Help is at hand for Catholics in Milan who need to ward off evil at short notice.The diocese has set up an exorcist hotline to cope with growing demand for assistance in dealing with potential cases of demonic possession.
People contacting the switchboard will be able to schedule a visit from one of a team of 12 priests on call to deal with emergency exorcisms.
Monsignor Angelo Mascheroni, who has been chief exorcist in Milan since 1995, said the service had been set up in response to increasing numbers of requests from worshippers, and added that the number of exorcists appointed in the diocese had doubled over the past 15 years.
The priest, who described how one exorcist was dealing with as many as 120 cases every day, said the switchboard is manned from Monday to Friday between 2.30pm and 5pm.
'People in need can call and will be able to find a priest in the same area who doesn't have to travel too far,' the Monsignor told Italy's Chiesa di Milano website.
While for film fans the word exorcism conjures images of priests trying to drive a demon spirit from a levitating Linda Blair, Monsignor Mascheroni said that the most important role of the diocese's team was 'listening and consolation'.
He added that, in his experience, instances of 'real diabolical phenomena' were rare, according to a report in The Independent.
The Monsignor said many of the callers were exasperated parents struggling to cope with a rebellious child refusing to go to school or experimenting with drugs.
'In reality it’s not a demon, but when they’re 18 years old young people don’t want to be told what to do,' he said.
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