Pope Francis has dispatched a group of exorcist priests, approved the organization's statutes, and recognized it under official canon law, according to a report.
The Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, reported that the International Association of Exorcists has been recognized by the Vatican's Congregation for Clergy, according to the Huffington Post.
The move gives legal recognition to the practice of exorcism, which aims to drive out demons or evil spirits from people believed to be possessed and vulnerable to becoming the tool of the devil.
The rite entails a "confrontation" in addition to prayer, and once started, continues until it appears the person is freed of sin.
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It could take days, weeks, or months of constant prayer and exorcism, and not all rituals are successful the first time, the Gale Encyclopedia of the Unusual and Unexplained says, according to the Huffington Post.
"Exorcism is a form of charity that benefits those who suffer," said the head of the association, the Rev. Francesco Bamonte.
According to the Huffington Post, Rev. Bamonte told La Repubblica newspaper earlier this year, "Diabolical possessions are on the increase as a result of people subscribing to occultism. The few exorcists that we have in the dioceses are often not able to handle the enormous number of requests for help."
The group has roughly 250 priests that perform the ritual, the Post reported.
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