WARSAW: With exorcism booming in Poland, Roman Catholic priests here have joined forces with a publisher to launch what they claim is the world's first monthly magazine focused exclusively on chasing out the devil.
"The rise in the number or exorcists from four to more than 120 over the course of 15 years in Poland is telling," Father Aleksander Posacki, a professor of philosophy, theology and leading demonologist and exorcist told reporters in Warsaw at the Monday launch of the Egzorcysta monthly.
Ironically, he attributed the rise in demonic possessions in what remains one of Europe's most devoutly Catholic nations partly to the switch from atheist communism to free market capitalism in 1989.
"It's indirectly due to changes in the system: capitalism creates more opportunities to do business in the area of occultism. Fortune telling has even been categorised as employment for taxation," Posacki told AFP.
"If people can make money out of it, naturally it grows and its spiritual harm grows too," he said, hastening to add authentic exorcism is absolutely free of charge.
Posacki, who also serves on an international panel of expert Roman Catholic exorcists, highlighted what he termed the "helplessness of various schools of psychology and psychiatry" when confronted with extreme behaviours that conventional therapies fail to cure.
"Possession comes as a result of committing evil. Stealing, killing and other sins," he told reporters, adding that evil spirits are chased out using a guide of ritual prayers approved by Polish-born pope John Paul II in 1999.
"Our hands are full," admitted fellow exorcist and Polish Roman Catholic priest Father Andrzej Grefkowicz, revealing exorcists have a three month waiting list in the capital Warsaw.
Priests performing exorcism also work with psychiatrists in order to avoid mistaking mental illness for possession, he said.
"I've invited psychiatrists to meetings when I've had doubts about a case and often we've both concluded the issue is mental illness, hysteria, not possession," he said.
According to both exorcists, depictions of demonic possession in horror films are largely accurate.
"It manifests itself in the form of screams, shouting, anger, rage - threats are common," Posacki said.
"Manifestation in the form or levitation is less common, but does occur and we must speak about it -- I've seen it with my own eyes," he added.
With its 62-page first issue including articles titled "New Age -- the spiritual vacuum cleaner" and "Satan is real", the Egzorcysta monthly with a print-run of 15,000 by the Polwen publishers is selling for 10 zloty (2.34 euros, 3.10 dollars) per copy.