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Exorcist squad hired to fight Satan in Madrid

Published: 24 May 2013 11:40 GMT+02:00

The Cardinal Archbishop of Madrid, Antonio María Rouco Varela, has taken the unprecedented step of selecting eight priests to lock horns with Satan as expert exorcists.

Press agency EFE reports that the exorcists' specialist ghostbuster training will be led by Cesar Franco, one of the Spanish capital's three auxiliary bishops.

According to online website 'Religious Freedom', the decision was taken personally by Archbishop Rouco Valera to meet an avalanche of requests for help from the faithful to fight their otherworldly foe.

Many alleged victims of demonic possession and evil influence claim to have opened the gateway to hell with occult practices such as black magic, palmistry, Ouija boards and fortune telling.

Sources close to the Archbishop would confirm only that the issue is "being studied".

No priests are currently licensed to perform exorcisms in the Madrid area, and all would-be banishers of evil must be personally approved by the Archbishop himself.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that : "When the Church asks publicly and authoritatively in the name of Jesus Christ that a person or object be protected against the power of the Evil One and withdrawn from his dominion, it is called exorcism."

Church rules say that a "Major Exorcism" can only be performed by a priest authorized by the bishop.

Seasoned exorcists are said to begin with the textbook Rituale Romanum but improvise somewhat once the tête-à-tête with Satan is underway.

Author José María Zavala, whose book, 'This is how you beat the Devil', will be used to train the rookie damned-busters, said that only 18 active exorcists are currently registered in Spain.

Zavala named Father Salvador Hernández Ramón of Cartagena in Murcia, as the Spanish priest generally considered most fit to battle Beelzebub after years of doing regular exorcise routines around the country .

He noted: "Father Salvador spent a year in Rome exorcising with Father Gabriele Amorth. Father Salvador is the top exorcist in Spain, very famous within the church but barely known outside it."

Steve Tallantyre (news@thelocal.es)

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