Head Spinning

Exorcist Shortage in Catholic Church

If you find yourself screaming obscenities, spewing green vomit and levitating, you might as well just get in line. The Catholic Church in the United States is experiencing a severe shortage of priests who know how to conduct an exorcism—as few as five or six clergymen know the rites. The 1973 film The Exorcist is partly to blame for the precipitous drop in qualified exorcists, after the cult classic demonized the holy procedure, turning it into a laughingstock. As immigrants from predominantly Catholic countries have increased their number in the U.S., the church has been increasingly haunted by more requests for exorcisms than it can carry out: As many as 400 are demanded every year, but only two or three are conducted. To help fix the problem, the church has convened an emergency two-day conference in Baltimore this weekend to help train dozens of priests and bishops.