The Guardian

Exorcists are back – and people are getting hurt | Deborah Hyde

The rise of exorcism in Catholic and evangelical churches is like a new Inquisition. But there are ways to stop the witch-hunt
Don Gabriele Amorth, exorcist in the diocese of Rome, who died in 2016. Photograph: Giulio Napolitano/AFP/Getty Images

Exorcism is intrinsic to Christianity. From driving possessed swine into a lake to expelling a spirit from a boy who foamed at the mouth, Jesus could reasonably be considered a therapeutic exorcist. So it’s hard to tell some churches to get real and rational – although, regrettably, that message is as relevant as ever.

The Vatican has just set up a new , following an alleged increase in demonic possession. According to the Sicilian priest and exorcist Benigno Palilla, speaking on Vatican Radio, there are , and demand for assistance has tripled. To claim that such a large number of Italians have been inadvertently contaminated by Satan, like some paranormal STD, is a significant aspersion on a nation of 60 million people. Palilla lays the blame on people who visit fortune-tellers and tarot-readers. These practices “open the door to the devil and to possession”.

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from The Guardian

The Guardian3 min read
Peter Fonda, The Easy Rider Who Tested The Hippy Dream | Ed Vulliamy
The actor was a 60s icon but was also among the first in that era to tackle a bitterly divided America
The Guardian9 min read
Jada Pinkett Smith: 'The Word "Wife": It's A Golden Cage, Swallow The Key'
She put her film career on hold and let husband Will Smith become a megastar. Now Jada Pinkett Smith’s candid chat show is opening up truthful conversations around kitchen tables everywhere
The Guardian3 min readPolitics
Greenlanders On Trump: ‘We Are Neither For Sale Nor Can Be Bought’
Guardian readers from Greenland share their reactions to Donald Trump’s idea to buy the country