(ANSA) - Rome, December 19 - Italy's leading exorcist said on Thursday there were up to 330 priests practising the Vatican-approved procedures for casting out the Devil all over the country.
In the Catholic Church exorcists must be priests and they have to be given a sort of 'licence' to perform the special rites by their local bishop.
While exorcists were busy trying to expel Satan from possessed Italians, Father [Gabriele] Amorth implied that many in the country were unwittingly inviting the Devil into their lives through involvement in the occult.
Exorcists say that contact with the occult is one of the ways the Devil can gain access to a person's mind, sometimes exploiting the situation to 'possess' that individual. "In all these years the Church hasn't noticed that churches are getting emptier while at least 13 million Italians are turning to seers, sorcerers, witches and specialists in the occult," he said.
Speaking at the presentation of a new book on his experiences, he also touched on some of the lesser known aspects of exorcism, such as the need for a psychiatrist to help formerly possessed people recover.
Monsignor Andrea Gemma, a bishop and exorcist who also attended the presentation, said it was crucial that the psychiatrist brought in was a Catholic.
"If you don't believe in the existence of the Demon it's easy to fall into the solution of the psychiatrist who labels a patient as suffering from paranoia and ends up pumping him full of sedatives," he said.
"Pump him full of sedatives..." That makes me grin and it's so true of our culture. If he's sick, just give him some penicilin or some ritalin or some prozac.
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