Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Exorcism and Satanism in Italy

Some mixed signals at work in an article from the international edition of Newsweek. On the one hand, the article makes the Catholic Church look bad with an account of its continuing defense of the practice of exorcism in the face of scandals and the real story behind the film The Exorcism of Emily Rose. The tale concerned a young German epileptic:
Somehow, though, her parents convinced themselves that Satan had gotten hold of her soul. They called two local priests, who spent 10 months trying to exorcise the young woman's demons. To avoid interfering with the exorcism, the parents even halted her treatment for epilepsy. Michel finally died, in 1975, at the age of 23, withered and weakened to just 31 kilos from being denied food and water during the exorcism.
Several more recent cases of priests accidentally killing exorcism subjects are also included. Yet the article also contains this startling (and unattributed) statistic: "Interest in satanic worship has risen sharply across Europe recently; there are 5,000 Italians involved in 650 active satanic cults in operation in the country, more than double the number a decade ago." Does this mean Italian satanists are registering with the government? Presumably they are not the baby-killing type of satanists. This was a very strange passing remark to make, and one that makes me even more curious about Italy than I was already.