by Deacon Nick Donnelly
A friend recently went through statements published by the Irish Bishops’ Conference between 2012 and 2015 to examine the language the bishops used about morality, especially in response to the initiatives of the Enda Kenny government. During this period the Irish government legalised both the killing of unborn babies through abortion and the treatment of homosexuality as equivalent with heterosexuality through so called same-sex "marriage". The statements from the Bishops’ Conference show the Irish bishops failing to name the evil of abortion and homosexual sex even though the Second Vatican Council named abortion an “unspeakable crime” (Gaudium et Spes, 50) and the Catechism of the Catholic Church names homosexual acts as acts of “grave depravity” (CCC, 2357).
Between 2012 and 2015 the Irish bishops issued tens of thousands of words on a variety of issues, but only mentioned the word “sin” once in 2014, in the context of Friday observances during Lent. Statements from the Irish bishops make no reference to the “devil”, “Satan” or “Prince of this World”. The Irish bishops did refer to the “forces of evil” in their autumn statement in 2014 but only in the context of the persecution of Christians in the Middle East, quoting from a prayer composed by Pope Francis.
The Importance of Naming the Devil
Fr Gabriele Amroth, the chief exorcist of the Diocese of Rome, explains that the first task of the exorcist is to adjure the devil to give its name, or if there are more than one, for the devils to give their names:
“Demons are wary of talking and must be forced to speak. When demons are voluntarily chatty it's a trick to distract the exorcist. We must never ask useless questions out of curiosity… but must interrogate with care. We always begin by asking for the demon's name… If it is the Devil himself, he says 'I am Satan, or Lucifer, or Beelzebub. We ask if he is alone or if there are others with him. Usually there are two or five, 20 or 30. We must quantify the number. We ask when and how they entered that particular body.”
This practice of demanding to know the devil’s name goes back to the divine practice of Our Lord, found in the gospel accounts of His exorcism of the Gerasene demoniac:
“For he had said to him, ‘Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!’ And Jesus asked him, ’What is your name?’ He replied, ‘My name is Legion; for we are many.’” (Mark 5:8-9).
The conclusion I draw from this, is that if it is necessary for a priest to know the name of the devil during an exorcism in order to liberate the possessed from the power of demons, the minimum required of bishops and priests, and laity, when responding to so many evils in society is that we speak openly of the presence and work of the devil. How can bishops and priests stop the devils raging through a society if they haven’t the courage or conviction to even speak about the devil?
So, why are many bishops and priests so reticent to speak of the devil? I think the problem is that they have bought into the modern, materialist delusion that angels and demons don’t exist, mistakenly judging them to be ancient beliefs that can be consigned to the past. Such a rejection of the existence of angels and demons has no place in the Catholic Church. Pope Francis has repeatedly challenged those Christians who deny the existence of Satan and the fallen angels:
“But in this generation, like so many others, people have been led to believe that the devil is a myth, a figure, an idea, the idea of evil. But the devil exists and we must fight against him. Paul tells us this, it’s not me saying it! The Word of God is telling us this.”
Pope Francis speaks so often about the devil because he can see the secularist taboo about Satan creeping into the Church, making bishops and priests mute before the forces of evil. The Church’s long experience of exorcism tells us that Satan and the fallen angels don’t want us to name them, because they prefer to work behind the scenes in the dark. A culture that makes talking about the devil a social taboo is the perfect environment for demons to go about their work of tempting us into sins of commission and sins of omission.
The Demons in Ireland and Great Britain
It is a fundamental rule of the Catholic Church that only priests authorised by their bishops can conduct the rite of exorcism. It is important that all the faithful observe this principle of spiritual health and safety. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued a Letter to Ordinaries regarding Norms on Exorcism in 1985 re-iterating the Church’s rules regarding exorcism because lay groups were conducting services of deliverance which sometimes bordered on the rites of exorcism. Cardinal Ratzinger emphasised that such prayer groups must not question demons or seek to know their identities.
The following speculative reflections do not derive from such deliverance prayer groups, but are based on comparing the known characteristics of certain demons with the types of evils plaguing our countries.
Belial – the Demon of Impurity and Perversity
There are so many examples in both the UK and Ireland of the ‘normalisation’ of impurity and perversity as socially acceptable that it is difficult to know where to begin to list them. The recent ‘yes’ vote for the legalisation of so called same sex marriage in Ireland and the embedding of acceptance of homosexuality in all areas of UK society, sometimes through the coercive use of the law, shows the institutionalisation of impurity and perversity. However, impurity and perversity is not exclusive to active homosexuals. For example, just recently I was shocked to learn that there are apps that facilitate couples committing adultery against their husbands or wives.
