Priests in Mexico say they are currently having an immense battle with the devil. They say the country is under attack by Satan, and that more exorcists are needed to fight him, reports the BBC.
This attack, they say, is showing itself in the gruesome drug-related violence, including human sacrifice, that has engulfed the country since 2006. According to the latest official figures available, at least 70,000 people have died in this period, including gunmen, members of the security forces, and many innocent civilians.
But, the priests say, it's not just the numbers. The savagery also stands out. In recent years it has not been uncommon in many parts of Mexico for children to find dismembered bodies on the streets on their way to school. Or for commuters on busy roads to drive past bridges with severely tortured corpses hanging from them. Scenes from hell.
'We believe that behind all these big and structural evils there is a dark agent and his name is The Demon. That is why the Lord wants to have here a ministry of exorcism and liberation, for the fight against the Devil,' says Father Carlos Triana, a priest, and an exorcist, in Mexico City.
'As much as we believe that the Devil was behind Adolf Hitler, possessing and directing him, we also believe that he (the Devil) is here behind the drug cartels.'
Mexico's exorcists say there is unprecedented demand for their services. Some are even not taking new cases, as they are having to exorcise demons almost every day. 'This didn't happen before', says Father Francisco Bautista, another exorcist in Mexico City.
Most of the cases, he explains, require a lesser form of exorcism, called liberation prayers - effective when a person still controls part of his or her mind and body. Only rarely does the Devil possess someone completely, he says, but when that happens, the bishop of the diocese must intervene. In Bautista's view, the rising demand for exorcism is partly explained by the large numbers of Mexicans joining the cult of Saint Death, or Santa Muerte.
FULL STORY The country where exorcisms are on the rise (BBC)