Friday, February 18, 2005

I know we on the left are supposed to be getting all faith-based and stuff, wiping the secular-humanist smirks off our faces and confronting the notion that some people are evil, just evil, but, er ... what century is this?

Priests Sign Up for Exorcism 101

Faced with a shortage of skilled clerics, Vatican is offering a course on demonic possession.

...on Thursday about 100 priests stood, prayed for protection, then sat down to begin an eight-week study of how to distinguish and fight demonic possession.

The course at Rome's prestigious Regina Apostolorum Pontifical Athenaeum, represents the first time a Vatican-sanctioned course in exorcism is being offered at this level.

In Italy, the number of official exorcists has soared during the last 20 years to between 300 and 400, church officials say. But they aren't enough to handle the avalanche of requests for help from hundreds of tormented people who believe they are possessed. In the United States, the shortage is even more acute....

--L.A. Times

So what profound evils will these newly trained exorcists confront? Genocide? Terrorism? Murder? Rape? Drug addiction?

...Father Christopher Barak traveled from his headquarters in Lincoln, Neb., to Rome to attend the course. Priests in Nebraska have recently heard troubling accounts from parishioners, including unexplained noises in homes and sightings of ghostlike figures, he said....

"There are a lot more behaviors and lifestyles that are not of God," he said. "There's a lot of relativism. Whatever goes, goes. There's a big surge in New Age, pantheism, young people playing with Satanism, a lot of drug use, black magic, psychics are so big, pornography, MTV…. People are not searching for holiness."

Barak is planning to stay for the entire course, which ends in mid-April, and said he hoped to take a new understanding and a new battle plan back to Nebraska.

Great -- this priest thinks Evil Incarnate inheres in creaky houses and kids watching Road Rules reruns on MTV.


And in other religion news, if you've ever suspected that God is a Republican, now your suspicions are confirmed -- by God Himself!

TV preacher Pat Robertson last month revealed his annual in-depth conversation with God and brought back good news for George W. Bush: 2005 looks like it's going to be the president's year....

After spending "a wonderful time of prayer," the Christian Coalition founder said, "The Lord had some very encouraging news for George Bush. What I heard [from God] was that Bush is now positioned to have victory after victory and that his second term is going to be one of triumph, which is pretty strong stuff."

According to Robertson, God even went into specifics. God reportedly said Bush will "also have Social Security reform passed, that he'll have tax reform passed, that he'll have conservative judges on the courts and that basically he is positioned for a series of dramatic victories...

"The vendetta against religion in America is about to end," Robertson said God told him. In what Robertson portrayed as a direct quote, God reportedly said, "I will remove judges from the Supreme Court quickly and their successors will refuse to sanction the attacks on religious faith."...

Then again, it's possible that Robertson is just being punked by God. It's happened before:

... On Jan. 1, 1980, Robertson reported that God had told him that the Soviet Union would in that year invade several Middle Eastern nations, seize the world's oil reserves and throw the United States and Western Europe into economic chaos, sparking worldwide conflict....

During his 2004 talk with God, the Almighty assured him that Bush would win reelection easily. Robertson reported that the race would be a "blowout." In fact, Bush won narrowly by less than 3 percent.

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