Want to report a case of demonic possession? Just dial a special number. People in despair can call and expect a visit by a priest now that the Catholic Church has set up an exorcist hotline in its biggest diocese, Milan, to deal with such requests.
A switchboard has been established, available from Monday to Friday from 2.30pm to 5pm. To meet the growing demand, the number of priests dealing with demonic possession cases has doubled to 12.
Monsignor Angelo Mascheroni, the diocese’s chief exorcist of 17 years, told the incrocinews Italian website he has met an exorcist who set a record of seeing 120 people a day.
“He was only able to offer a blessing, to cheer people up. It's not enough. One should take between two to four appointments a day, no more. Otherwise it’s too much,” he noted.
The Monsignor warned those who prefer magicians to priests in emergency cases.
"Magicians will charge you, but we devote our time, listening, giving blessings … everything for free – it couldn't be other way. And we do not limit ourselves to 10 minutes of meeting, but give as much is needed," Monsignor Mascheroni added.
He said among those who turn to exorcists are "young and old, men and women, people of different cultural levels, from fifth grade pupils to graduation students."
"Usually the parents call, worried about their kids, saying that the child doesn't go to school, takes drugs or rebels against something … In reality, it's not a demon, but when you're 18 years old, you don't want any restrictions. It is therefore important to tell one situation from another well," the Monsignor told the incrocinews website.
"Real diabolical phenomena [cases], at least in my experience, are very rare," he added.
"I always ask if before calling an exorcist they saw magicians…Wonder if they went to specialists, because sometimes they are mental phenomena, mental and psychiatric disorders," he concluded.