The Halo Halo! column from the January 2012 issue of the Socialist Standard
Right! That's Christmas over and done with. We’ve had enough mince pies, mistletoe and baby Jesus to keep us going till next December when the whole bloody farce kicks off again. It’s pantomime season now, so let’s take a look at one of religion’s other comic characters.
Every good pantomime has its villain, and the Catholic Church is no exception. This baddie doesn’t usually get a look in over Christmas, but recently he’s been back in the news. It’s our old friend Satan.
If you’ve been possessed by the devil recently, Father Gabriele Amorth is the man you need. He’s been the Vatican’s chief exorcist for 25 years and claims to have carried out 70,000 exorcisms. (And in case you haven’t got a calculator handy, that’s 2,800 a year or 7.67 exorcisms per day, seven days a week). And some people say the clergy don’t earn their money.
Father Amorth hit the headlines back in March 2010 when he informed the Telegraph online that people possessed by Satan vomit shards of glass and pieces of iron. And the Catholic sex abuse scandals happened, he said, because Satan had managed to get a foot in the door at the Vatican. “The Devil resides in the Vatican and you can see the consequences”. “He can remain hidden, or speak in different languages.” “At times he makes fun of me. But I’m a man who is happy in his work.”
Nevertheless, he reported, there were now “cardinals who do not believe in Jesus and bishops who are linked to the demon”. Fortunately, he reassured us, “His Holiness believes wholeheartedly in the practice of exorcism”.
In November the Telegraph again reported Father Amorth’s concerns. “Practicing yoga is Satanic, it leads to evil just like reading Harry Potter,” we were told. Science, he said, was incapable of explaining evil. “It’s not worth a jot.” Even children who are possessed gain superhuman strength, he explained, and have to be held down by up to four people. Perhaps this is not the best example he could have given. The image of a child being held down by four sweaty priests won’t do much to help his case.
What Satan makes of all this, goodness only knows, but he’s probably not too concerned. There’s no way they’re going to get rid of him. Think of all those priests, rabbis, mullahs, etc it would throw out of work.
In fact, Satan has his own church now, and a website. See www.churchofsatan.com. “Our members span an amazing political spectrum,” the blurb informs us. They include “Libertarians, Liberals, Conservatives, Republicans, Democrats, Reform Party members, Independents, Capitalists, Socialists, Communists, Stalinists, Leninists, Trotskyites, Maoists, Zionists, Monarchists, Fascists, Anarchists and just about anything else you could possibly imagine”.
Hmm, not sure about the “socialists” or “communists”. Other than that, though, they sound a right bundle of fun. Questions on their membership application include:
- Are you satisfied with your sex life?
- How many years would you like to live?
- Do you feel oppressed or persecuted in any way?
No wonder the Catholic Church’s chief exorcist is confused.