Catechesis on the Demonic: ‘The Exorcist Files’ Podcast Tops the Charts
New series unpacks the dangers of the devil — and the victory of Christ over evil.
Father Carlos Martins of the Companions of the Cross well knows the power of the prayer. For years, he has been the director of the Treasures of the Church ministry that evangelizes by bringing the relics of upwards of 150 saints to churches throughout the United States, plus Canada and a few other countries, for prayerful veneration. Officially, he is a custos reliquiarum (ecclesiastically appointed curate of relics).
Father Martins is also an official exorcist on two continents. As such, seeing and knowing the great needs in today’s morally and spiritually deteriorating culture, he has launched The Exorcist Files podcast. He shared with Register staff writer Joseph Pronechen the reasons for and the details of the show which premiered on iHeart in January.
How did this podcast come about?
Due to the ever-increasing de-Christianization of Western society, the rise in occult practices even among Christians, and the poor state of Christian religious formation, the need for deliverance and exorcism ministry has increased dramatically. Since I have worked closely with the Dicastery for the Causes of Saints and served as an exorcist in North America and Europe, the Holy See asked me to undertake a catechesis about the Church’s teaching regarding the demonic, spiritual warfare and exorcism.
Tell us about the podcast.
Although the podcast is a teaching [series], it is unique, in that it is not a series of lectures but 3-D binaural reenactments, portrayed by professional voice actors, along with my narration of relevant teaching and information. Each episode is based on one of my exorcism case files, which I use to illustrate various topics, such as how one becomes possessed, why demons desire to inhabit people and things, how an afflicted person is freed, and how to protect oneself against evil.
Can you give an illustration?
The first case, for example, zeros in on a situation that is not uncommon. A couple — Mark and Cheryl — have been married for years and have been unable to conceive, even after trying everything. Unfortunately for them, a desperate attempt to solicit help from a mysterious source would inadvertently open the door to an unwanted visitor. When Cheryl’s behavior became increasingly erratic, Mark seeks the assistance of a priest.
To be clear, the podcasts are not recordings of actual exorcisms. They are recreations that were done in conjunction with iHeart Media, the largest podcast producer in the world. iHeart assigned one of its most talented engineering teams to produce the 3-D binaural series.
What is 3-D binaural?
It is a three-dimensional layering of sounds, such that listeners feel as if the episode is unfolding “around” them. Listeners will feel like they are inside the room with me as I meet and “interview” a victim of demonic oppression, as I diagnose the presence of the demon, and will feel as if they are standing shoulder to shoulder with me as I conduct the exorcism.
Is that why you decided to do this as a podcast series?
Podcasts are audio recordings that you can listen to whenever you want. Most people subscribe to them through their phone because part of the pleasure of a podcast is the convenience of taking the show “with you.” While some people like to listen to podcasts while they’re sitting in a comfortable chair, others find them the perfect companion while doing an activity, such as cleaning the house, cooking a meal or commuting.
Why include dramatic reenactments?
Three reasons. One, the Church puts out teaching constantly, and very few chime in. Most people regard lectures — especially lectures on religious topics — as boring. As we are quickly losing the Christian culture, utilizing a different approach has become necessary.
Two, I believe dramatizations of actual events give the listener a better appreciation of the adversarial nature of evil and what can happen when it makes its way into our lives. It also makes the need for personal conversion much more convincing.
Three — and this is by far the biggest — young persons aged 18 to 29 are increasingly leaving organized religion. A recent Pew survey found that the number of religiously unaffiliated persons in this demographic increased from 15% to almost 20% in just five years. However, another survey by Public Policy Polling showed that a whopping 63% of the same demographic believe that people can become possessed by demons, a figure higher than any other group. Evidently, in the age group most disinterested in religion, something is occurring in their lives that makes them conclude demons are real. I feel it necessary to reach out to this age group — using podcasts, a medium with which they are familiar — to aid them in interpreting their experiences in a healthy manner and to direct them to the One that has vanquished evil.
Are the exorcism accounts real? Are not the details of an exorcism confidential?
Yes, to both questions. To maintain anonymity for the victims and their families, I have changed the names of all involved as well as other details where there was a reasonable chance the victims or their families could be identified.
How can people listen?
The podcast is free, and the easiest way to access it is through one’s phone wherever people get their podcasts. For those who are unfamiliar with accessing podcasts, they can visit the “FAQ” section of the website, ExorcistFiles.tv, to get instructions on how to download it.
When are episodes released?
The season will consist of 14 episodes. New ones are released each Sunday. Future cases will involve the possession of a firefighter and of a group of friends who got more than what they bargained for when they consulted a Ouija board [the use of which the Church instructs against].
How have listeners reacted?
It is immensely popular. Just six days after the release of the first episode, it reached the No. 1 spot in Spotify’s “Religion & Spirituality” category and is among the top podcasts overall on Apple. Those two companies are the largest podcast platforms in the world.
This success has caught everyone by surprise. iHeart Media is the largest digital content producer in the world, and even it was startled. They were hoping for a ranking within the top 200, but to have risen this high, this quickly, no one anticipated. One reviewer left this review on Apple Podcasts, “[Father Martins] does a great job of explaining what demonic agreement entails and how it can affect a person. … I’m going to forward this to folks that ask me about demonic activity because it is educational without being salacious.”
Another reviewer wrote, “An amazing production: professional actors, carefully crafted sound effects, clear and authentic teaching. Wow! Had me on the edge of my seat.”
The praise has not only come from Catholics. The podcast has proven to be much discussed within the Protestant community, with one pastor leaving the following review: “As a Protestant pastor, I honestly expected this to be more sensationalized but was pleasantly surprised by the sober take and explanation.”
What are your ultimate hopes concerning this series?
People rarely think about the devil anymore. They rarely hear him preached anymore. The result is that a great many people — even Catholics — no longer believe in him.
I want people to be aware that we are in a battle. We have an enemy that desires us to be separated from our Creator and be with him in hell for eternity. He stops at nothing to achieve this goal.
Nevertheless, if the struggle against evil is a constant part of the human condition, then so is the solution — Jesus Christ, the Second Adam and Savior of the World — even if each generation must rediscover him.
I pray that this podcast will aid listeners in that rediscovery. Though its subject matter is unsettling by its nature, my intent is to share the Good News of Christ’s victory, educate others on avoiding the entrapments of the Adversary, and give confidence in the Bride of Christ — the Church — who delights both in announcing Christ’s victory and dispensing the spoils.
Any final thought or other reactions?
The request for interviews and show appearances to speak about the podcast, and about the ministry of exorcism in general, has been overwhelming. In fact, more requests from Protestant entities have come in than even from Catholic ones. All of this demonstrates a need for the thoroughgoing catechesis on the demonic that the podcast contains.
Nevertheless, while the podcast involves the telling of actual accounts of demonic activity, its focus is the victory of Jesus Christ, who has conquered his enemy and who is continuously pillaging his kingdom. The Victor has already won.