Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
October 19, 2009
Bishops ask for action against belief in witchcraft
CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE
VATICAN CITY - Two bishops from Nigeria asked the Synod of Bishops for Africa to make a clear commitment to educating Catholics about the fact that, while the devil exists, witchcraft does not.
"Suspected witches are abandoned, isolated, discriminated (against) and ostracized from the community," Bishop Augustine Akubeze of Uromi told the synod Oct. 12.
"Sometimes they are taken to the forest and slaughtered or disgraced publicly and murdered."
Witches do not exist and so the accusations are always false, Akubeze said. Even worse, people have been known to accuse someone of being a witch just to settle personal squabbles.
Akubeze said that while witchcraft "lacks any justification in reason, science and common sense," people continue to believe in it.
He called on the synod to make clear the Church's teaching that God is all-powerful and that he sent his Son to save all people from evil.
Bishop Joseph Ekuwem of Uyo, Nigeria, said that across the continent people believe that "witchcraft is an evil force capable of inflicting both spiritual and physical harm on a person."
The superstitions about witchcraft are so pronounced that people see witches as having more power than God, he said.
He urged development of simple versions of the Church's teaching about evil and Jesus' victory over it to be developed for the faithful.
The Church should also develop a new rite of exorcism and appoint an exorcist in each diocese, Ekuwem said.
In 1999 the Vatican published a new Rite of Exorcisms. The 1999 rules reflect the Church's recognition that many symptoms previously associated with possession can now be explained by medical science.
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