The Vatican’s Congregation for Clergy approved exorcisms by officially recognizing the International Association of Exorcists under canon law, a system of practices created and enforced by the Church’s highest authorities to further Catholicism. The association that was recognized on July 1st consists of 250 priests across 30 countries who are known to carry out religious ceremonies in order to liberate believers from demonic possession.
Despite being known for his liberal leanings, Pope Francis has been a longtime supporter of exorcism. In May 2013, he reportedly exorcised a disabled man who was allegedly possessed by the devil. After the incident, the Vatican asserted that the Pope had not performed an exorcism and he had only prayed for the sufferer who had been brought to him.
The official recognition of the association comes after dioceses in Italy and Spain suddenly increased the number of priests trained to perform exorcisms. According to the Church, the number of demonic possessions seems to have risen recently because more people are engaging in dark practices like paganism, black magic, Ouija boards and satanic rites with the help of information that is freely available on the internet. Dioceses in Italy and Spain have said that they are training more priests to perform exorcisms in an attempt to do away with unauthorized, self-anointed exorcists who may not be able to do the job right.
“Diabolical possessions are on the increase as a result of people subscribing to occultism. The few exorcists that we have in the dioceses are often not able to handle the enormous number of requests for help,” said Francesco Bamonte, president of the Italy-based International Association for Exorcists, which was founded in 1933 and claims to have conducted thousands of exorcisms since then.So long, the Church had insisted that the majority of people who believe they have been possessed by the devil are actually victims of some mental condition or the other and priests had urged believers to seek medical help for respite. However, in a few cases, the Church judged that a people were indeed possessed by the devil
and officially sanctioned exorcisms to help them. With the recent recognition however, the Church is likely to sanction more exorcisms.