Catholic priests worried over, an 'extraordinary increase in demonic activity' have blamed the youth indulging in occult practises for the spike in cases of exorcisms.
Back in October, the 300-member International Association of Exorcists even convened a meeting to discuss the impact of the occult and Satanism. Valter Cascioli, a spokesman for the group, stated in a publicised statement that there has been an "extraordinary increase in demonic activity."
Several Catholic priests reportedly have even met Pope Francis to discuss on the implication of the change as more and more people are seeking the help of priests to perform exorcisms.
"There has been a greater demand for people to call and talk to exorcists. From a faith perspective it may seem like the devil has upped his game, so to speak. I don't think the devil has upped his game, but more people are inclined to play that game... Demonic possession is a possibility. It could happen but it's extremely rare," Father Vince Lampert, an exorcist for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis told IBTimes.
It is found that practicing the dark arts or the occult could lead to several kinds of demonic possessions. The Catholic priests deal with cases of "vexation" and "obsession" with counseling,while in the case of an "infestation" which means that the devil is being harbored at a particular site, the exorcists have to take the 'possessed' to holy grounds such as the church.
In the extreme cases of demonic possession, the priests such as Lampert first 'purify' themselves by fasting, confessing and attending the Mass, before taking up the exorcism.
Father Lampert, however, makes it a point to first suggest the victims to consult a psychologist. Lampert's assistant, Mary Chasteen, gets over 500 phone calls and e-mails each year.
But, "The hardest phone calls are the mothers with schizophrenic children. Of course they're desperate, of course they're in pain. They hope it is demonic possession because it would be a cure," she says.
It was back in 2007 that the then Pope Benedict XVI ordered his bishops to set up exorcism squads to tackle the rise of Satanism. And following this each bishop in his diocese was asked to set aside a number of priests trained to fight demonic possession.
In theory, as per the Catholic Church's Canon Law 1172, any ordained Catholic priest has the power to perform exorcism, but in reality there are only a select few, who are assigned the task.
Under the sacred law, those who take up exorcism must have "piety, knowledge, prudence, and integrity of life." The rite of exorcism involves a series of gestures and prayers to invoke the power of God and stop the "demon" influencing its victim.
The Roman Catholic Church as dictated by the Vatican on several occasions previously have also raised concern that young people were getting exposed to the influence of Satanic sects through rock music and the Internet.