Vatican: 10% of people are possessed by the devil
Cranmer can’t help wondering where they all reside and where they work, though the Vatican gives a clue insofar as it specifies ‘exposure’ to ‘the media, rock music and the Internet’. As is well known, both Hitler and Stalin were into all three. Apparently, three signs that experts look out for in identifying those who are possessed are ‘an ability to speak languages that the possessed person does not know, the presence of superhuman strength, and an awareness of hidden or distant objects’.
But according to Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi: ‘Pope Benedict XVI has no intention of ordering local bishops to bring in garrisons of exorcists to fight demonic possession.’ Cranmer thinks this to be a very great pity, for the world certainly needs them. However, His Holiness is ‘drawing up plans to install a given number of exorcists in every diocese in the coming months so that “possessed” people could get prompt treatment.
Jolly good, that. Prompt treatment ensures a higher chance of survival.
And apparently His Holiness is also reintroducing a prayer to be said at the end of Mass to ‘St Mark the Archangel’, believed to be ‘the prime protector against evil’.
Curious, that, given that there is not one reference in Scripture that may give rise to such a belief, and its origin in Church tradition is also something of a mystery to Cranmer. But in any case, would not ‘the prime protector’ against evil be the Lord himself? Did Jesus appeal to 'Archangel Mark' when dealing with Legion? How can a mere archangel, a servant of the Lord, be the ‘prime’ anything?
The Vatican has its very own Professor Snape in the guise of Father Paolo Scarafoni, whose job it is to instruct students ‘in the art of recognising and expelling Satan’. Indeed, eager to spread awareness about the rising threat of Satanism, Rome's Regina Apostolorum University has opened the course up to anyone with a proven interest in fighting devil worship. Although there is no indication of the entrance requirements, present students include ‘doctors, psychiatrists, lawyers and youth workers’. One of the objectives of the course is ‘to stop such a delicate and difficult subject being viewed in a sensationalist way’.
Since when was possession by Satan not sensational? Who would want to downplay this manifest and present danger, and why?
And Cranmer can’t help thinking what the media would have made of this revelation if it had emanated from Lambeth Palace. The scorn and derision that would have been poured upon the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Church of England would have been unrelenting, with doubtless Government ministers and Opposition spokesmen dismissing the pronouncement as ‘insensitive’ and ‘lacking any foundation in reality’. But the Vatican remains immune from such media onslaught, comfortably and uncritically perpetuating a bygone era of magic. And the Church of England, having endured both Reformation and Enlightenment, has learnt to take responsibility for its actions. Instead of apportioning blame on a poor innocent Devil, it can distinguish between magical thinking and murderous behaviour, and is content to assert that both Hitler and Stalin were psychopaths and murderous criminals.
According to Scripture, Satan appears as an angel of light (2Cor 11:14).. There is nothing about unlearned languages, superhuman strength, or detecting hidden objects. It is the plainest teaching of the New Testament that Satan masquerades as one who is pure, holy, benevolent, enlightened...