By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
The latest movie in the Harry Potter series opened this weekend and sparked a new rash of warnings about how Potter and other occult fiction films and books encourage children to dabble in the occult.
In an interview with CNA/EWTN News, Bishop Thomas Paprocki of the Diocese of Springfield, Illinois said that occult-oriented books and movies which are aimed at children, such as Potter and the vampire series known as Twilight, have encouraged interest in the occult among children.
“We have to be careful with those kinds of topics for young people,” he said. Even though the series’ may be works of fantasy, “we have to be careful though as children are very impressionable – do they start seeing truths in those stories and do they start believing in them?”
However, the underlying reason why children get drawn into the occult is not just the books and movies, but the gradual moving away from organized religion in our culture, he said.
“I think a more general hazard in our culture is the fact that people are not attached to organized religion as much as they used to be. In fact, the word religion comes from a Latin word which means to be bound together.”
Because “religion binds us together in faith and to Jesus Christ,” when people start moving away from organized religion and churches they may start “dabbling in their own spirituality,” he said. “Part of that hazard then is dabbling in the occult and may fall into something truly diabolical such as Satanic rituals.”
Bishop Paprocki’s comments mirror those made by famed exorcist, Fr. Thomas Euteneuer, in a July interview with Deal Hudson of Inside Catholic.
Speaking about his new book, Exorcism and the Church Militant, Fr. Euteneuer said one of the reasons he wrote it was to warn parents who allow their children to be desensitized to “the dark world” by books and films like Potter and Twilight. He said possession almost always comes about as a result of someone dabbling in occult practices such as witchcraft, Wicca, tarot cards, and Ouiji boards.
“Harry Potter and these Twilight vampires glamorize the power of evil,” Father Eutenener said, “and this has lead to many, many cases of possession among young people.” It may begin with a child or teenager simply “playing around” with the occult, but that seemingly harmless act is “opening a window” to possession.
Father Euteneuer emphasized this point: “Demons do not discriminate between intentions – no matter how innocent – and children lose the clear distinction between good and evil.”
The devil plays by the rules, he said, which means they cannot operate without permission from human beings. Once they get that permission, which children unwittingly give when they embrace the magick of Potter and begin to “play” with spell weaving and other occult “games”, demons are then free to work their dark wiles on an individual. These wiles include oppression and even full possession depending on how far the devil draws the person into the occult.
Renewed interest in the occult, coupled with an increasingly secular and atheistic culture, are just some of the reasons why the U.S. bishops held a special two-day conference on exorcism during their recent annual meeting in Baltimore. The conference was attended by more than 100 priests and bishops.
Bishop Paprocki, who attended the conference, told CNA/EWTN that people being distant from organized religion may be the reason for an increase in the number of inquiries about exorcisms.
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