The Vatican is offering a course on exorcism this month to teach laypeople "how to recognize and fight demonic possession," Breitbart reported Friday.
The 10th annual edition of the course will take place from April 13 to April 18 at the European University of Rome. It is aimed at providing priests, doctors, psychologists, and teachers with lessons about how to handle cases of "demonic possession" and distinguish them from medical and psychological problems.
One of the organizers of the course, the Rev. Pedro Barrajon, warned that in today's secularized society "there is an increased tendency to open the doors to occultism and esotericism."
The course aims to combat those tendencies by addressing the topic of exorcism both theologically and scientifically. It also is aimed at driving home the importance of exercising prudence in evaluating each case, church officials told Breitbart.
The goal is to avoid the kind of errors that can result in harm to children and other vulnerable groups.
Britain's Mirror newspaper
reported this week on a case involving a priest who performed a mass exorcism on a group of schoolchildren at a religious camp in northwestern Poland.
About 1,000 young people from schools near the town of Gryfice attended a three-day camp that they thought would bring about strategic renewal through prayer.
Instead, the Rev. Tomas Wieczorek, 37, worked to exorcise the children's demons and replace them with God.
The result was chaos. Some of the children writhed on the floor and screamed.
"It was really scary, almost like a mental asylum," one student said.
"This is the sort of thing that should be avoided at all costs," Barrajon said regarding the Gryfice case.
Although the topic of the course may lend itself to sensationalism, Barrajon said it would approach the subject from "a sound theology" aimed at deepening "the spiritual basis for the action of angels and demons."
Pope Francis has discussed the devil on numerous occasions, saying that he is no myth and that it is essential to fight him. Francis also has attributed divisions among Christians to the work of Satan.
"The devil exists, and we have to fight him," he said recently. "These are St. Paul's words, not mine!"
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