Milan, the biggest Catholic diocese in Italy, has established a special hotline for Catholics who desperately need the services of an exorcist but can't afford to wait too long. I'm not sure, but I think they are offering a guarantee that if a priest doesn't get there in at least 20 minutes, the get a coupon so their next exorcism will be free.
Exorcism in Rome
I'm not sure which is more depressing: that the Catholic Church is still so stuck in the Dark Ages that they are eager to provide such a service or that the people themselves are still so stuck in the Dark Ages that there are more and more who want the service.
Then again, I suppose that the two aren't entirely disconnected - the Catholic Church is surely part of why the people still believe in nonsense like demon possession.
"We get many requests for names, addresses and phone numbers; that's why we've set up a switchboard in the curia from Monday to Friday from 2.30pm to 5pm," he told the chiesadimilano website.
"People in need can call and will be able to find a priest in the same area who doesn't have to travel too far." And to that end, the number of demon-busting priests on call has increased from six to 12.
The Monsignor said he knew of one exorcist who had been seeing up to 120 people a day. "But with so little time per client he was only able to offer a quick blessing. That's not enough," he said. "There should be two to four appointments a day, no more, otherwise it's too much."
Right, muttering incantations for just a few minutes is clearly insufficient. Priests should have enough time to mutter incantations for at least an hour or two. That's clearly going to be much more effective.
It's not clear why the number of suspected possessions has risen so sharply. But Monsignor Mascheroni said that part of the increase might be explained by the rising numbers of parents having difficulty controlling disobedient teenagers.
"Usually the parents call [because they are] concerned about a child who won't go to school or who's taking drugs or rebelling. In reality it's not a demon, but when they're 18 years old young people don't want to be told what to do."
The Bible's prescription for disobedient teenagers is to simply stone them. You don't need a special exorcist for that, do you?
He warned that many worried and vulnerable people were at risk from charlatans. "Magicians demand money; we ... give our time, give benediction ... all for free. It couldn't be any other way."
Yeah, you don't want charlatans to be called in to serve people's exorcism needs. You only want completely trustworthy, honest, competent, professionals to do this. You know, like Catholic priests.