A threefold increase in the demand for exorcisms has prompted the Vatican to hold an international conference in a bid to train more priests to carry them out.
The church is concerned that the skills of some of its current exorcists have declined and is worried priests are no longer willing to learn the techniques.
According to Friar Beningo Palilla, one of the organisers of the conference, which took place in Sicily, there are now some 500,000 cases requiring exorcism in Italy each year, Vatican Radio reported.
He blamed the increase on a growing number of people seeking the services of fortune tellers and Tarot readers in recent years.
Such practices 'open the door to the devil and to possession,' he claimed.
Many of the cases are not actually related to demonic possession, but to spiritual or psychological problems, he said, but they nonetheless must be investigated.
Palilla, a priest in Palermo, is calling for an across-the-board improvement in training.
'We priests, very often, do not know how to deal with the concrete cases presented to us - in the preparation for the priesthood, we do not talk about these things,' he said.
Palilla is particularly concerned about some priests conducting exorcisms without proper training.
He called for 'a period of apprenticeship, as happens for many professionals' and said priests wanting to train as exorcists 'should work alongside an expert to learn in the field.'
Palilla said the aim of the conference, billed as the first in the world on exorcism, was to 'to offer a rich reflection and articulation on a topic that is sometimes unspoken and controversial'.
Exorcism can only performed with high-level permission from within the church.
Four years ago, the Vatican backed the International Association of Exorcists, which was founded in 1990 and has licensed some 200 members on six continents.