In 2014, Dr. Valter Cascioli, the spokesman for the International Association of Exorcists, alerted the public to “an extraordinary increase in demonic activity.” But, why now? And, though we seem to have our bases covered in terms of possessed books (thanks, Societas!), what are we going to do about it the rest of the possessions? As Mark Tompkins writes for the Huffington Post, “that is a complex question with many hidden undercurrents, like the beginning of any major conflict. And the only one who can truly answer the Why now? question, the devil, is not commenting. Whatever the reason, the Vatican is mustering its troops as battles mount. The victors will write the history, as they always do – the question is, will they be human or demonic?”
In 2005, the Vatican began what would become an annual training in exorcism. The Catholic News Agency called the new course, “Practical help for the demon-possessed.” In April 2015, the tenth annual six-day training session, “Exorcism and Prayer of Liberation,” attracted 170 students, mainly priests and nuns. There they learned to do battle with demons who have taken possession of human bodies, demons who are daring to operate in the earthly realm, instead of in hell.
The rite of exorcism is straightforward, if not easy. Through a set of prescribed prayers, the exorcist attempts to draw upon enough power of the Holy Spirit to require the demon to reveal its name. Once the name of the “unclean spirit” is had, the exorcist can compel it to leave the afflicted person.
With a modern resurgence of people experiencing what the Committee on Divine Worship calls “assaults by the devil,“ new rules of engagement were needed. In November of 2014, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops approved an updated version of the manual Of Exorcisms and Related Supplications, the first major revision since 1614, and the first version in English. They also reinforced the need for every diocese to establish a protocol to respond to the “demonically afflicted.”
Read more about this new generation of Vatican-approved exorcists here.