A Rome university will this month run an exorcism course, teaching religious and secular students how to rid people of their demons.
The “Exorcism and prayer of liberation” course will run at the European University of Rome from April 13th to 18th, Rai News reported.
The programme will be run by the Sacerdos Institute, along with a research group from the Bologna church (Gris) and support from the Congregation for the Clergy.
But the course is not restricted to priests and churchgoers; doctors, psychologists and others are all welcome.
The course aims to explore the technical and scientific aspects of exorcism, while also helping participants avoid dangers such as cults and satanism.
Pedro Barrajon, director of the Sacerdos Institute, warned a lack of religious sentiment presented a significant risk.
“Living in a very secularized society in which, more than in the past, there’s the tendency to open the doors to occultism and esoterism,” he was quoted in Rai News as saying, while also warning against fortune tellers.
A distinction will also be made between cases in which people are possessed by demons and those where people are suffering from psychiatric problems.
A theologian, a psychologist and a priest are among those teaching the course, which ends with a roundtable of exorcists.
The practice of exorcism is recognized under canon law, after the Vatican last year gave its backing to the International Association of Exorcists. The group built on an Italian association set up in 1991 by Father Gabriele Amorth, the Vatican’s chief exorcist.
But despite the Holy See’s praise, the practice is not short of controversy. Last month a priest in Spain was arrested after performing exorcisms on a girl suffering from anorexia.
The priest defended his actions, which involved the girl being tied up, after relatives filed a complaint following her suicide attempt.