INDIANAPOLIS (ChurchMilitant.com) - A leading exorcist in the United States is identifying the increased need for exorcists, saying it's because people's sins are opening spiritual doors for the diabolical.
In an interview published March 11, Fr. Vincent Lampert, the official exorcist for the archdiocese of Indianapolis, relates that the growing need for exorcists is owing to people inviting the devil into their souls, knowingly or not.
"The problem isn't that the devil has upped his game, but more people are willing to play it," warned Fr. Lampert.
Pornography, illegal drug use and dabbling in the occult are specific portals that open a person up to the demonic, he noted. "Where there is demonic activity, there is always an entry point."
Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, Illinois, also attests that bishops know of the increased spiritual need for exorcists in their own dioceses but are lacking in preparation. "Canon law requires a bishop to give permission before a priest can do a major exorcism, but bishops don't receive any formal training in exorcism," he lamented.
To assist bishops, Bp. Paprocki, then-chairman of the Committee on Canonical Affairs and Church Governance for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, organized in 2010 a two-day conference on exorcism. He has also spoken at the Leo XIII Institute, "established for the total education and training of priests in the holy ministry of exorcism and deliverance."
The institute provides a 40-day-training course that's broken into a two-year course, with 10-day sessions twice a year. The Leo XIII Institute graduated its first class of 55 exorcists in 2015 and is set to graduate its second class of 52 exorcists this fall. When Fr. Lampert was appointed an exorcist in 2005, he said there were only 12 others in the United States to perform exorcisms. Now, he personally knows of more than 50.
Bishop Paprocki stressed the difference between major exorcisms that require a bishop's permission and a minor exorcism that doesn't require permission and which "occurs very frequently in the Church." The bishop explained that minor exorcisms are prayers that even the laity can say: "It's just a matter of praying to God to overcome evil influences."
Major exorcisms are entirely different, says the bishop. "The reason a major exorcism needs a bishop's permission is that the priest talks directly to the devil and commands him in the name of Jesus Christ to leave that person. For the priest to be able to do that, he needs the authority of the Church behind him," he explained.
Father Lampert concurred with the bishop's distinctions, saying laypeople can pray minor exorcisms — sometimes called prayers of deliverance — because they address God and not the devil directly. "The lay faithful should not give commands to demons," said Fr. Lampert. "Demons recognize the authority of bishops and the Church. If you claim authority on your own, it can get you into trouble."
To prove his point, he made reference to the Acts of the Apostles 19:13–16, which reads:
Now some also of the Jewish exorcists who went about, attempted to invoke over them that had evil spirits, the name of the Lord Jesus, saying: I conjure you by Jesus, whom Paul preaches. ... But the wicked spirit, answering, said to them: Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you? And the man in whom the wicked spirit was, leaping upon them, and mastering them both, prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.
"It's not the exorcists that have the power," said the priest, "but the power and authority of the Church that comes from Jesus Christ. Catholics understand that individuals don't have that power."
The president of the Leo XIII Institute, Msgr. John Esseff, explained how priests share in the priesthood of Christ to dispel demons. "The only one that can overcome Satan is Jesus. ... And every priest represents Jesus. The devil does not see the priest — he sees Jesus."
Father Lampert said the real solution for ending diabolic influence is for people to stop giving the devil power over themselves by committing sin. "If people would build up their faith lives, the devil will be defeated."