Vatican City, Oct 31, 2020 / 12:00 pm
A group of European academics have begun to carry out limited new research on the ministry of Catholic exorcists, with the hope to expand the scope of their study in the future.
One member of the research team, Giovanni Ferrari, estimated the group is the “first in the world” to carry out this level of research on the ministry of exorcism in the Catholic Church, which is often not well documented by academic researchers. He added that the scholars want to continue what they have started and expand to more countries.
Because of the sensitivity of the subject matter and the necessary privacy of people involved, national and international statistics on the ministry of exorcism, such as how many Catholic exorcists there are in the world, largely do not exist.
The group of researchers, who belong to the University of Bologna and GRIS (a research group on socio-religious information) carried out their project from 2019 to 2020, with support from the Sacerdos Institute, which is connected to the Pontifical Institute Regina Apostolorum.
The objective of the study was to identify the presence of exorcists in Catholic dioceses, focusing on the countries of Ireland, England, Switzerland, Italy, and Spain. Data was collected via questionnaire.
The results of the research were presented during an Oct. 31 webinar by the Sacerdos Institute.
Though some dioceses did not respond or declined to share information about the number of exorcists, some limited information was able to be collected, and showed that in the countries surveyed, a majority of dioceses had the presence of at least one exorcist.
The project did hit some snags, researcher Giuseppe Frau said, indicating the delicate nature of the subject matter and the fact that the group was “pioneering” in a brand new area of research. It was noted that response rates to the surveys were fairly high, but in some cases, the diocese either did not answer or was ill informed about the exorcism ministry overall.