July 5, 2014 - The Catholic Church recently formally recognized The International Association of Exorcists, a group of 250 priests worldwide who claim to drive demons and devils out of possessed individuals.
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The recognition is seen as another sign that Catholic Church formally approves of exorcisms. Pope Francis has been more vocal than many of his predecessors about the reality of demons and devils, and was seen last year praying over a man said to be possessed.
Because demonic possession has never been scientifically proven, the Vatican's move lends legitimacy to a controversial practice whose victims may be better served by psychologists and other mental health professionals. Exorcisms can be dangerous, and indeed many people have died while others tried to drive real or imagined demons from their bodies.
An exorcism in 2005 at a Romanian convent resulted in the death of Maricica Irina Cornici, a 23-year-old nun who said she heard the devil telling her she was sinful. With assistance from four nuns, priest Daniel Corogeanu bound Cornici to a cross, gagged her mouth with a towel, and left her for three days without food or water. Cornici, who had a history of schizophrenia, died of suffocation and dehydration.