There are people who have commented that Father Gabriele Armoth, the exorcist for the Diocese of Rome, is off his rocker. He stated that it takes very little for one to go from Harry Potter to the worship or service of the devil because the books contain "the signature of the Prince of Darkness."
I, for one, am not willing to dismiss these comments out of hand. Yes, sometimes being an expert in a field makes one find that field in everything one sees. However, I don't think that can be said for a man of Father Armoth's stature.
Read for yourself the two stories below and see what you make of it. Notice the hightlighted part of the second story. Doubtless, someone will say that Wicca and Satan worship are two different things. Sorry, but anyone who worships and serves the creature rather than the Creator is, when all is said and done, worshiping and serving God's ultimate enemy.
Harry Potter then Devil: Vatican
From correspondents in The Vatican
March 02, 2006
THE Vatican's chief exorcist yesterday claimed the Harry Potter stories could lead children into Satanism.
Father Gabriele Amorth said: "You start off with Harry Potter, who comes across as a likeable wizard, but you end up with the Devil.
"There is no doubt that the signature of the Prince of Darkness is clearly within these books."
Father Amorth, 80, who has carried out more than 3000 exorcisms since 1986, said: "By reading Harry Potter, a young child will be drawn into magic and from there it is a simple step to Satanism and the Devil."
The series of books, whose popularity with children has made millions for author JK Rowling, has already been criticised by Pope Benedict XVI.
Three years ago, before becoming Pope, he said the character was a bad influence because the stories contained "seductions which act unnoticed and by this deeply distort Christianity in the soul, before it can grow properly".
From the Battle Creek (Mich.) Enquirer
Man became Wiccan after leaving Episcopal church
Name: Wayne Haney, 41.
Residence: "I was raised in Plainwell and graduated from Olivet College in 1987, with degrees in music education and French. I now live in Lapeer."
Family: Wife, Ellen; two children, 13 and 11.
Profession: High school history teacher.
Raised in: "I was not raised in any church, but began attending and eventually joined St. Stephen's Episcopal Church in Plainwell in my senior year in high school. I later joined St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Battle Creek while I was a student at Olivet College. Then I went to seminary at Virginia Theological Seminary to become an Episcopal priest and served for almost five years in New Hampshire and Michigan."
Now a member of: "I now serve as the minister of the Sacred Birch Society, a legally incorporated Wiccan group of nearly 40 men, women and children in the Lapeer area. I say 'minister' because that is a term people can relate to, but any Wiccan is his or her own priest. I am often the group's 'ritual leader' — maybe that's a better name for my role. I have had several teachers and have been ordained by the people of Sacred Birch. As a result, I can legally marry people and conduct funerals. And I can get into hospitals more easily to visit the sick."
Q: Have you performed any marriages yet? "Yes, two couples. One wedding took place in a woods, and the other was in the Long Way Planetarium in Flint."
Q: How long have you been a part of Wicca? "I left the Episcopal priesthood in 1997. My sense is that the strain of leading a Christian flock while not fully being able to believe the message I was preaching finally dropped me into what might be called a very early mid-life crisis. I went through a couple of years of therapy and soul-searching — one of those times when a person really asks what she/he is about, what she/he believes, what life holds. I had always been interested in spiritualities of most any kind.
"During that time I read the Harry Potter books along with my children. My curiosity about the world of Harry Potter led me to do an Internet search on magic, which led me to Wicca. Online, I became acquainted with people from a Wiccan group in Flint. Eventually my wife and I went there and immediately felt we had finally found our spiritual home."
Q: In what ways do you prefer to express your faith? "We celebrate eight major feasts (called Sabbats), which are based on the natural cycles of the solar year (the seasons). Sacred Birch celebrates those as a group. Wiccans also celebrate the lunar cycles and especially the full moons.
"But we are also active in the local community. We volunteer for the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life, we support a local domestic violence shelter and we have adopted a nearby section of the Michigan forest for patrolling and cleanup. We also make up what we call 'ritual kits' for soldiers. Wicca is now listed as one of the religions of people in the armed services.
"The impulse for us to do such things comes from our abiding sense of thanksgiving for all we have been given, not from a sense of spiritual duty as part of a life that leads to heavenly rewards."
Q: What are your sources of inspiration, your role models? "We draw on many sources. For storytelling, we got back to Greek and Roman and Egyptian mythology, as well as ancient Chinese, Hindu, Buddhist, Norse, Irish, Scottish and other traditions.
"Most Wiccans do not shun technology or attempt to leave society. Quite the opposite — we are very much part of the world and of our communities, quietly living our lives and practicing our religion. We strive to model our lives on the lessons of nature herself."
Q: How open are you about your newfound spirituality? "I am not a closeted Wiccan, but like most Wiccans, I don't make it a point to advertise my spirituality or attempt to proselytize. Our main goal is to simply be a resource for others who are seeking a community to be with while they explore their own spiritual journey."
Originally published March 4, 2006