Image of Father Vincenzo Taraborelli from BBC News
If you are looking for a slightly spooky career change this Halloween season, I’m here to tell you that the Catholic Church is looking for a few good… exorcists.
I didn’t know this, but the idea of demonic possession is an accepted part of Catholic doctrine. While this is an unusual belief for a religion to endorse in this day and age, Catholic exorcist and priest Father Vincenzo Taraborelli says “…someone who believes knows that the devil exists, you can read it in the gospel. Then you only need to see how the world is nowadays. It has never been this bad. These violence acts are not human.”
Father Taraborelli has been working as an exorcist in Rome for 27 years. The 79 year old priest didn’t set out to become an exorcist. He was asked to help another priest with an exorcism and since then has become certified to perform the Catholic exorcism rite on his own.
While the accepted procedure is to tell people who seek his assistance to first look to a psychiatrist or psychologist to rule out mental illness, he also describes dramatic scenes of expelling demons from people who have come to him for help. He told of a woman who was allegedly being tormented by a man he calls a Satanist. He says, “So when I told the devil: 'In the name of Jesus, I order you to go away', she started to vomit little metal pins, five at a time. Aside from pins she would also vomit hair braids, little stones, pieces of wood. It sounds like something from another world right? Instead, it's something from this world.”
Stories like that are apparently enough to scare off younger priests from pursuing exorcism as part of their vocations. Father Taraborelli acknowledges its a difficult life. He spends three days a week in his windowless room reading exorcism rights to people asking for his help.
Moreover, exorcism isn’t exactly without controversy. While the Catholic Church only allows consecrated priests to perform exorcisms, there are many stories about so-called exorcisms that amount to little more than spiritual and physical abuse. Moreover, the scientific community basically dismisses the entire idea of demonic possession on the grounds that there’s no scientific evidence for the existence of demons.
However, if you do want to become a Catholic exorcist, Pope Francis is looking for younger priests to take on the task. That’s right. He has an old priest. Could you be the young one?