Italian priest warns against Halloween

An Italian priest well known for his campaigns against prostitution has warned that Halloween is "the most magic day in the year" for Satanists who use it to perform black masses and encourage witchcraft.

Italian agency ANSA reports that according to Fr Oreste Benzi, head of the Pope John XXII community, Halloween "has been imposed by an esoteric-satanic culture which induces the community to perform rituals of witchcraft, spiritualism and satanism which can even lead to ritual sacrifices and violence".

"For satanists, Halloween is the most magic day in the year and during this night they perform black masses, esoteric-magical ceremonies and encourage witchcraft," he added.

"Christian parents and all those who believe in the values of life should know that Halloween is the adoration of Satan which has been disguised through games and parties for young people," he warned.

"On 31 October, satanic rites are performed in deconsecrated churches and in many cemeteries. Communion wafers are stolen and places of our Christian tradition are violated," the priest continued.

"I ask that the Catholic world in no way promotes or encourages this celebration of the macabre and horror. We at the Pope John XXIII community have been working for years to free the victims of occult sects," Fr Benzi said.

Halloween is especially dangerous for young people because it "encourages an esoteric-magical mentality which seeks to subvert religion by attacking spiritual values and what is sacred through an initiation of occult arts and images," Fr Benzi concluded.

The popularity of Halloween has soared in recent years, to rival Italy's traditional fun-loving post-winter Carnival, and now generates an estimated 250 million euros in business.

Although Halloween is considered an American import, there is a small town in the southeastern region of Puglia, Orsara di Puglia, which has been celebrating Halloween for the past 1,000 years except that the pumpkins come out on the evening of 1-2 November instead of 31 October.

Meanwhile, UCA News reports that the Archdiocese of Capiz in central Philippines also mobilised against the local Aswang or witch festival this week.

Vicente Hilata, Vicar General of Capiz archdiocese, which covers all of Capiz province on Panay Island, denounced the annual festival held last weekend in a three-page pastoral letter read at all Masses in the archdiocese.

"We believe in the power of prayer. Through prayer, we express once again our strong opposition to the Aswang Festival, in a peaceful but sincere manner for the transformation of hearts," the Monsignor wrote.

"The organisers and our people have their reasons for holding the festival, and we have to respect that, but we have to make a stand as a Church," Mgr Hilata added.

According to festival organisers, the event began in 2004 to promote tourism in the province and has accomplished that goal. Company president Cheryl Ann Lastimoso said they initiated the festival also to counter the unfair stereotyping of the province as a haven of witches by poking fun at the tradition.

Lastimoso told UCA News that while they respect the views of the archbishop and the strong Church protest, the festival would go on as planned.

Priest blasts Halloween as Satanic (ANSA, 30/10/06)
Church Leaders Take Stance Against 'Festival Of Witches' (UCA News, 30/10/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Halloween (Wikipedia)
Priest Has a Plan to Fight Prostitution Networks in Europe (Zenit, 19/2/01)
Sex Slaves: Trafficking in human beings from Moldova to Italy (British Helsinki Human Rights Group
Surprise: Halloween's Not a Pagan Festival After All(Beliefnet)

Vatican Calls for Pastoral Reflection on "Women of the Street" (CathNews, 17/6/05)
Pope greets former prostitutes (CathNews, 26/5/00)

31 Oct 2006