With exorcism booming in Poland, Roman Catholic priests have joined forces with a publisher to launch what they claim is the world’s first monthly magazine focused exclusively on chasing out the Devil.
“The rise in the number of exorcists from four to more than 120 over the course of 15 years in Poland is telling,” Father Aleksander Posacki, a professor of philosophy and theology, and a leading demonologist and exorcist, told reporters in Warsaw at the Monday launch of the Egzorcysta monthly.
Ironically, he attributed the rise in demonic possessions in what remains one of Europe’s most devoutly Catholic nations partly to the switch from atheist communism to free-market capitalism in 1989.
“It’s indirectly due to changes in the system — capitalism creates more opportunities to do business in the area of occultism. Fortune telling has even been categorized as employment for taxation,” Posacki said.
“If people can make money out of it, naturally it grows and its spiritual harm grows too,” he said, hastening to add that authentic exorcism is absolutely free of charge.
Posacki, who also serves on an international panel of expert Roman Catholic exorcists, highlighted what he termed the “helplessness of various schools of psychology and psychiatry” when confronted with extreme behaviors that conventional therapies fail to cure.
“Possession comes as a result of committing evil. Stealing, killing and other sins,” he told reporters, adding that evil spirits are chased out using a guide of ritual prayers approved by Polish-born former pope John Paul II in 1999.
“Our hands are full,” fellow exorcist Father Andrzej Grefkowicz said, saying exorcists have a three-month waiting list in Warsaw.
Priests performing exorcisms also work with psychiatrists to avoid mistaking mental illness for possession, he said.
“I’ve invited psychiatrists to meetings when I’ve had doubts about a case and often we’ve both concluded the issue is mental illness, hysteria, not possession,” he said.
According to both exorcists, depictions of demonic possession in horror films are largely accurate.
“It manifests itself in the form of screams, shouting, anger, rage — threats are common,” Posacki said.
“Manifestation in the form of levitation is less common, but does occur and we must speak about it — I’ve seen it with my own eyes,” he added.
With its 62-page first issue including articles titled “New Age: the spiritual vacuum cleaner” and “Satan is real” the Egzorcysta monthly, with a print run of 15,000, is selling for 10 zloty (US$3.10) a copy.