The demand for exorcisms around the world has been growing with the decline of Christianity and some priests are so overwhelmed with requests for liberation from evil spirits they are being forced to rebuke demons by telephone.
At a weeklong conference that kicked off at a Catholic university in Rome Monday, more than 250 priests, theologians, psychologists and criminologists from 51 countries rang the alarm on exploding demonic activity being fueled in part by access to the occult via the internet, The Telegraph reported.
"Demand is growing, absolutely," Father Anthony Barratt, a British priest who is based in Albany, New York, said at the conference. "I think it is partly due to the internet, which makes it (Satanism) so accessible. Films and television programs are also a factor. There's a fascination."
Cardinal Ernest Simoni, an Albanian who was tortured and imprisoned by the Communist authorities and performed frequent exorcisms after his release said the power of God has made it possible for priests to conduct deliverance prayers by telephone.
"There are priests who carry out exorcisms on their mobile phones. That's possible thanks to Jesus," he said.
In Italy, exorcists claim that in the last 10 years the number of people requesting exorcisms has tripled to 500,000.
The Vatican insists, according to The Telegraph, that every Catholic diocese in the world must have a priest trained as an exorcist. In Italy alone, there are some 300 exorcist priests while hundreds more are located in other parts of the world.
To get rid of demons priests are said to recite the Roman Ritual of Exorcism, prepared by Pope Leo XIII in 1884. The ritual calls on God, Christ and all the saints to "repulse the attacks and deceits of the Devil."
Demon-possessed individuals are said to often develop supernatural strength, experience voice changes and speak languages they never studied, much like some depictions in Hollywood movies such as "The Rite."
"Most commonly they speak Latin, Hebrew and Aramaic," Father Pedro Barrajon, a Spanish priest and a past organizer of the unique annual exorcist conference said. "If you show them a holy object, like a rosary or a cross or a picture of the Madonna, they go into shock and start yelling."
The trained experts noted that they use certain tests to distinguish the demon-possessed from people who are just mentally ill.
"There's a protocol. A person will be referred by the parish priest. There may then be an assessment by a psychologist. They may be bipolar or there could be issues with drug abuse, which does serious damage to the brain. It's a lengthy process," Father Barratt said. "Only a very small number of people need an exorcism."
Father Jose Enrique Oyarzun, a professor of theology and philosophy who opened the conference, however, said the Church needs to fight against the dark march of demons.
"We need to confront the reality of something that has always been present in the life of the Church," he said.
"The Devil roars around us like a lion. The father of lies is more and more sought after. Digital technology is invigorating him and leading people astray. The phenomenon is very, very widespread."