.- The idea of Satanic possession has long been a source for movie plots and ghost stories around the campfire, but a new course at the Pontifical Regina Apostolorum University in Rome is training priests to understand and fight this very real source of evil.
With Italian police saying that Satanism is on the rise, and an Italian court preparing to convict eight members of a Satanic sect for their alleged role in three ritual killings, 100 priests gathered on Thursday to commence what is being called the first class of its kind.
Reportedly, many bishops and diocese do not take the idea of Satanic possession seriously enough. People, even theologians, commented one class member, began to think of the devil as just a myth.
The new course will train priests to understand and confront issues of possession and the occult. The wide-ranging lecturers will include exorcists, psychologists, theologians and criminologists.
Carlo Climati, an author who will teach about the Satan’s lure of young people, told IOL that, “It's a more spontaneous and hidden phenomenon, a problem of loneliness and isolation, a problem of emptiness, that is fulfilled by the values of Satanism."
The course, run by the Legionaries of Christ drew priests from Italy and as far away as Nebraska.
The Vatican came out with new exorcism guidelines in 1999 and stated that among signs like speaking in unknown tongues and demonstrating extreme strength, that priests should keep psychological concerns in mind.
Pope John Paul II used the new rite in many ways to reaffirm the truth that Satan is indeed at work in the world. He has denounced the devil in numerous homilies as “a cosmic liar and murderer.”
“The call for help comes from those who have entered into contact with the world of the occult and magic and desire to get out of it, or from those who in some way discover they are under the influence of the devil,” explained Giuseppe Ferrari, National Secretary of Socio-Religious Research and Information Group, which is helping to organize the course.
Father Alfonso Kabore of Burkina Faso, said, “I think it is very important for us priests to be prepared in this matter and above all to know how to act and what instruments to use in concrete cases that we confront daily.”
For his part, Father Anton Lasser of Austria stated, “Many people have requested of me prayers of liberation or healing sacraments and after having administered them they come back to tell me the prayers worked. I intend on continuing this course to understand fully the problem.”