The Catholic Church has vowed to "fight the Devil head-on" by training hundreds of priests as exorcists. Father Gabriele Amorth (82), the Vatican's Exorcist-in-Chief, has announced the initiative amid the Church's concerns about growing worldwide interest in Satanism and the occult.
Under new plans each bishop would have a group of priests in his diocese who were specially trained in exorcism and on hand to take action against "extreme Godlessness" Fr Amorth said: "Thanks be to God that we have a Pope who has decided to fight the Devil head-on. Now bishops are to be obliged to have a number of established exorcists for their diocese. Too many bishops are not taking this seriously and are not delegating their priests in the fight against the Devil. You have to hunt high and low for a proper, trained exorcist. Thankfully, Pope Benedict XVI believes in the existence and danger of evil." (Or should this be read “Whoopee! my job’s safe for another few years”)
Fr Amorth added that Pope Benedict XVI wanted to reinstate use of the prayer to St Michael the Archangel, believed to be the prime protector against evil: "The prayer is useful not only for priests but for lay people. For example if a lay person knows someone who is possessed and there is no exorcist available they can intervene by saying this prayer, commanding the demon to leave that person." (A DIY exorcism tool?)The prayer to St Michael the Archangel was sidelined in the 1960s by Pope John XXIII during the Second Vatican Council.
Fr Paolo Scarafoni, another exorcism expert who lectures at the Vatican, said interest in Satanism and the occult had grown as people lost their faith in the Church. He added: "People suffer and think that the Devil can help solve their problems."
The Vatican is concerned that young people are being exposed to Satanism through the media (It’s true! the real name of the BBC is Beelzebeeb) , rock music (I knew Westlife were affiliated with the dark side) and the Internet (quite right – just look at this site ).