Anyone who has sat through Exorcist II: The Heretic or Exorcist: The Beginning would rightly think the world is all set on exorcists, thank you very much. The Catholic Church would disagree. USA Today reports the Vatican will be hosting a week-long international conference on exorcisms in April after demand for exorcists has apparently tripled in Italy alone. The church, it seems, is worried about what USA Today calls "the uneven skills of some of its current exorcists," as well as priests unwilling to learn how to perform exorcisms. Those worries come out of a recent four-day meeting organized by Friar Beningo Palilla in Sicily.
Palilla tells Vatican Radio there are about half a million cases requiring an exorcist in Italy every year (though he admits not every case is an actual demonic possession). Palilla says the number of such cases is increasing because more Italians are patronizing fortune tellers and Tarot readers, which opens "the door to the devil and to possession." The Local reports a consumer organization found last year that 13 million Italians regularly visit astrologers, card readers, or fortune tellers—an increase of 3 million since 2001. Worried about mistakes by self-taught exorcists, Palilla says he wants to see an improvement in exorcist training. A few years back, the Vatican offered its support to the International Association of Exorcists, which has licensed 200 or so exorcists since its founding in 1990. Palilla says the conference in April will be the world's first centered on exorcism. (Read more exorcism stories.)