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At a Regina Apostolorum University conference on exorcism this week, veterans of the rite have instructed students to be ready for Muslims asking for spiritual help.
Several speakers testified to their own experiences. Albanian Cdl. Ernest Simoni told attendees that over the course of his decades-long ministry, many Muslims have sought him out for help battling the diabolical. He said he honors these requests, noting that "Jesus came for everyone."
Likewise, Fr. Andre Francisco Fernandes, an Indian priest serving in Dubai, testified that "many Muslims" have approached during his time in the Persian Gulf.
"They say, 'Father, someone has done black magic on me, can you pray over me and remove the devil?'" he explained.
Another lecturer, Mexican Fr. Cesar Truqui, has been performing exorcisms for a decade. Now based in Switzerland, he is a former assistant of Fr. Gabriele Amorth who was often described as Rome's "chief exorcist" before his death in 2016.
"Christ was the first exorcist," Fr. Truqui told students. "The power of casting out demons was one of the signs that Christianity was a true religion."
Sponsored by the Group for Socio-Religious Research and Information (GSRRI), the conference is focusing on the growing scourge of satanic cults, which fuel demonic possession. For the first time, the course including a study of witchcraft in Africa.
According to GSRRI head Prof. Giuseppe Ferrari, participants are exploring "the theme of the kidnapping and murder of children for ritual sacrifice, linked to witchcraft, in order to obtain favors for clients," a "cruel and inhumane practice" prevalent on the continent.
Though witchcraft is a concern for developing world clergy, many bishops and priests in the West fail to recognize the threat it poses.
This week's conference aims to help change this by informing and outfitting a new cadre of priests trained in spiritual warfare.
Demand for the rite is exploding across the West.
In Italy, for example, requests for exorcism have tripled in recent years, with more than 500,000 petitions filed annually.
Shortly before his death, Pope St. John Paul II warned that across the West, apostasy and resurgent paganism were opening doors to a new surge of demonic activity.
Surveying the accelerating spiritual collapse, the pontiff urged every diocese to appoint its own resident exorcist.
In the United States, the Holy Father's call led to the 2012 creation of the Pope Leo XIII Institute, a center dedicated to promoting "the spiritual formation of priests to bring the light of Christ to dispel evil."
The academy is reinvigorating the clergy's capacity for spiritual combat. In 2004, just a dozen exorcists were active in the United States. Since 2015, the Pope Leo XIII Institute has graduated more than a hundred.
But even this is not enough to keep up with demand, U.S. Church officials warn. A sharp rise in demonic activity is being reported throughout the United States owing to skyrocketing rates of drug and pornography addiction, as well as the general loss of faith and abandonment of religious devotion.
Before his death in 2016, Fr. Amorth explained that the influence of the diabolical is more evident at certain points in time, including our own.
"There is no doubt that Satan's power is felt more keenly in periods of history when the sinfulness of the community is more evident," he observed. "For example, when I view the decadence of the Roman Empire, I can see the moral disintegration of that period in history. Now, we are at the same level of decadence."
"The devil is gaining ground," the exorcist warned. "We are living in an age when faith is diminishing. If you abandon God, the devil will take His place."