Pagans lash out at Church over exorcism blame

The Catholic Church has been blasted by Pagans who reject that the increase in exorcisms is due to people "dabbling" in paganism.

The Courier Mail reports that one priest, who asked not be named, said he was carrying out at least one exorcism a fortnight.

"There has been a recruitment of pagan practices, and it's sheer poison," the priest says.

The priest said the demand for exorcism has increased across Queensland with requests coming from the Gold Coast more than anywhere else.

The Catholic Church has vowed to "fight the devil head-on" by training hundreds of priests as exorcists. Bishop Brian Finnigan, acting head of the Catholic Archdiocese of Brisbane, said it was important for the Church to carry out exorcisms.

"People need to be freed of that burden," he said.

Father Gabriele Amorth, 82, the Pope's Exorcist-in-Chief, announced the initiative. Under plans being considered, each bishop would have a group of priests in his diocese who were specially trained in exorcism.

However, the priest's claim has provoked an angry reponse from the Pagan Awareness Network (PAN), an association representing wiccans, pagans, and other followers of nature-based faiths.

"A pagan ritual is no more dangerous than going to a church, a temple, or a mosque," PAN president David Garland said.

"The Catholic Church is once again trying to create a moral panic about devil-worship and the occult. This kind of fear-mongering belongs in the Middle Ages, not in the 21st century.

"Exorcisms endanger lives and physical safety. Anyone worried that they might be possessed by spirits should seek referral to a psychiatrist or other mental health expert, not a witch-doctor in a priest's collar.

"The Catholic Church should ban this barbaric practice."

Exorcisms `more dangerous than Pagan beliefs' (Courier Mail 18/02/08)


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