An Italian priest recently noted that the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing lockdowns have resulted in a surge of requests for exorcisms as more people feel that their lives are "in the hands of a malign force."
During an international conference of exorcist priests in Rome, Fr. Gian Matter Roggio noted that there is a growing concern about the increased requests for exorcisms, The Christian Post reported.
"We have seen an increase in the request for exorcisms because the pandemic has made people more vulnerable to the idea that Satan or some evil entity has taken over their lives," Roggio, an exorcist himself, said.
"People have fallen into poverty, they found themselves suffering from anxiety and depression. They feel that their lives are no longer in their own hands but in the hands of a malign force. It's a big crisis," he continued.
According to The Telegraph, the priest went on to explain the effects of demonic possession.
"People speak languages they have never spoken before, even ancient tongues like Aramaic, Latin, Greek and Hebrew," Roggio said. "They're able to levitate off the ground or they vomit objects like nails and pieces of glass. There are people whose voices change completely – a woman might start speaking like a man. Some develop superhuman strength, and it takes four or five people to restrain them."
Prof Giuseppe Ferrari, one of the conference organizers, added that the media's promotion of witchcraft and the occult is also to blame for the rise in the exorcism requests.
"Young people are being attracted to exploring witchcraft, vampirism, black magic and the occult by the mass media," Ferrari said. "It's a phenomenon that is growing, and it is really worrying."
The publication Catholic Online concurred with Roggio's comments that people are more vulnerable to Satan and his demonic forces during times of crisis.
"Those facing crisis, people who are desperate, are more likely to engage in behaviors that facilitate demonic possession," the publication explained. "Those behaviors include sinful activities, including engaging in vices and dabbling in the occult. While many people turn to their faith in times of need, some turn away, blaming God for their difficulties. When some people realize their mistake, it can already be too late. The family and Church must intervene to investigate and, when appropriate, to perform an exorcism."
Catholic Online also clarified that sometimes mental illness can be confused with demon possession.
"This is why many exorcists work with doctors and mental health professionals to provide people with the help they need. However, demonic possession is real, and in such cases, an exorcism is warranted."
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/D. Keine
Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer. He is also the co-hosts of the For Your Soul podcast, which seeks to equip the church with biblical truth and sound doctrine. Visit his blog Blessed Are The Forgiven.