Exorcists gather in Rome to share their experiences of fighting evil and demonic possession

A nun attends a course for aspiring exorcists in Rome, Italy April 16, 2018.REUTERS/Tony Gentile

Exorcists are in Rome this week for a major summit on how to treat demonic possession and respond effectively to the growth of Satanism and secularism.

The 14th "Course on Exorcism and Prayer of Liberation" opened on Monday and brings together over 240 priests from 40 countries. 

It is taking place at the Pontifical University of Regina Apostolorum in Rome but is not limited to Catholics, with participants also coming from the Lutheran, Pentecostal and Greek Orthodox traditions, reports Crux Now.

The priests are spending this week studying their different approaches to exorcism and examining how the church can push back effectively against the forces of darkness.  

"Some believe that this return to exorcism and prayer of liberation is derived from a distancing from God," theologian Father Pedro Barrajon Muñoz told reporters on Monday.

He said the theme of exorcism "always garners attention", partly because the nature of evil is not clearly understood by many. 

"At the bottom there is the mysteriousness of evil as not just an event, but also a person," he said.

"That evil may not just be caused by the sins of men but by a being, who is both perverse and perverting as Pope Paul VI said, and can provoke great evil that does not depend on our free will."

Italian Professor Giuseppe Ferrari, founder and secretary of the "Social and Religious Research and Information Group", told delegates at the closed-door meeting that the occult was particularly attractive to young people.

"Many young people display a certain attraction and interest toward themes tied to esotericism, magic, the occult, Satanism, witchcraft, vampirism and contact with a presumed supernatural world," he said. 

"Some end up accepting as spiritual leaders these characters who, while proposing a flawed liberty and false freedom, only aim at taking hold of their existence," he added.

The profile of Satanism has grown rapidly across the US in recent years where supporters have been actively campaigning against Ten Commandment monuments at statehouses.