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Published:May 27th, 2008 14:02 EST
Europe Asks for Exorcists

Europe Asks for Exorcists

By Krzys Wasilewski

BERLIN, Germany. Exorcists are the most sought after experts in Germany as more and more people believe they have been possessed by evil spirits.

National Catholic authorities admit that the number of Germans asking for exorcism is rising. The problem was underlined by a German radio show that recently interviewed several priests and, live, reported their practices of expelling evil spirits from possessed people. One exorcist, Father Joerg Mueller, told a journalist that only last year he had helped over 350 Germans. “They hear the voices of demons; they see ghosts or shadows or destroy crucifixions at night, without being able to remember anything the next day,” the British Daily Telegraph quotes him.

It doesn't mean, however, that Germans are especially prone to demons. In most cases, advise priests, instead of an exorcist people should contact a psychiatrist as their problems derive from mental breakdowns rather than possession by the devil. Father Mueller said that, popularized by Hollywood movies, exorcism has become perceived as an easy and quick way to heal the mind and soul. “Therapy hasn't worked for them; they want exorcism — a prayer that can free them,” he said, adding that only one in ten who seek his help qualifies for exorcism.

Rejected by their local priests, Germans go to neighboring Poland where the Catholic Church is incomparably stronger than in their homeland. In Szczecin, a 300,000-strong Polish city located just two hours from the German capital, an exorcism center is under construction that, when finished, will house 50 exorcists and psychiatrists ready to help anyone who asks for it. The Daily Telegraph reports that Father Andrzej Trojanowski, who already performs around 20 exorcisms a week, will be at the helm of this spiritual clinic. He says that it's not only Germany or Poland but the entire European Union that records the growing demand for spiritual assistance.

Catholic authorities admit that the recent interest in exorcisms has caught them by surprise. Only in the 1970s a German priest was put on trial when the woman he had been trying to free of the devil died after months of exorcism. The case, which inspired the creators of The Exorcism of Emily Rose, ended in the court declaring that the woman had fallen prey to “Doctrinaire Induction.” Both the exorcist and the woman's parents were sentenced to six-month suspension. Since then, very few priests have willingly performed the controversial duty, especially that even the Vatican preferred to send the possessed to lay psychiatrists rather than to order exorcisms. In the 21st century this trend has reversed.

It is hard to explain the popularity of exorcisms. According to all surveys recently conducted in the European Union, Christianity is on the decline with Catholic and Protestant churches emptying at dramatic speed even in as conservative countries as Poland and Spain. But Sunday service attendance is one thing; the need of exorcism is another. The Church authorities link this phenomenon with the increasing presence of various Satanic movements that every year recruit new followers. Only in traditionally Catholic Italy there were 650 Satanic cults with over 5,000 members in 2005. Brainwashed and often mentally wounded, cults' former members hope that exorcists will help them return to normality.

Most of those who ask for exorcism hardly realize what it really means. The Encyclopedia Britannica defines it as “an adjuration addressed to evil spirits to force them to abandon an object, phase, or person; technically, a ceremony used in both Jewish and Christian traditions to expel demons from persons who have come under their power.” But people are not interested in technicalities. As one priest said, “If something goes wrong, people always seek refuge in religion.”

 

If you have any comments or suggestions, please write to: krzys.wasilewski@yahoo.com