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Why are exorcisms on the rise?

Over the past few months, I’ve noticed a curiously high number of articles on the topic of exorcisms. Almost all of them point to a similarly noticeable uptick in the number of people requesting the “services” of an exorcist.

Of all the news articles I’ve read on exorcism (and trust me, I’ve read them all; this topic works well as click-bait for me) one of the more interesting headlines was from Newsweek: Catholic Church Attendance in Decline While Exorcisms and Exorcism Training Is on the Rise. In the article, the author lists what the Catholic Church says are the four main signs of the demonic:

  • Speaking languages otherwise unknown to the person
  • Demonstrating strength beyond the normal capacity of the person
  • Elevated perception and having knowledge about things they shouldn’t
  • Resisting anything sacred

In the age of the internet, more and more people are self-diagnosing demonic possession and reaching-out to priests for relief by an exorcism.

The Atlantic recently published a feature about the rising number of exorcisms in their article: American Exorcism Priests are fielding more requests than ever for help with demonic possession, and a centuries-old practice is finding new footing in the modern world.

Also contributing to the media’s interest in this topic is the newly-published book entitled “The Devil is Afraid of Me”. In it, a Rome exorcist tells the tale of how he came face-to-face with the devil himself. Throughout the book, he walks the reader through some of his most memorable (and terrible) encounters with demons.

So the question I have is: Is the rise in exorcisms a reflection of a rise in demonic possessions OR is it a reflection of a rise in the public’s awareness of the practice itself which therefore causes more people to seek out an exorcism?