It’s that age old story. A boy comes of age with the knowledge that he is “The Chosen One”, the son of exceptional parents. As he grows his honesty and compassion inspire those around him, who follow him in his battle against the ultimate evil. It is a story of temptation, redemption, and salvation. Eventually, he dies and is reborn to save the world.
That’s the seven volumes of Harry Potter in 3 sentences. It’s also the myth surrounding a certain Jewish rabbi of 2,000 years ago. Never mind the similarities, the Chief Exorcist of the Roman Catholic Church in Rome claims that the Harry Potter series inspires a belief in black magic and wizardry. The 86-year-old priest, is the honorary president for life of the International Association of Exorcists, which he founded in 1990, and a firm believer in the power of Satan.
Father Gabriele Amorth, who for years was the Vatican’s chief exorcist and claims to have cleansed hundreds of people of evil spirits, said yoga is Satanic because it leads to a worship of Hinduism and “all eastern religions are based on a false belief in reincarnation”.
This from a man whose favourite movie is appropriately, The Exorcist. He seems to think it was a documentary.
The Harry Potter books, which have sold millions of copies worldwide, “seem innocuous” but in fact encourage children to believe in black magic and wizardry, Father Amorth said.
“Practising yoga is Satanic, it leads to evil just like reading Harry Potter,” he told a film festival in Umbria this week, where he was invited to introduce The Rite, [another documentary?] a film about exorcism starring Sir Anthony Hopkins as a Jesuit priest.
“In Harry Potter the Devil acts in a crafty and covert manner, under the guise of extraordinary powers, magic spells and curses,” said the priest, who in 1986 was appointed the chief exorcist for the Diocese of Rome.
He obviously hasn’t spent much time reading in modern neurobiology, preferring to stay in a medieval world of angels and demons.
“Satan is always hidden and what he most wants is for us not to believe in his existence. He studies every one of us and our tendencies towards good and evil, and then he offers temptations.” Science was incapable of explaining evil, said Father Amorth, who has written two books on his experiences as an exorcist. “It’s not worth a jot. The scientist simply explores what God has already created.”
These beliefs are those of his boss.
His views may seem extreme, but in fact reflect previous warnings by Pope Benedict XVI, when as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger he was the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican’s enforcer of doctrinal orthodoxy.
In 1999, six years before he succeeded John Paul II as Pope, he issued a document which warned Roman Catholics of the dangers of yoga, Zen, transcendental meditation and other ‘eastern’ practises.
They could “degenerate into a cult of the body” that debases Christian prayer, the document said.
Yoga poses could create a feeling of well-being in the body but it was erroneous to confuse that with “the authentic consolations of the Holy Spirit,” the document said.
Yogic teachers claim that the practice of Yoga is a path to spirituality, but deny they are influenced by Satan, claiming that the idea is absurd. I can get behind that. Yoga is great exercise, but spiritual or Satanic? Can’t see it.
As Chief Exorcist, we would expect him to have some really really crazy ideas, and he doesn’t disappoint.
Father Amorth has previously said that people who are possessed by Satan vomit shards of glass and pieces of iron and have such superhuman strength that even children have to be held down by up to four people.
The fact that people die during exorcisms is a minor annoyance. Did you ever hear of an exorcist getting killed during an exorcism? Didn’t think so. It’s always the poor mentally ill who suffer.
Of course, when you can blame Satan, you don’t need to take any responsibility for yourself.
He has also claimed that the sex abuse scandals which have engulfed the Catholic Church in the US, Ireland, Germany and other countries was proof that the Anti-Christ is waging a war against the Holy See.
This is the insanity at the heart of religion.