It’s a classic moment in cinema: a car pulls up to a dark house and from the vehicle steps a man in a dark coat, a hat, and a suitcase - he steps forward into a pool of light that’s coming from the bedroom window of the possessed girl, Reagan; I’m, of course, talking about The Exorcist. This moment has become iconic but the practice of actual exorcism has mostly gone out of fashion, performed, rarely, by the Catholic Church (more-so by other denominations but those are not the ritualistic versions portrayed in movies).
Still, there is one priest who continues the practice and his name is Fr. Vincenzo Taraborelli. He is one of Rome’s busiest exorcists working in a windowless room in the back of the Vatican where he sees up to 30 people a day. "Before doing exorcisms I urge people to see a psychologist or a psychiatrist, and I ask them to bring me their prognosis. I'm in touch with many psychologists who send their patients here," says Fr. Taraborelli.
Fr. Taraborelli described how he prepares for an exorcism; "First of all, I get the room ready. Then if the person is not doing well, I try to calm them down reassure them. I invite them to join me in prayer. But many of them when they come here are already disturbed."
The church believes that people can become possessed by demons and has used that to explain murderous behaviors and bad events that plague people. However non-believers explain it away as a psychological problem or medieval superstitions.
Fr Taraborelli rejects the skeptics. "Well, someone who isn't a believer doesn't believe in the devil either. But, someone who believes knows that the devil exists, you can read it in the gospel. Then you only need to see how the world is nowadays. It has never been this bad. These violence acts are not human.”