The Halo Halo! Column from the June 2015 issue of the Socialist Standard
We don’t know whether Satan employs a spin doctor, or has his own PR team to boost his image and keep himself in the public eye, or how many believers he actually has these days; but if he does, they haven’t been doing a very effective job for, well, the last couple of hundred years at least. Now though, his public image is taking a sharp upturn. The devil, apparently, is enjoying a sudden surge in notoriety, if not in popularity, and believe it or not, it’s all down to the Pope.
According to the Independent (14 April) a recent gathering of exorcists in Rome have concluded that Pope Francis has prompted a rise in the number of Catholics who believe themselves to be possessed by the devil. Most recent popes, it seems, were in the habit of treating Satan like an embarrassing and rather dodgy uncle who was never to be mentioned outside the family, and only in very hushed tones – a bit like a randy Catholic priest – only worse. Francis, however, has no such inhibitions about Old Nick and apparently keeps banging on about him in front of anyone who happens to be listening.
He recently informed a delegation from Mexico that the Mexican drug wars were due to the Devil’s influence. The conflict in the Middle East too, he announced was all down to Satan. And if visitors express surprise at his views he sternly warns them ‘Look out, because the Devil is present’.
And so much faith do Catholics have in their leader that the demand for more exorcists is sharply on the rise. The Rome diocese has doubled the number it provides, Milan has increased its number from five to twelve, and even in Britain, bishops who have previously not bothered to keep an exorcist on the books are now trying to fill the vacancies.
But maybe there’s some method in the Pope’s madness. They can’t afford to let the devil die out can they? What would happen to the church if suddenly there was no more Satan, and therefore no more sin for them to save us from? Not only do they need him, they should put him on the payroll. As Satan’s own website www.churchofsatan.com says ‘Satan has been the best friend the Church has ever had, as he has kept it in business all these years!’(Nine Satanic Statements).
When we last visited Satan’s website (see Halo Halo January 2012), to be frank he did seem a little bit mad; liable to attract entirely the wrong type. Now, although there is no mention of this new understanding he has with the Catholics, he does seem a bit more restrained in his aims and claims. (Although he does still advise ‘When walking in open territory, bother no one. If someone bothers you, ask him to stop. If he does not stop, destroy him’ (Eleven Satanic Rules of the Earth). That one seems a bit harsh, even from Satan.
And unlike the Catholic Church, he does seem to be trying to get out of the 17th century. The old membership application form with questions such as – ‘Are you satisfied with your sex life?’ – ‘How many years would you like to live?’ – ‘Do you feel oppressed or persecuted in any way?’ has gone, and is replaced by a simple requirement for applicants to send a cheque for $200. The Pope would be proud of him.