“Overwhelmingly we were asked to exorcise COVID from people who were sick,” Father Miguel Martin, a Spanish exorcist who is attending the conference, told The Daily Beast. “We were told under no circumstance should we perform the rite on a COVID patient.”
This year the conference, which is officially called the Course on Exorcism and Prayer of Liberation, is especially focused on angels and demons in Sacred Scripture and the Magisterium, as well as seminars on the Asian world in the context of Afro-Brazilian magic rites, which are not in line with Catholic teaching.
For the first time ever, it’s not only Vatican-approved and trained exorcists who are allowed to attend. The conference organizers say the seminar has also been opened up to lay people, especially devout Catholics working in mental health, who are often called in to help discern whether someone has a psychiatric problem or is indeed a devil’s pawn. Instructor Fernanda Alfieri, who teaches about the intersection between science and religion at the University of Bologna, has studied exorcism for years. She says this year’s convention has been especially important because of the pandemic and the fear so many people have had about the unknown.