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Exorcist association gets Vatican approval

Pope Francis placed his hands on the head of a young man last year after celebrating mass in St. Peter’s Square. The young man heaved deeply a half-dozen times, convulsed and shook, and then slumped in his wheelchair as Francis prayed over him.

APTN/AP File

Pope Francis placed his hands on the head of a young man last year after celebrating mass in St. Peter’s Square. The young man heaved deeply a half-dozen times, convulsed and shook, and then slumped in his wheelchair as Francis prayed over him.

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Exorcists now have a legal weapon at their disposal.

The Vatican has formally recognized the International Association of Exorcists, a group of 250 priests in 30 countries who liberate the faithful from demons.

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The Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano reported Tuesday that the Vatican’s Congregation for Clergy had approved the organization’s statutes and recognized the group under canon law.

More than his predecessors, Pope Francis speaks frequently about the devil, and last year was seen placing his hands on the head of a man purportedly possessed by four demons in what exorcists said was a prayer of liberation from Satan.

The head of the association, the Rev. Francesco Bamonte, said the Vatican approval was cause for joy. ‘‘Exorcism is a form of charity that benefits those who suffer,’’ he told L’Osservatore.

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