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Posted on Tuesday, December 20 - 2005

Italy's leading exorcist said on Thursday there were up to 330 priests practising the Vatican-approved procedures for casting out the Devil all over the country. In the Catholic Church exorcists must be priests and they have to be given a sort of 'licence' to perform the special rites by their local bishop .Father Gabriele Amorth, founder and head of an international association of exorcists, said there were no official figures for Italy but he reckoned the number was between300 and 330 .While exorcists were busy trying to expel Satan from possessed Italians, Father Amorth implied that many in the country were unwittingly inviting the Devil into their lives through involvement in the occult .Exorcists say that contact with the occult is one of the ways the Devil can gain access to a person's mind, sometimes exploiting the situation to 'possess' that individual.

"In all these years the Church hasn't noticed that churches are getting emptier while at least 13 million Italians are turning to seers, sorcerers, witches and specialists in the occult,"he said .Father Amorth is one of Rome's nine approved exorcists and the author of several books on the subject .Speaking at the presentation of a new book on his experiences, he also touched on some of the lesser known aspects of exorcism, such as the need for a psychiatrist to help formerly possessed people recover .

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