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Exorcist Hotline Created By Catholic Church In Milan, More Priests Available To Drive 'Demons' Out

First Posted: 12/03/12 EST Updated: 12/04/12 EST

Priests in Europe may soon be working overtime in their ageless struggle against the dark forces of evil.

The Catholic diocese of Milan has created a special exorcism hotline and has doubled the number of exorcism-practicing priests.

The BBC reports the number of trained priests has jumped from six to 12 to try and keep up with an apparent increase in calls over the past 15 years from citizens claiming to need the services of an exorcist.

"From the number of calls we receive, the need has doubled," Monsignor Angelo Mascheroni -- the diocese's chief exorcist since 1995 -- told the news website Incrocinews. "We get young and old, men and women, people with different levels of education, from school-leavers to graduates."

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A special switchboard has been set up where people can call Monday through Friday between 2:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. for all their exorcism needs. Mascheroni gave out the phone number to Incrocinews. Beginning with the country code, it is: 39-02-8556457 (If dialing from the U.S., you need to add 011 as the first three digits).

Mascheroni also said that one priest was reportedly seeing as many as 120 people a day.

"People in need can call and will be able to find a priest in the same area who doesn't have to travel too far," Mascheroni said, according to The Independent.

While the diocese receives up to four calls each day, what exactly are people calling about? Are demons running rampant in and around Milan, necessitating interventions by priests trained in the task of banishing evil from unwilling victims?

Mascheroni suggests that the rise in exorcist calls could have something to do with the number of parents having discipline problems with their children.

"Usually the parents call, concerned about a child who won't go to school or who's taking drugs or rebelling," he said. "In reality, it's not a demon, but when they're 18 years old, young people don't want to be told what to do."

Maybe that's where the phrase "you little devils" originated.

Even with the increased number of exorcism requests and priests available to perform them, Mascheroni cautions against believing that there's any sort of "real diabolical phenomena" behind it all, preferring to blame "mental and psychiatric disorders" for the reported unusual behaviors.

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Father Gabriele Amorth, the Vatican's chief exorcist for 25 years, claims involvement with about 70,000 demonic possession cases. That's a lot of alleged bad energy and fodder for bad movies.

Last year, Amorth insisted that sex abuse scandals in the Roman Catholic church proved that "the Devil is at work inside the Vatican," according to the Independent.

Amorth also previously stated that "Practicing yoga is Satanic, it leads to evil just like reading Harry Potter. In Harry Potter, the Devil acts in a crafty and covert manner, under the guise of extraordinary powers, magic spells and curses."