Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Pope Warned of Sexy Vampires

Pope Francis has gotten some good press for being a relatively progressive pope, or at least more progressive than his reactionary predecessor. His statements on poverty and injustice are quite welcome as a foil to the "Green Gospel" preached by many American evangelicals, even if his positions on other issues such as sexuality have barely budged compared to those of previous popes.

One oddity about the allegedly progressive Francis is that he has offered more support than his predecessors to the practice of exorcism. As a magician I believe that magical and spiritual attacks can be real and that they can be resolved by ritual means, but the problem is that many of the church's exorcists seem trapped in some sort of backwards urban fantasy universe. And naturally, said universe is teeming with sexy vampires.

“There are those who try to turn people into vampires and make them drink other people’s blood, or encourage them to have special sexual relations to obtain special powers,” said Professor Giuseppe Ferrari, head of The Group on Research and Socio-Religious Information, an Italian occult watchdog, at a conference in Rome last week. “These groups are attracted by the so-called beautiful young vampires that we’ve seen so much of in recent years.”

Ferrari is not some fringe exorcist (ha ha) — he is actually backed by the Vatican and the Pope himself, who has insisted that dioceses have one trained exorcist on campus to deal with any urgent possessions. Father Cesare Truqui, a Swiss exorcist and protégé of Father Gabriele Amorth (the Vatican’s longtime chief exorcist) who also spoke at the conference, told The Independent that exorcism training is super important but overlooked: “It’s like training to be a journalist without knowing how to do an interview.” Amorth’s main concerns were sex abuse scandals, the fantasy genre and yoga.

Is it just me, or is one of those things not like the others? Yoga is harmless. The fantasy genre is harmless. And the recent sex abuse scandals that have rocked the church are an abject nightmare, especially for the victims. It seems to me that Amorth would do a lot better to quit wasting time hating on stretching and elves, and instead devote his efforts towards resolving this infinitely more serious problem.

But I suppose in the end what's really going on is public relations. I doubt that anyone thinks yoga or fantasy novels are on par with child molestation, even among deluded exorcists who dream of being Buffy or something. I think it's probably an attempt to draw attention away from the latter. If the media is focused on how dumb it is that the church hates yoga, that's less time they're spending on abuse victims.

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