By Philip Pullella
ROME (Reuters) – About 200 aspiring exorcists gathered on Monday for a week-long course in casting out demons – including by cellphone if necessary – amid increased demand for the service among Roman Catholics.
Participants, many of them priests, will attend lectures and talks on a range of topics including witchcraft in Africa, how to tell the difference between demonic possession and mental illness, and a step-by-step guide to casting out demons.
Cardinal Ernest Simoni of Albania drew strong interest in the first session by citing the use of cellphones in exorcisms.
“They call me and we speak and that’s how I do it,” the 89-year-old Simoni told Reuters after his address, explaining how he would read the prayers of exorcism in Latin over the phone just as he would if performing the lengthy rite in person.