But even more scandalous is the extent of impurity and perversity within the Catholic Church exposed by the crimes of child sex abuse by clergy, the presence of active homosexuals among our priests and the scandal of priests with mistresses. Only last year an English bishop had to resign because his adultery with a woman parishioner was exposed in the press. Pope Benedict XVI often referred to impurity and perversity among Catholics, especially priests, as “filth” that stains the Body of Christ. In his last interview with Peter Seewald Pope Benedict XVI decried the effect of impurity and perversity on the entire Church:
“Yes, it is a great crisis, we have to say that. It was upsetting for all of us. Suddenly so much filth. It was really almost like the crater of a volcano, out of which suddenly a tremendous cloud of filth came, darkening and soiling everything, so that above all the priesthood suddenly seemed to be a place of shame and every priest was under the suspicion of being one like that too.” (Light of the World, p. 23).
The almost ubiquitous promotion and acceptance of impurity and perversity in our society suggests that the devil Belial is very active. The demon Belial is referred to in St Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians:
“For what partnership have righteousness and iniquity? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?
What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God”. (II Cor 6: 14-16).
According to Catholic references the name Belial comes from the Hebrew for ‘wickedness’ and ‘extreme wickedness’. The English Poet John Milton refers to Belial in his epic poem Paradise Lost:
“BELIAL came last, than whom a Spirit more lewd Fell not from Heaven, or more gross to love Vice for itself: To him no Temple stood Or Altar smoak'd; yet who more oft then hee In Temples and at Altars, when the Priest Turns Atheist, as did ELY'S Sons, who fill'd With lust and violence the house of God.”
Moloch – the Demon of Abortion and Infanticide
Until 2013 Ireland was a sanctuary for the lives of unborn babies that shone out against the culture of death that dominates the rest of the European Union and most of the world. Since the 1970’s more than 1.7 billion babies have been killed worldwide through medical abortion, not including the babies killed through abortifacient contraception and IVF. Since 1967 8.2 million babies have been killed in the UK.
The ruling elites of the European Union and the United Nations could not tolerate Ireland holding out against the legalisation of the murder of the unborn. The Taoiseach Enda Kenny was not the husband, father or Catholic to resist the pressure put on Ireland to join the worldwide pact to kill unborn babies. In 1969 the US President Dwight Eisenhower coined the phrase the “Industrial – military complex” to warn about the power of the arms industry and military through a network of policy and financial relationships that exist between politicians, military and the arms industry. The juggernaut that has just crushed the pro-life constitution of Ireland shows the power of the abortion industry – political complex.
The power and influence of the Abortion Industry – Political complex is so great, and unquestioned by politicians, the judiciary and the media, to suggest the influence of the demon Moloch – the demon of Abortion and Infanticide. Moloch was worshipped by parents burning their children as an offering, and was particularly popular in Israel and Judah under apostate kings.
“For the sons of Judah have done evil in my sight, says the Lord; they have set their abominations in the house which is called by my name, to defile it. 31 And they have built the high place[a] of Topheth, which is in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire.” (Jeremiah 7:30-31).
The English Poet John Milton also refers to Moloch in his epic poem Paradise Lost:
"First MOLOCH, horrid King besmear'd with blood Of human sacrifice, and parents tears, Though, for the noyse of Drums and Timbrels loud, Their children's cries unheard that passed through fire To his grim Idol.”
The Power of the Name of Our Lord Jesus Christ
It is through the power of the name of Our Lord Jesus that the Church frees people oppressed, and possessed by Satan and the demons, “There is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4: 12):
“When the Church asks publicly and authoritatively in the name of Jesus Christ that a person or object be protected against the power of the Evil One and withdrawn from his dominion, it is called exorcism. Jesus performed exorcisms and from him the Church has received the power and office of exorcizing”. (CCC 1673).
Though only priests authorised by their bishops can use the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ to deliver a person from the devil through exorcism we can all recite the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ with honour and reverence as a prayer of protection against Satan and the fallen angels. In particular I recommend praying the Litany of the Holy Name of Jesus and the Litany of the Most Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ. With the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ on our lips, in our thoughts and in our hearts no demon will be able to withstand the power of His Most Holy Church.