“A good confessor has to be very discerning, particularly when he has to deal with ‘real spiritual disorders,’ ” Pope Francis told priests during a Vatican training seminar.

Pope Francis seems to be acutely aware of the devil and his work. Pope Francis advised priests who hear confessions not to hesitate when there is a need to call an exorcist. He spoke about the subject to a number of priests attending a workshop at the Vatican. The workshop was about re-skilling priests on being a better confessor.

The Pontiff drew distinctions between true demon possessions and mental illnesses. He said that to narrow down the field, priests must consult psychiatric specialists at first. He also told the priests exorcisms must also be counted as a kind of treatment. The Pope expanded more on this at the Vatican website saying that “discernment” is important when it comes to understanding the person sitting on the confessional wall's other side. The priest must find out whether the person concerned is psychotic or possessed.

The Pope mentioned the person concerned could suffer from spiritual disturbances. These must be carefully examined, taking into account all existential, supernatural, ecclesial and natural circumstances. Father Cipriano de Meo, a seasoned Vatican exorcist, said that an experienced exorcist can easily differentiate between a patient with mental problems and the person who is possessed. Further on, he said, the devil will allow the exorcist to know he is present in the human body. A possessed individual has a number of attitudes which that person adopts in the presence of an exorcist. The devil knows the priest is ready to fight him and he will regard the latter as an adversary. There will be a number of frightening facial expressions, threatening gestures and words. There will also be blasphemies against God and also against Our Lady.

For Pope Francis, this is one of many times he has spoken concerning exorcising demons from the body of a believer. In fact, he refers to the devil much more frequently compared to the other pontiffs, making Satan as being physically present in the world.

Pope Francis defined jihadists who killed a French priest by stabbing, as satanic. The same moniker he reserved for priests who sexually violated children as well. In the second case, the violation of children's bodies was described by him as equal to participate in a satanic mass. A number of Vatican universities regularly conduct courses for aspiring exorcists. This practice continues despite the resistance of a few intellectuals within the Catholic Church.

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