Sicilian priest and trained exorcist Benigno Palilla has blamed tarot card readers and fortune tellers for the rising cases of demonic possession in Italy. The Vatican has reportedly set up a new training course in exorcism after the demand for exorcists increased by three times.
Palilla told Vatican Radio that 500,000 alleged cases of demonic possession are reported in Italy every year, which he said was boosted by the increasing number of people seeking tarot card readings and fortune tellers' advice. According to Palilla, these practices "open the door to the devil and to possession."
Consumer organization Codacons found that a quarter of Italians regularly visit tarot card readers or fortune tellers.
However, the priest stated that not all cases of possession turned out to be the work of Satanic forces. Some of them may be related to psychological or spiritual problems.
To address the increased demand for exorcism, a week-long international conference will be held from April 16, 2018, in the Vatican. A training program for exorcists is being set up as the Church is worried that priests lack skills in exorcism.
Palilla believes priests no longer have the enthusiasm to learn the techniques of exorcism. This was assessed after a four-day meeting held in Sicily recently that included discussions of sects and Satanism.
"We priests, very often, do not know how to deal with the concrete cases presented to us: in the preparation for the priesthood, we do not talk about these things," Palilla told Vatican Radio. "A self-taught exorcist certainly meets errors. I will say more: it would also take a period of apprenticeship, as happens for many professionals."
Palilla believes that an exorcist should work alongside an expert and be trained in these matters before he is appointed by the bishop. He stated that people who are possessed by demons "suffer a lot and, unfortunately, are not included in the registry of the Church."
Exorcism has been recognized by the Canon law after the Vatican backed the International Association of Exorcists in 2014. The group has 240 members in Italy and 400 all over the world.