For years, international pop star Madonna has infuriated Catholics the world over with her unabashedly religion-tinged performances and songs that often play off Catholic imagery. But the singer's distinctive style has apparently crossed a line with an international community of exorcists, who plan on discussing the "Madonna problem" at their annual conference at a Polish monastery.
Held every two years at the Roman Catholic monastery of Jasna Góra, the conference has been known to draw as many as 300 exorcists to south-central Poland to discuss such topics as the "current fashion for vampirism in Europe" and the "devil’s deceit during exorcism," according to the Agence France-Presse. An ancient rite that has roots in the New Testament, exorcism is a ceremony meant to rid a human body of any demonic spirits.
This year, the weeklong conference will focus in part on the American-born Madonna, who offended Polish Catholics over the years with a series of public-relations snafus that have spurred petitions, protests and vocal opposition to her tours.
"Part of the conference is dedicated to the hidden subliminal message in communication, and the choice of this subject was inspired by the woman who dares to call herself Madonna," Father Andrzej Grefkowic, an exorcist and conference organizer told The Telegraph. "We've been worried about her concerts."
The number of Polish exorcists has risen dramatically since 1999, according to The Telegraph. Besides the Jasna Góra conference, the country also boasts an exorcism center in Szczecin, which attracts visitors from both inside and outside the country, according to The Local.
As a leading exorcist in the region, Father Grefkowic often speaks to the media about the activities of his Polish colleagues, and has been open about the booming nature of the exorcism business.
In 2012, Grefkowicz told the Agence France-Presse that demand was so high for the ceremonies in the capital of Warsaw, exorcists maintained three-month waiting lists. Around the same time, a local publisher announced the launch of Egzorcysta, a magazine devoted to exorcism with an emphasis on devil possession.
But the exorcism resurgence is not limited to Poland, or even Europe, for that matter. Requests for exorcisms among American Catholics are also on the rise, according to The Atlantic. And in 2010, around a quarter of active U.S. bishops registered for a two-day conference in Illinois that discussed the Rite of Exorcism.