In response to an unsettling increase in demand for exorcisms in Italy, the Vatican has announced plans for a new course to better train priests to perform the practice.
The week-long event to be held in April was detailed by Italian priest and exorcist Benigno Palilla in an interview with Vatican Radio.
According to Palilla, requests for exorcisms from the Church have skyrocketed in Italy over the last few years with experts estimating an astounding 500,000 such cases being reported.
Although the priest acknowledged that not all of these events are genuinely connected to an actual possession, he cautioned that the jaw-dropping number of exorcisms indicated that there is some sort of sinister surge happening.
As to what may be behind this spike, Palilla pointed to the popularity of fortune tellers, tarot card readers and other soothsaying mystics in Italy.
He warned that partaking in such 'sorcery' unwittingly "opens the door to the devil and possession."
Additionally, Palilla expressed concern that the whopping number of exorcism cases in the country has led to inexperienced priests being enlisted to perform the ritual.
Calling for a proverbial apprenticeship for exorcists, he lamented that the phenomenon of possession is often verboten during the process of preparing for the priesthood, leaving newcomers overwhelmed when they are called to confront the issue.
By holding this new course on the subject later this year, Palilla hopes to strip away some of the sensationalism surrounding exorcisms and better prepare priests for the various cases they may encounter.