Pope Francis says priests shouldn't hesitate to refer people to an exorcist if they suffer from "genuine spiritual disturbances."
In an address to a group of priests at a Vatican workshop on confession, the pope said good confessors are "more useful than ever" and "even necessary in our times," CruxNow.com reported.
Notes from the speech last Friday were published on the Vatican website.
The pontiff said confessors are called to venture to the "peripheries of evil and sin" – and people coming to confess their sins may be in desperate situations.
"They could also have spiritual disturbances, whose nature should be submitted to careful discernment, taking into account all the existential, ecclesial, natural and supernatural circumstances,” Francis said.
“When the confessor becomes aware of the presence of genuine spiritual disturbances – that may be in large part psychic, and therefore must be confirmed by means of healthy collaboration with the human sciences – he must not hesitate to refer the issue to those who, in the diocese, are charged with this delicate and necessary ministry, namely, exorcists."
He added that priests given the "delicate and necessary ministry" of being an exorcist must be chosen with "great care and great prudence."
Vatican exorcist Father Cipriano de Meo said it's easy for an experienced exorcist to discern between mental illness and possession by the devil, The Daily Beast reported.
“A possessed person has various general attitudes towards an exorcist, who is seen by the Adversary as an enemy ready to fight him,” he told the Catholic news service ACI.
"There's no lack of frightening facial expressions, threatening words or gestures and other things, but especially blasphemies against God and Our Lady."
The pope has spoken frequently about the fight against Satan in the modern world, saying earlier this year those who follow Jesus will face obstacles put up by "unclean spirits," and suggesting last December that the devil had been inspiring resistance to his Vatican reforms, CruxNow.com reported.
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