For the first time in 14 years, the Roman Catholic Church has opened up its annual exorcism class in Rome to all major Christian faiths in a bid to stem the rising tide of demonic forces around the world.
“The idea is to help each other, to establish best practices if you will,” Father Pedro Barrajon, 61, one of the organizers of the 14th edition of the “Course on Exorcism and Prayer of Liberation,” taking place at the Pontifical University of Regina Apostolorum, told the Telegraph. “This is the first time that different denominations have come together to compare their experiences on exorcisms.”
The one week course which is taught in Italian at a cost of approximately $450 is being held May 6- 11.
It is described as the first course in the world that proposes careful academic and interdisciplinary research of exorcisms.
“Expelling the devil goes back to the earliest origins of the Christian Church,” Barrajon said. “The Catholic rite is very structured, whereas some of the other churches are more creative, they don't use a precise format.”
More than 241 people, both lay and religious, from more than 40 countries signed up for the course this year, Crux Now reported.
“I'm here to understand the Catholic perspective. We are fighting the same enemy in the name of the Lord, even if there are some parts of the Anglican Church that have lost belief in Satan,” course participant Benjamin McEntire, a Protestant priest from Alaska, said.
They all agree that growing secularization has led to a proliferation of satanic groups, especially among young people through social media.
“Many young people display a certain attraction and interest toward themes tied to esotericism, magic, the occult, Satanism, witchcraft, vampirism and contact with a presumed supernatural world,” Italian Professor Giuseppe Ferrari, founder and secretary of the “Social and Religious Research and Information Group,” said during his introductory speech at the event.
“Some end up accepting as spiritual leaders these characters who, while proposing a flawed liberty and false freedom, only aim at taking hold of their existence,” he explained.
While critics of the course have argued that the study of exorcism has no place in modern society, organizers of the event have emphasized a multidisciplinary approach to exorcism that tackles psychology, medicine, law, sociology and criminology in order to help students better understand the changing dynamics and reality of Satanism.
“This view [that exorcisms has no place in modern society] not only displays ignorance and a restricted view of reality, but underlines the conditioning by ideologies that tag as superstition everything that eludes their preconstructed schemes,” Ferrari said of critics.
Indeed, a report in The Christian Post last fall highlighted the astronomical growth of self-identified witches in the U.S.
Ahead of the first annual Christian witches convention in Salem, Massachusetts, in April, internationally recognized Prophet Calvin Witcher argued that Jesus was a sorcerer and the Bible is really a “book of magic.”
“Some believe that this return to exorcism and prayer of liberation is derived from a distancing from God,” Barrajon told journalists.
Ferrari explained that efforts are now underway to assess the number of exorcists in the United States, Canada, England, Ireland, Italy, Spain and Switzerland and monitor the number of requests they receive for exorcisms and prayers of liberation.
“We don’t yet have a reliable number,” he said but he believes that many people who believe they are demon possessed may also be suffering from psychological issues.