Pope says official exorcists show Church’s love for the suffering

Father Jose Antonio Fortea gives a talk about exorcism and pastoral care during a 2012 workshop at Assumption Catholic Church in Jacksonville, Fla. Father Fortea, a priest of the Diocese of Alcala de Henares, Spain, is an exorcist. Pope Francis said the church's official exorcists show the church's love for the suffering. (CNS photo/Don Burk)
Father Jose Antonio Fortea gives a talk about exorcism and pastoral care during a 2012 workshop at Assumption Catholic Church in Jacksonville, Fla. Father Fortea, a priest of the Diocese of Alcala de Henares, Spain, is an exorcist. Pope Francis said the Church’s official exorcists show the Church’s love for the suffering. (CNS photo/Don Burk)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Exorcists, assigned to that ministry by their bishops, demonstrate the love and care of the Church for “those who suffer because of the work of the devil,” Pope Francis said in a message to the International Association of Exorcists.

The organization, which was recognized by the Congregation for Clergy in June, brought some 300 exorcists to Rome for a convention focused particularly on the impact of the occult and Satanism on modern men and women.

In an Oct. 27 interview with Vatican Radio, Dr. Valter Cascioli, a psychiatrist and spokesman for the group, said the number of people who turn to the occult or are fascinated by Satanic cults and rituals “is constantly increasing and this worries us” because it appears to coincide with “an extraordinary increase in demonic activity.”

Cascioli said too many people today undervalue temptation, “ordinary demonic activity,” which leaves them unprepared to fight off greater attacks by the devil.

In societies marked by “rushing, superficiality, exaggerated individualism and secularization,” he said, “the battle against evil and the devil increasingly is becoming an emergency.”

Where faith is weak, he said, “the enemy of God” finds easy prey.

Father Gabriele Nanni, exorcist for the Diocese of Teramo, Italy, gives a presentation during a 2011 course on exorcism and Satanism at the Legionaries of Christ's Pontifical Regina Apostolorum University in Rome. Pope Francis said the church's official exorcists show the church's love for the suffering. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
Father Gabriele Nanni, exorcist for the Diocese of Teramo, Italy, gives a presentation during a 2011 course on exorcism and Satanism at the Legionaries of Christ’s Pontifical Regina Apostolorum University in Rome. Pope Francis said the church’s official exorcists show the church’s love for the suffering. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

The exorcists’ association, Cascioli said, sees the impact of the devil’s wiles on families as well as individuals. “We know that the one who divides — the devil — not only separates us from God, but separates persons and families.”

— By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service.