Satanism on the Rise, Say Italian Bishops

Often Combined With Superstitious Use of Religion

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ROME, MAY 17, 2001 (Zenit.org).- Italian bishops have expressed their concern over what they see as a resurgence of Satanism, fortunetelling, witchcraft and black magic.

The Italian bishops´ conference, meeting in plenary assembly in the Vatican, explained in an official statement that this new phenomenon is promoted because of its "resonance" in the media, and the "unhealthy interest" it awakens.

Their comments came as they reviewed the Italian translation of the new "Ritual of Exorcism," published in Latin by the Vatican in 1998. The document updates the text that was approved in 1614 and then enlarged in 1954.

According to the Italian bishops, phenomena such as Satanism and black magic are often combined with a superstitious use of religion, which results in offending the individual´s dignity and liberty.

"We are witnessing a rebirth of divinations, fortunetelling, witchcraft and black magic, often combined with a superstitious use of religion," the bishops´ statement said. "In certain environments, superstition and magic can coexist with scientific and technological progress, inasmuch as science and technology cannot give answers to the ultimate problems of life."

The bishops, who are preparing the pastoral orientation of the Italian Church over the next 10 years, also said they are especially worried about the "resurgence of an unhealthy interest in the sphere of the demonic."

The bishops´ conference believes that the spread of these ideas leads people to lose confidence in God, to have no faith in providence, and to instrumentalize God according to man´s immediate interests.

"All this offends the dignity and liberty of the person, as man becomes subject to dark, impersonal forces, psychological dependencies and moral degradation," the bishops stressed.