Whenever someone claims that the Catholic Church is down with science because it accepts evolution, I remind them that:
1. The Church accepts theistic evolution, with human exceptionalism, so that humans are the unique species into whose lineage God inserted a soul. (And 23% of Catholics, defying their own faith in a more conservative direction, are young-earth creationists.)
2. The official doctrine of the Church is that Adam and Eve were the literal ancestors of all humanity. That, too, is wrong, and clearly does not comport with what science tells us.
3. The Church accepts the notion of Satan and Hell, which is about as retrograde a belief you can have in our modern world; and
4. The Church accepts demonic possession that can be reversed by exorcism. In fact, I believe the Vatican has its own official exorcist, and there are hundreds of trained priests operating as exorcists throughout the world.
In a piece in Saturday’s Washington Post, “A modern pope gets old school on the devil“, we learn that Pope Francis is a big booster of the demonic-possession hypothesis:
Largely under the radar, theologians and Vatican insiders say, Francis has not only dwelled far more on Satan in sermons and speeches than his recent predecessors have, but also sought to rekindle the Devil’s image as a supernatural entity with the forces of evil at his beck and call.
Last year, for instance, Francis laid handson a man in a wheelchair who claimed to be possessed by demons, in what many saw as an impromptu act of cleansing. A few months later, he praised a group long viewed by some as the crazy uncles of the Roman Catholic Church — the International Association of Exorcists — for “helping people who suffer and are in need of liberation.”
. . . “Pope Francis never stops talking about the Devil; it’s constant,” said one senior bishop in Vatican City who spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to speak freely. “Had Pope Benedict done this, the media would have clobbered him.”
Indeed; Francis is given a pass. When are those people who are so impressed by his “humility” going to learn that it’s just a facade, behind which lurks all the incense-scented malfeasance and superstition of Catholicism? And, far from reforming his church by nudging Catholics toward more enlightened sentiments, Pope Francis is keeping the Church mired in the Middle Ages, at least on the issues of Satan and demons:
By most accounts, the ranks of official exorcists number between 500 and 600 in a global church of more than 1 billion Catholics, with the vast majority operating in Latin America and Eastern Europe. This week, at the ninth and largest Vatican-sanctioned convention on exorcism, attendees gushed about the fresh recognition being afforded the field.
Almost 200 delegates — most of them priests and nuns — from more than two dozen nations talked about how Satanic cults are spreading like wildfire in the age of the Internet.
The new pope, exorcists say, has become their champion in the face of modern skeptics, many of them within the Catholic faith. Officially, those claiming to be possessed must first undergo psychiatric evaluations. But exorcists say that liberal Catholic bishops have often rejected their services even after such due diligence.
“The sad truth is that there are many bishops and priests in our church who do not really believe in the Devil,” said the Rev. Gabriele Amorth, the 89-year-old priest who is perhaps the closest thing the church has to a Hollywood-style exorcist. “I believe Pope Francis is speaking to them. Because when you don’t believe, the Devil wins.”
Yes, these people really do believe in Satan, and that itself is unbelievable! Where’s the evidence for Satan, much less God?
The reader who sent me this link, reader Matt, added a note to this effect:
“More Catholic craziness below. I clipped a quote from the article. Get a load of how one exorcist determines if a person is possessed. It’s amusing. But then you realize that people who really need psychological help sometimes get mixed up with these jackasses and it is sad and pathetic. And then to know that the Pope supports this nonsense is horrifying.”
Matt was referring to the following “clip” from the Post piece:
During the conference, the Rev. Cesar Truqui, an exorcist based in Switzerland, recounted one experience he had aboard a Swissair flight. “Two lesbians,” he said, had sat behind him on the plane. Soon afterward, he said, he felt Satan’s presence. As he silently sought to repel the evil spirit through prayer, one of the women, he said, began growling demonically and threw chocolates at his head.
Asked how he knew the woman was possessed, he said that “once you hear a Satanic growl, you never forget it. It’s like smelling Margherita pizza for the first time. It’s something you never forget.”
And Matt added:
“I’ll never think about Margherita pizza the same way. Now, how does Truqui know these women are lesbians? Does he believe lesbianism is consistent with demonic possession? And what growling demons attack by throwing chocolates? Booooorrrrring. No spitting vomit? No spinning heads? If this guy wants a career in exorcism he better get a better story.”
The article ends with the description of an exorcism by Amorth. Have a look if you want to truly apprehend the craziness of this faith. The only thing that’s missing is the vomiting of pea soup.
I’d love to ask Catholics who are scientists or science-friendly—like Kenneth Miller of Brown University or Peter Hess of the National Center for Science Education—what they think of the Catholic Church’s acceptance of demons and the historicity of Adam and Eve. I’m sure they’d say it is nonsense—if they had the courage to answer—but then how can they maintain, as they do, that there’s no conflict between science and Catholicism?