This article originally appeared on VICE US.
Italy is allegedly overrun with reports of demonic possession, and overworked priests can't splash the holy water fast enough.
According to USA Today, cases of demonic possession in Italy have tripled over the past few years—almost half a million calls per year—and the Vatican is in dire need of more priests to handle the demand. Last week, the church revealed a daring new plan to combat the demon uptick and send them back to hell once and for all, with a weeklong intensive course to train priests in the art of exorcism.
Italian exorcist and priest Beningo Palilla announced the plan to Vatican Radio, saying that the exorcist boot camp will "offer a rich reflection and articulation on a topic that is sometimes unspoken and controversial"—namely, the idea that evil spirits can take over someone's body from time to time.
Palilla told Vatican Radio that he blames the recent uptick in reported possessions on the use of Tarot cards and fortune tellers, USA Today reports, which supposedly "open the door to the devil and to possession." It's unclear why it would cause such a steep rise in possessions now in particular since Tarot isn't exactly a new trend, but whatever.
While Palilla did admit that, yes, not all cases of demon possession are real and some might be the result of psychological or health problems, he stressed the need for more trained priests who can accurately diagnose an alleged possession and act accordingly—and warned that a "self-taught" exorcist could easily make "errors."
“We priests, very often, do not know how to deal with the concrete cases presented to us," he told Vatican Radio in Italian. "In the preparation of priesthood, we do not talk about these things."
The conference will take place this April at the Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum in Rome and will include courses on satanism and lessons in how to liberate people who are possessed, hopefully training enough priests to be able to handle the new onslaught of supposed demons coming after our souls. Until then, be careful with the Ouija board.
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