By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
The last month has seen a number of news stories about occult rituals being linked to the torture and murder of women and children.
The most recent story comes from the Associated Press about a couple in Karachi, Pakistan who have just been arrested for stabbing their three month-old baby to death in a black magic ritual. According to police, a witchdoctor told the couple that killing the child would make them rich.
Just before Christmas, the world was horrified by the account of a two year-old Brazilian boy whose body was pierced with more than 42 sewing needles by his stepfather in a bizarre occult ritual. Thirty year-old Roberto Carlos Magalhaes confessed to putting the needles into the boy’s body and said he was helped by two women, one of whom was known to be a practitioner of an African-Brazilian form of voodoo known as Candomble.
According to Roberto, the practitioner would enter a trance, then “command him to stick needles in the boy’s body.”
It is believed that the other woman, Angelina Ribeiro dos Santos, with whom Roberto was romantically involved, wanted him to live with her and leave the boy’s mother. It was dos Santos who paid to have the two-inch needles blessed by the practitioner.
The child is in stable condition after doctors performed emergency surgery to remove several needles near his heart that were considered to be life threatening.
Even more horrifying is a report by the BBC of an alarming increase in human sacrifice associated with the practice of witchcraft in Uganda where witchdoctors say at least 70 people, mostly children, have been killed in order to use their heart and blood in rituals.
“They go and capture other people’s children,” one former witchdoctor said. “They bring the heart and the blood directly here to take to the spirits. They bring them in small tins and they place these objects under the tree from which the voices of the spirits are coming.”
According to law enforcement officials, the crime is directly related to an increasing belief that witchcraft can help people get rich quickly.
The crime is definitely on the rise in Uganda where law enforcement officials reported 26 murders thought to be part of ritual sacrifice last year compared with only three cases in 2007. There are also 120 children and adults missing who may also be victims of human sacrifice.
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1. What does the Catechism say about the use of sorcery? (See No. 2117 available here: http://www.vatican.va/archive/catechism/p3s2c1a1.htm)
2. How does sorcery violate the first commandment by being a sin of superstition and/or idolatry? (See Nos. 2111 – 2113)
3. Read the following Biblical exhortations against sorcery and those who practice it: Deuteronomy 18: 9-14; Galations 5: 19-21; Revelation 21:8 and 22:15
4. The Bible contains the story of many famous punishments that came upon those who relied upon, or practiced, sorcery. King Saul’s decision to consult the witch of Endor ended in disaster (See 1 Samuel 28: 3-25) and caused Elymas the magician to go blind (See Acts 13: 8-12)
5. New Age practices involve sorcery, superstition and idolatry because they rely on false gods such as a “universal life force” used in Reiki and other forms of energy medicine, or call upon special powers such as in the use of magic and a variety of divination methods (tarot, ouija board, psychics, astrology, etc.). Have you been involved in any of these practices? Have you renounced this involvement through sacramental confession?