POCZERNIN, Poland - This wind-swept village is bracing for an invasion of demons, thanks to a priest who believes he can defeat Satan.
The Rev. Andrzej Trojanowski, a soft-spoken Pole, plans to build a "spiritual oasis" that will serve as Europe's only center dedicated to performing exorcisms. With the blessing of the local Catholic archbishop and theological support from the Vatican, the center will aid a growing number of Poles possessed by evil forces or the devil himself, he said.
"This is my task, this is my purpose -- I want to help these people," said Trojanowski, who has worked as an exorcist for four years. "There is a group of people who cannot get relief through any other practices and who need peace."
Exorcism -- the church rite of expelling evil spirits from tortured souls -- is making a comeback in Catholic regions of Europe. Last July, more than 300 practitioners gathered in the Polish city of Czestochowa for the fourth International Congress of Exorcists.
About 70 priests serve as trained exorcists in Poland, about double the number of five years ago. An estimated 300 exorcists are active in Italy. Foremost among them: the Rev. Gabriele Amorth, 82, who performs exorcisms daily in Rome and is dean of Europe's corps of demon-battling priests.
"People don't pray anymore, they don't go to church, they don't go to confession. The devil has an easy time of it," Amorth said in an interview. "There's a lot more devil worship, people interested in satanic things and seances, and less in Jesus."
A corp of demon-battling priest?
Sure it sounds cool...in a comic book, a fantasy film, a book...but THIS...IS...REALITY...
...Marriage counseling = Exorcism ??? WHAT! HUH?
Jankowski cited the case of a woman who asked for a divorce days after renewing her wedding vows as part of a marriage counseling program. What was suspicious, he said, was how the wife suddenly developed a passionate hatred for her husband.
"According to what I could perceive, the devil was present and acting in an obvious way," he said. "How else can you explain how a wife, in the space of a couple of weeks, could come to hate her own husband, a man who is a good person?"
Jankowski said that an archbishop granted him the authority last October to perform exorcisms and that he's been busy ever since. As for the afflicted wife? "We're still working with her," he said.
How could a wife come to hate her husband...is he waiting for the punch line there?
And, working with her? You mean, reminding her that the Church frowns at divorce again and again? That kind of help?
...I would love to see a good video of these displays...to support these incredible displays, not hearsay, not people screaming incoherently, not a sick person pumping a lot of adrenaline...
Exorcists said the people they help can be in the grip of evil to varying degrees. Only a small fraction, they said, are completely possessed by demons -- which can cause them to display inhuman strength, speak in exotic tongues, recoil in the presence of sacred objects or overpower others with a stench.
And, frankly, if you want to an overpowering stench...AHEM...moving on...
...Ah, the power of prayer to heal...didn't the study of prayer end up none too promising?
In those cases, the exorcists must confront the devil directly, using the power of the church to order it to abandon its host. More often, however, priests perform what some of them refer to as "soft exorcisms," using prayer to rid people of evil influences that control their lives.
...I hear ya.
"People are worried about the potential for crazy people coming here," said Ksawery Nyks, 50, a longtime resident. He said most people were opposed unless the church could guarantee the exorcism center would have adequate security.