Last week, the Vatican announced a new initiative to fight the Devil.
They plan on training hundreds of priests as exorcists. Each and every bishop will be required to have a team of exorcists in his diocese trained and ready on a moment's notice to conduct exorcisms and to take action against extreme Godlessness.
It makes sense doesn't it? Here's a Church which is currently unable to find sufficient priests to fulfil basic pastoral duties such as conducting mass, holding confession, visiting the sick and which in most countries, has to leave about a third of its parishes without a priest, and now it is going to somehow find hundreds of priests to be experts in exorcism.
Father Gabriele Amworth, the Vatican's exorcist-in-chief stated:
"Thanks be to God that we have a Pope who has decided to fight the Devil head-on"
Another Vatican exorcism expert, Father Paolo Scarafino thinks interest in Satanism is growing because people are losing faith in the Church. According to him:
"People suffer and think that the Devil can solve their problems."
I don't get it. Is there really a problem with Satanism; at least in the Catholic sense of Satanism? Sure, there are various churches which claim to be Satanic, but they are not worshipping the Catholic Devil, but rather (what they think is) an ancient pagan deity. Or they follow LaVey's invented pastiche religion. And a very small number of young people, as an act of rebellion, pretend to be followers of Satan, even committing foolish acts of vandalism. But ultimately, to be Satanic in a Catholic sense, you have to accept Catholic theology and then consciously choose the dark side. I strongly doubt this is going on to any great extent, and I doubt it is a growing problem. Let us not connect loss of faith in the Catholic God with a faith in an evil entity.
Further, the concept of Godlessness as implied by "losing faith" is completely at odds with the concept of Devil worship. They are mutually exclusive ideas. Linking them is simple ignorance. Only a narrow-minded priesthood which cannot understand why people find the concept of a deity unbelievable could invent a connection.
However, the Vatican still plans to train exorcists to solve the problem of demonic possession. For information, here are some of the signs of possession as determined by the Vatican:
- Speaking or understanding languages which the person has never learned.
(Pentecostals! Watch out! The Vatican is targeting you.)
- Knowing and revealing things the person has no earthly way of knowing.
(Oh! Would this be like knowing God exists? Knowing Satan exists? Knowing what happens in the afterlife? Exorcise thyself, Holy Father!)
- Physical strength beyond the person's physical makeup.
(Steroids must be the devil incarnate. Now the Vatican is after Barry Bonds.)
- A violent aversion to God, the Virgin Mary, the cross, and other images of the Catholic faith.
(I guess I'm not possessed after all - my aversion is not violent.)
Isn't thatlist entirely silly? These so-called signs can apply to anyone without any need for a devil to possess the person.
But why is the Vatican so concerned with Satanism? We'll consider one possible reason in the next Meditation.