CNA/EWTN News is reporting that Dr. Valter Cascioli, a spokesman for the International Association of Exorcists (AIE), said an increasing number of clerics asked to participate in the organization's annual conference this year, which was held in Rome from Oct. 20-25.
“It’s becoming a pastoral emergency,” Cascioli told CNA. “At the moment the number of disturbances of extraordinary demonic activity is on the rise.”
This rise is due to a combination of a decrease in faith coupled with increased curiosity and participation in occult activity such as Ouija boards and seances.
Even so-called "innocent" or passive participation in the occult, can be catastrophic, Cascioli said and urged all believers to reject any participation at all.
“It usually starts out of ignorance, superficiality, stupidity or proselytizing, actively participating or just watching. The consequences are always disastrous.”
As CNA explains, the ramifications of occult activity affects people on "physical, psychological, spiritual, and moral levels, and include anxiety, panic attacks, nightmares, acts of self-harm, and constant thoughts of death, to name a few. In severe cases, it leads to demonic possession.
“Whether we realize it or not, whether we are aware of it or not, whether we do it for fun, for amusement or for any other reason, it does not change anything: the devastating impact of spiritism is the same.”
This includes people who are being misguided into believing they are in touch with spirits of deceased loved ones, he said, when in fact they have "contacted and invited demons into their lives," Cascioli continued.
“This spiritual entity deceives and betrays us about their true identity, telling us things that are only partially based on truth; thus seduce us, trick us and try to enter into us,” he explained.
The ineptitude of many to deal with this looming crisis is evident in a recent column that appeared on Crux, the Boston Globe's Catholic news outlet. A mother wrote about her teen daughter who was becoming obsessed with the occult - watching Long Island Medium, reading books on witchcraft, and attending seances at the home of a friend who uses a Ouija board.
Lisa Miller, the advice columnist, dismissed it as a phase, comparing it to an obsession with the Chronicles of Narnia or My Little Pony.
“If you don’t make it a big deal, she’ll have to face reality herself: Sooner or later, she has to grow up,” Miller advised.
Fr. Stephen Doktorczyk, a priest of the Diocese of Orange, disagreed and said the mother should pray the rosary for her daughter and discourage her from any further involvement.
“The young girl's behavior is potentially dangerous and could lead to serious problems in the not too distant future,” he said. “The Evil One is smart. He knows how to entice people with seemingly harmless things. As we read in 1 Peter 5:8-9: ‘Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, solid in your faith.' . . . I have dealt with too many situations involving people who, perhaps innocently, started dabbling in the occult. They now wish they could go back and undo their prior decision."
This is why the Catechism of the Catholic Church warns us away from any practice that involves recourse to Satan, such as sorcery (magic), attempts to conjure the dead, and the use of divination to reveal future events.
“Consulting horoscopes, astrology, palm reading, interpretation of omens and lots, the phenomena of clairvoyance, and recourse to mediums all conceal a desire for power over time, history, and, in the last analysis, other human beings, as well as a wish to conciliate hidden powers. They contradict the honor, respect, and loving fear that we owe to God alone" (2116).
According to Cascioli, the IAE has some 250 exorcists serving in dioceses around the world and all are reporting an increase in occult activity.
“It is not a socio-cultural phenomenon, it is present all over the world, and that tells us a lot,” Cascioli said.
“So, it is truly becoming a pastoral emergency and this is why we have the necessity to combat this situation.”
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