It’s often said that Satan’s greatest feat is convincing people he doesn’t exist.
Very well may be that Dominican Catholic priest Fr. François-Marie Dermine of the Archdiocese of Ancona-Osimo, Italy, also a professor of theology at the Faculty of Theology of Emilia Romagna, Bologna, would certainly agree with Old Scratch.
It turns out that the Canadian-born cleric is also one of the few exorcists assigned to the archdiocese. Speaking of exorcism, Fr. Dermine has quite the warning for Western civilization.
As reported by Elise Harris of the liberal-leaning Catholic news site Crux; (emphasis mine)
One long-time Catholic exorcist has sounded an alarm over what he called an uptick in “aggressive Satanism,” especially among young people, which he insists is due in part to the rapid growth of cultural secularism and a lack of strong role models.
Among other things, Dominican Father Francois Dermine said, exposure to the demonic at a young age encourages violence, ranging from bullying to more serious manifestations.
“There are many groups of satanism,” Dermine said, noting that internet exposure has also increased, and references to the demonic are increasingly prevalent in videogames and school games such as the “Charlie Charlie challenge,” in which players cross two pencils on a grid with sectors marking ‘yes’ or ‘no’ and ask a supernatural being, “Charlie,” to answer the questions they ask.
“Satanism is getting much more aggressive and also diffused,” Dermine said. Speaking to Crux, he faulted growth in secularism, which he said retired pontiff Benedict XVI dedicated much of his papacy to fighting, as one of the main causes.
“Secularization leaves a void,” he said, explaining that alongside it is a “sort of spiritual, ideological and also cultural void. Young people do not have anything to satisfy their spiritual and profound needs. They are thirsting for something, and the Church is not attractive anymore.”
Pointing to the dangers of getting involved with the demonic at a young age, Dermine said the risk is acquiring “a Satanist mentality” in which youth slowly become familiar with the demonic world, which, at a certain point, becomes normal. And when it does, “they risk passing from the culture to the acts. They can become evil themselves very easily.”
Part of the fault, he said, is due to the breakdown of the family structure, which often leaves children insecure, in unstable environments and without trustworthy points of reference.
“Education of young people is poorer and poorer,” he said. “Couples are collapsing. Children are left alone; they are destabilized, and they don’t have any defenses,” so when they face pressure from peers to join in an occult activity, especially with the promise that the devil will give them power in exchange for loyalty, it’s hard to resist.
As Satanism and occult practices become increasingly normal among young people, they also face pressure not to feel out of the loop if friends and peers are involved, Dermine said, adding that the “real danger” comes when someone becomes personally involved in these activities.
“It’s not only a vague fear, it’s a very concrete risk. We must not underestimate this, because violence among young people is becoming more and more diffused,” he said.
“A violent mentality is very dangerous for our society, very, very dangerous,” he said, adding, “Our society risks collapse if it continues like this.”
In quite the act of bravery, Fr. Dermine didn’t hesitate to put a hefty amount of the blame on his own Church. As cited by Elise Harris last spring for the Catholic News Agency; (emphasis mine)
“I think the reason for that is our society is becoming more and more atheistic, people are going away from prayer and the sacraments … so there are fewer defenses against the devil.”
Another important, but “abnormal” factor, he said, is a lack of faith within the Church itself, because during an exorcism, “the exorcist prays in the name of the Church.”
“If, within the Church, you have the clergy and also a certain number of bishops who do not believe in the devil or his actions, then the exorcist is deprived of the power of the prayer of the Church.”