If you've been suspecting evil is on the rise, you are not alone. In response to an increased demand for exorcisms (nearly triple!) in Italy, the Vatican has introduced a new and improved exorcism training course to better facilitate the nearly 500,000 cases of demonic possession in the country each year. A trained exorcist, Father Benigno Palilla of Sicily, explained to Vatican Radio that the uptick in possessions is due to the evils of tarot cards and fortune tellers, both of which he claims "open the door to the devil and to possession.”
In addition to the secular activities of fortune telling and tarot cards, Palilla also cited genuine psychological disorders as a culprit, while expressing wariness at the inexperience of newer priests. "A self-taught exorcist certainly meets errors," Palilla warned.
In April, the Vatican will host a week-long international course on the act of exorcism at the Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum, a Catholic educational center in Rome. Palilla described the goal of the course as offering "a rich reflection and articulation on a topic that is sometimes unspoken and controversial."
And if Twitter is any indication, Palilla is right in describing the topic as controversial:
Benigno Palilla clearly doesn't realise that tarot cards have their origins in the Catholic Church, having developed to teach seminarians Hebrew. They do not tell the future but help to decide actions. They have nothing to do with devil's and demons. Sigh!— Mark the Stable Genius #FBPE (@maltravers2011) February 25, 2018
They need to raise tuition at John Paul's School of Exorcism & Fine Arts.— Bot Reynolds (@Ricktober13) February 24, 2018
The church shouldn’t be surprised. I mean, after all, you have your David Copperfields of the world, capable of packing them in at Harrahs in Vegas, and then you have The Amazing Morts out of Hoboken playing the senior citizen circuit in Jersey. Same difference— HenryR (@taipan48) February 24, 2018
I honestly don't know, but whatever keeps them happy, I guess 😛 they clearly think it works!— Chris Ⓥ 🇪🇺 #NHSLove (@OneDayAllEqual) February 25, 2018
More than a few people wonder if the Vatican could help the power of Christ compel Americans as well:
Soon, I'm sure, teachers will also be asked to take this training— Donnie Stahlke (@StahlkeDonnie) February 25, 2018
Please come to Wash.DC, post haste!! Perform an exorcism of the Oval Office, West Wing, Senate, and House of Representatives!— Meg Bennett (@MargaretBenett) February 25, 2018
Others pointed out that the Catholic church could focus on other problems:
I wonder how much of the increase in people 'being possessed' is actually the psychological difficulties emerging in adulthood from being sexually abused by a priest as a child ?— Patrina Finch #FBPE (@Siege_Perilous) February 25, 2018
what no course on how to stop Priests sexually molesting children? Oh yes, they're God's chosen elect servants, and we are... easy demon fodder?— Robert Cettl (@CAILLTransmedia) February 25, 2018
Perhaps the Vatican needs to get it's priorities right and exorcise its paedophile priests and bishops first. No one needs a training course to learn that.— G3BOP (@G3BOPMusic) February 25, 2018
It remains to be seen whether the Vatican's efforts to train more priests in the art of exorcism will result in fewer demonic forces in Italy. For many people, a global absence of evil would be a welcome change.