Friday, October 16, 2009

Not To Believe In Witchcraft Is The Greatest Of Heresies

Bishops ask for action against belief in witchcraft


VATICAN CITY - Two bishops from Nigeria asked the Synod of Bishops for Africa to make a clear commitment to educating Catholics about the fact that, while the devil exists, witchcraft does not.

"Suspected witches are abandoned, isolated, discriminated (against) and ostracized from the community," Bishop Augustine Akubeze of Uromi told the synod Oct. 12.

"Sometimes they are taken to the forest and slaughtered or disgraced publicly and murdered."

Witches do not exist and so the accusations are always false, Akubeze said. Even worse, people have been known to accuse someone of being a witch just to settle personal squabbles.

Akubeze said that while witchcraft "lacks any justification in reason, science and common sense," people continue to believe in it.

He called on the synod to make clear the Church's teaching that God is all-powerful and that he sent his Son to save all people from evil.

Bishop Joseph Ekuwem of Uyo, Nigeria, said that across the continent people believe that "witchcraft is an evil force capable of inflicting both spiritual and physical harm on a person."

The superstitions about witchcraft are so pronounced that people see witches as having more power than God, he said.

He urged development of simple versions of the Church's teaching about evil and Jesus' victory over it to be developed for the faithful.

The Church should also develop a new rite of exorcism and appoint an exorcist in each diocese, Ekuwem said.

In 1999 the Vatican published a new Rite of Exorcisms. The 1999 rules reflect the Church's recognition that many symptoms previously associated with possession can now be explained by medical science.

Picture found here.


nanoboy said...

I think it's sort of the double meaning of the word "witch." It can mean different things to different people, and those meanings have some overlap. However, how the word is understood is a big deal. A lot of people hear the word "witch," and they think of someone who has some eldritch secrets that they use for their own ends, pacts with dark spirits, malevolent attachments, deals with the devil...

Others see the word and think of people who worship the older pantheons, especially those of Western Europe. Such folks believe in magic and other unscientific things, sure, but they aren't out getting unjust revenge on others through curses and such. They are simply practitioners of a certain kind of religion.

I don't think that the Vatican is entirely wrong here. I mean, a lot of those people accused of witchcraft in Africa probably don't even worship a pre-Christian or pre-Islam deity. They're inconvenient, as Hecate likes to say, or they are doing something that others fear and don't understand. Apparently, that fellow in Malawi who built a windmill electrical generator for his village was suspected of witchcraft. People just didn't understand. It's that attitude that the Vatican is addressing here, not that I particularly like defending the Vatican.

Hecate said...


Yeah, I'm just reminding the Catholics that they haven't always had such a kind and understanding attitude.

Anne Johnson said...

I'm not convinced that witches aren't more powerful than God.