.- Increased interest in Satanism and the occult has led to a rise in exorcisms in the Australian state of Queensland, the Courier Mail reports.
One priest who asked not to be identified said he presently carried out exorcisms at least once every two weeks.
"Being possessed by a demon is terrifying in one's mental and emotional life," he said to the Courier Mail. "Some of these manifestations are extremely powerful, causing people to be plagued by disturbances. They hear voices and see hideous creatures in their sleep.
"There has been a recruitment of pagan practices, and it's sheer poison.â
The priest said the Gold Coast area of the state, which is in southeastern Queensland, had far more exorcisms than Brisbane, the state capital.
Bishop Brian Finnigan, acting head of the Archdiocese of Brisbane, said it was important for the Church to carry out exorcisms.
"People need to be freed of that burden," he said, according to the Courier Mail.
Father Gabriele Amorth, a chief exorcist in Rome, is considering plans to have in each diocese a group of priests who are trained in exorcism.
"Too many bishops are not taking this seriously and are not delegating their priests in the fight against the devil. You have to hunt high and low for a proper, trained exorcist," Father Amorth said, according to the Courier Mail.
Priests in Queensland can only carry out an exorcism with the permission of the bishop. The priest who spoke to the Courier Mail said he was the only authorized exorcist in the state.
"We are not very plentiful and certainly need more of us to cope with the big occult following that is emerging today," he said.
"It's frightening what can happen when you invite entities into your life which are not meant to be part of God's world."
The priest claimed one woman he had met had been afflicted by demonic manifestations since taking part in a playground witch game as a child.