combat demonic influence.
Next month the Regina Apostolorum University will host a conference on exorcism and demonic activity, at which Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints, will speak.
Italy needs more trained exorcists after a surge in occult activity, according to a priest who trains exorcists for the diocese of Palermo.
Fr Benigno Palilla told Vatican Radio that more and more Italians were turning to spiritually dangerous activities.
The consumer organisation Codacons say that 13 million Italians – about a quarter of the adult population – have visited astrologers, fortune tellers and tarot card readers – which, Fr Palilla remarked, can “open the door to the devil and to possession”.
Vatican Radio suggested that there are about half a million requests for exorcists each year, though only a small minority will actually need prayers of deliverance, let alone a full exorcism. Often the cause will be a psychological or spiritual problem.