It sounds like the start of a joke – a Catholic, a Lutheran and a Protestant walk into a room to talk about the devil – but a conference on exorcisms this week in Rome will be no laughing matter.
For the first time, representatives of the main Christian faiths will come together to trade tips on casting out demons and combating the malign influence of Satan.
The meeting will be the culmination of a week-long training course for exorcists which began on Monday at a Vatican-affiliated university, the Ateneo Pontificio Regina Apostolorum.
The dark art of performing exorcisms may seem archaic, even absurd, to non-believers, but the Catholic Church insists that the presence of the devil is growing all the time, due to the increasing secularisation of society, loss of faith in God and the easy access provided by the internet to black magic and the occult.
The meeting will bring together clergy from the Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, Greek Orthodox and Pentecostal churches.”
This is the first time that different denominations have come together to compare their experiences on exorcisms,” said Pedro Barrajon, a Spanish priest and professor of theology who is one of the meeting’s organisers.”
The idea is to… establish best practices, if you will. The Catholic Church is most associated with exorcisms because of films like ‘The Exorcist’ and ‘The Rite’, but we are not the only church that performs them. Expelling the devil goes back to the earliest origins of the Christian church.”
When it comes to battling Beelzebub, there are key differences of approach between the denominations.”
The Catholic rite is very structured, whereas some of the other churches are more creative,” said Fr Barrajon (61), who claims to have witnessed several exorcisms
.Benjamin McEntire, a Protestant priest from Alaska, was one of the 240 clergy from five continents attending the conference.”I’m here to understand the Catholic perspective. We are fighting the same enemy in the name of the Lord,” he said.
Atheists and agnostics may scoff at the idea of people being possessed by demons, but the Catholic organisers of the conference insist the phenomenon is real.
Continue reading the remainder of this important article at: Catholics join up with other denominations to battle Satan – Independent.ie