An alarming increase in demonic activity is being reported by those who work in the exorcism ministry and demand for the services of exorcists is outstripping supply, according to the exorcist for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis in the US.
Pornography and illegal drugs are partly to blame for the increase, according to the priest, as people play the 'game' of the devil.
Although the identities of most exorcists are hidden, Fr Vincent Lampert gave an interview with the National Catholic Register in which he said that he sees an increasing number of people involved in Satanic rituals and opening themselves up to evil.
When Fr Lampert was appointed as an exorcist by his bishop in 2005, there were only 12 others. Now, he said there are around 50 other exorcists that he knows of personally in the US.
'The problem isn't that the devil has upped his game, but more people are willing to play it,' Lampert said. He pointed to rampant pornography, illegal drugs use and the occult, saying: 'Where there is demonic activity, there is always an entry point.'
Last October, Lampert met in Rome with the International Association of Exorcists, a support group of 400 Catholic leaders and priests that gathers biannually. He says that members of the group agree that there is a need for more exorcists.
Lampert makes a distinction between 'possessions' and more minor – but common – related problems. 'I've only seen three possessions in the last three years,' he said. '[But] there is also infestation, vexation and obsession.'
'Demonic obsession' involves mental attacks, such as persistent thoughts of evil racing through the mind.
'In possessions, I have seen eyes rolled back in the head, throwing out obscenities, bodily contortions, foul odours, temperatures drop in the room, and I've witnessed someone levitating,' the priest said.
According to the Catholic News Agency, the Catholic bishops are aware of increased reports of demonic activity because a priest can only perform an exorcism with episcopal permission.
Bishop Thomas Paprocki of the Diocese of Springfield, Illinois said: 'Canon law requires a bishop to give permission before a priest can do a major exorcism, but bishops don't receive any formal training in exorcism.'
In 2010, Bishop Paprocki organised a two-day conference on all aspects of exorcism, to help support bishops while he was the chairman of the Committee on Canonical Affairs and Church Governance for the US Conference of Catholic Bishops.
The Milwaukee-based Pope Leo XII Institute was founded in 2012 to support 'the spiritual formation of priests to bring the light of Christ to dispel evil'.
It was a response to the recommendation by Pope St John Paul II that every diocese appoint an exorcist.
It began as a series of informal meetings at the request of US bishops wanting education and training.
A spokesperson for the US bishops' conference said that, although every diocese should ideally have its own exorcist, no statistics are kept as to the actual numbers.