VATICAN CITY – A call to take up the spiritual weapons of the rosary and prayer rang out at a recent international conference on exorcism in Rome.
The Church needs more training of priests and laypeople in fighting the influence of the devil and bringing spiritual healing to those in need, attendees said.
“We’ve lost the concept of spiritual warfare,” said Msgr Marvin Mottet, official exorcist of the Diocese of Davenport in USA.
The 80-year-old priest said that about once a month he sees a serious case of possession and “tons” of cases of demonic influence in which people are being “bothered or attacked by evil spirits”. Those kinds of cases, he said, are “a daily thing”.
He was one of 60 people who attended a course on exorcism and Satanism at the Legionaries of Christ’s Regina Apostolorum University in Rome from March 28-April 2. The annual event is co-sponsored by the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments and the Congregation for Clergy.
The course, which did not train people to become exorcists, attracted many who were already experienced with exorcism. Most participants were priests, but some were lay doctors, psychologists or parishioners active in prayer ministry.
The course looked at the theological and spiritual elements of exorcism as well as the psychological, sociological and criminal aspects of demonic cults, sects and Satanism.
Msgr Mottet and other exorcists said just as there are different levels of the devil’s influence on a person, so there are different methods to counter it – with exorcism being reserved to priests who have their bishop’s permission and are certain the person is experiencing demonic possession.
The more common problems of temptation and general demonic influence, they said, can be resolved by receiving the sacraments, especially the Sacrament of Reconciliation, or prayers for healing and deliverance, which trained lay Catholics can recite.
A parish priest should discern when a person needs medical, psychological or pastoral care, and when healing or deliverance prayers, rather than exorcism, is needed, they said.
Conventional Franciscan Fr John Farao, a US prison chaplain, added that going to church regularly, taking part in the sacraments and having “a strong spiritual life is the greatest protection against Satan’s interaction in our lives”. - CNS