An American exorcist has blamed the internet for rising numbers of young people who say they are possessed by the Devil.
Websites dedicated to the occult, witchcraft, Tarot cards, psychics and séances were increasingly exposing young people to demonic influences, said Fr Gary Thomas.
The priest, whose story has just been made into a major Hollywood film starring Welsh actor Sir Anthony Hopkins, said that pornography and drug abuse were also “doorways” to harassment by evil spirits.
He said there were “no statistics” on how many people might be possessed but said there was a definite increase.
“What I can tell you is that there are more and more Catholics involved in idolatrous and pagan practices,” he said. “That’s really why there’s more demonic activity. There’s the absence of God in the lives of a lot of people.”
He added: “A lot of parents today have no critical eye of faith with which to even recognise the dangers their children are in. A lot of this is going on with the internet. There are lots and lots of demonic websites.”
Speaking to the Catholic World Report magazine he continued: “A demon doesn’t show up. He has to be invited in … The involvement in pagan, satanic, or occult practices are the classical ways.
“Pornography is a doorway. But addictions of any kind can be – not are, but can be – a doorway, but it’s coupled with other things. For instance, drug use alone isn’t going to invite the demonic in, but coupled with the occult it could.”
Fr Thomas, of San José diocese, California, is rapidly emerging as the most famous exorcist in America after the story of his ministry was turned into a film called The Rite, which will be released in Britain on February 25.