The Vatican has given formal recognition to the International Association of Exorcists, which means that the exorcists can now perform their rituals legally.
The International Association of Exorcists consists of 250 priests from 30 countries. These priests perform exorcism on Catholic believers who are possessed by demons. The procedure is conducted to liberate the demons from the human bodies. According to L'Osservatore Romano, the official newspaper of the Vatican, the organisation has been approved by the Congregation for Clergy. The group is recognised under canon law, Associate Press reported. The Reverend Francesco Bamonte was happy about the recognition. "Exorcism is a form of charity that benefits those who suffer," he said.
Pope Francis has been frequently heard talking about the devil. Only in 2013, he strategically placed his hands on the head of a man who was apparently possessed by four demons at that time. According to exorcists, the pontiff was engaged in a prayer which would liberate Satan.
Conservative Catholic organisations are often critical of the vast popularity of Satanist culture in modern times. They believe that prime-time television shows feature Satanists while neo-pagan religions manage to have a vast number of followers. Even tarot card reading on newspapers is a part of the Satanist culture, they believe. The popularity of such culture is the main reason why exorcism is on the rise, according to Catholic experts. Father James LeBar, who is an exorcist at the Archdiocese of New York, earlier said that there had been a "large explosion" of exorcism which started in the 90s. Father John Hampsch who is a psychologist apparently deals with 10 to 15 cases of exorcism in a week.
The first official guidelines related to exorcism came from the Vatican in 1614. The guidelines were further revised in 1999. At the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, it was deduced that demonic possession could cause symptoms like "excessive masturbation."
However, science is yet to recognise exorcism - derived from the Greek word "exousia" meaning oath.
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