The Catholic church has, in recent years, reported a significant increase in the number of U.S. dioceses electing to employ official exorcists — growing from just 12 in 2006 to a present 50. But why?
Beginning in 2004, the late Pope John Paul II began warning the world that occult activity in Europe was beginning to “rage out of control” and would increasingly provide gateways through which evil entities could more easily attach themselves to human beings. The current Pope Francis has added his agreement to this by affirming that “Satan is real,” and that his servants move among us.
One of the men currently combating this on behalf of the Church is Fr. Gary Thomas, a priest working in the Diocese of San Jose, California, whose work has been the basis for a book and subsequent movie called “The Rite,” starring Anthony Hopkins. The Telegraph reports:
Fr Thomas tries to answer all exorcism inquiries that come to him. “Often the stories are very complicated and many (seeking help) have been suffering for a long time” he says. He describes his correspondents as “desperate” people who have had no positive results from going down the path of psychology and psychiatry.
“They’re sick in one way or another,” he explains. “And sometimes they do have a demonic problem. These are the local ones (in my parish).”
In the past 10 years, Fr Thomas has performed 50 to 60 exorcisms. Sometimes he gets requests for exorcism from outside the US, recently from Turkey, but most commonly from India and Africa.
“I am a full-time pastor and this is a very intense ministry. Almost every free night that I have is taken up with exorcisms,” he says.
“I could conduct one or two exorcisms a week for demonic attachment (as opposed to full possession). People could be quite functional but once they get into a sacred arena, such as a church, or participate in some element of parish, they’ll begin to manifest or they’ll begin to get sick or they’ll begin to show other kinds of signs that something is amiss. And it’s my role and my team’s to discern what it is. Is it something psychological?”
Medical doctors, clinical psychologists, and psychiatrists are part of Fr Thomas’s discernment team. Team members must be Catholic and they must believe in the existence of Satan. He also has a prayer team present with him at every exorcism or deliverance.
He says that in his professional experience, some afflicted people seeking help may not be demonically possessed but may have some kind of demonic oppression in which they are depressed or feel malaise.
What do you think? Is there a spiritual malaise on the rise around the world? Or is this just paranoid superstition? Let us know on Facebook or in the comments below.