Msgr. John Esseff, president of the institute's board of directors, was one of the founding members. He has been a priest for 63 years and an exorcist in the Diocese of Scranton, Pennsylvania, for more than 40 years. He often gives talks at the institute on exorcism and deliverance.
"As the acceptance of sin has increased, so, too, has demonic activity," Msgr. Esseff said. "The bishops saw the need for more trained exorcists because so many cases were being referred from all over the country to the dioceses that had exorcists."
"A person should be cared for in his own diocese," he added.
The Pope Leo XIII Institute graduated the first class of 55 exorcists, priests and deacons from its two-year program in 2015. The training involves 10-day sessions given at Mundelein Seminary in the Archdiocese of Chicago, twice a year for two years. A second class of 52 will graduate this fall.
"I'm hopeful bishop are becoming more aware of their role as the 'chief exorcist' for the diocese," Msgr. Esseff said. "There is also still some resistance of the reality of Satan," in the Church, among priests and bishops, he added, "as if there is just evil and not the devil."
"The only one that can overcome Satan is Jesus," Msgr. Esseff said. "He overcomes the kingdom of evil with light. And every priest represents Jesus. The devil does not see the priest – he sees Jesus."
Bishop Paprocki, who has also given lectures at the Pope Leo XIII Institute, said he likes to emphasize the difference between major and minor exorcisms. "A minor exorcism occurs very frequently in the Church, every time we do a baptism," he told the Register. "It is a matter of rejecting Satan and all his works."
A priest does not need a bishop's permission to do minor exorcisms in situations where there is an evil influence, Bishop Paprocki explained. "It's just a matter of praying to God to overcome evil influences."
"The reason a major exorcism needs a bishop's permission is that the priest talks directly to the devil and commands him in the name of Jesus Christ to leave that person," he said. "For the priest to be able to do that, he needs the authority of the Church behind him."
Father Lampert said that a priest, and even laypeople, can pray minor exorcism prayers because they address God. "The lay faithful should not give commands to demons," he said. "Demons recognize the authority of bishops and the Church. If you claim authority on your own, it can get you into trouble," he warned the laity. He referred to the example in Acts 19, when some Jewish exorcists tried to expel an evil spirit. The devil said: "Jesus I recognize, Paul I know, but who are you?" Then he attacked them.
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"It's not the exorcists that have the power," Father Lampert said, "but the power and authority of the Church that comes from Jesus Christ. Catholics understand that individuals don't have that power."
Everyone interviewed for this article stated that the ordinary work of the devil is temptation, so it is sin that gives him a foothold in people's lives. They all encouraged people to have strong prayer lives and to go to confession and receive the Eucharist frequently.
Father Lampert cautions people not to give too much attention to the devil, as well. "The focus should be on God and Jesus Christ," he said. "When I remind myself that God is in charge, it puts everything in perspective, and the worry and fear dissipates."
He added, "If people would build up their faith lives, the devil will be defeated."
Originally published at the National Catholic Register.