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Catholic Church to train priests on how to perform exorcisms

November 14, 2010 - New York

Catholic Church is holding a two-day conference in Baltimore to train priests on how to perform exorcisms.

More than 50 bishops and 66 priests signed up to attend.

According to Bishop Thomas Paprocki, only five or six American priests know how to perform exorcisms, and they are finding themselves overwhelmed with requests.

"Actually, each diocese should have its own resource (person). It shouldn't be that this burden should be placed on a priest when his responsibility is for his own diocese," the New York Daily News quoted him as telling the Catholic News Service.

Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, an archbishop from Texas said, "For the longest time, we in the United States may not have been as much attuned to some of the spiritual aspects of evil because we have become so much attached to what would be either physical or psychological explanation for certain phenomena."

"We may have forgotten that there is a spiritual dimension to people," he said.

While exorcisms were made famous by the Hollywood thriller "The Exorcist," the act of casting out evil spirits is rooted in the Bible.

"The sacrament of penance is much more powerful than an exorcism," Paprocki said.

"The work of the devil is much more regular and our response to that should be rather regular. It's not that you need a special exorcism to deal with the devil," he said.

Father Jeffrey Grob of Illinois, one of the priests leading training sessions said that demonic activity in the soul "didn't get there overnight."

"There's not an instantaneous change in the person," he said.

Scratching, biting or cutting of skin, speaking in a language you don't understand and "violent reaction to holy water" are just some of the symptoms a priest will look for to determine whether an exorcism is needed.

"The reality is that a full exorcism is a rare thing but we still have to have people who know how to do that because the reality is that it's not unheard of," Paprocki added.


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