Friday, October 30, 2009

Halloween Greetings From The Vatican

Real midwives of the Inquisition period kept cats because cats were reputed to drain off negative energy. In that sense they were very familiar with their owner's energy. When they were exposed to too much negative energy they got big and fat. Interesting theory.

Halloween Dangerous Says Vatican

In an article entitled Halloween's Dangerous Messages, Holy See newspaper l'Osservatore Romano quoted liturgical expert Joan Maria Canals as saying ''Halloween has an undercurrent of occultism and is absolutely anti-Christian''.

Father Canals, a member of a Spanish commission on church rites, urged parents ''to be aware of this and try to direct the meaning of the feast towards wholesomeness and beauty rather than terror, fear and death''.

L'Osservatore praised a Spanish community's decision to hold a prayer vigil on Saturday night and the Paris archdiocese's idea of having kids play a lucky dip dubbed 'Holywins' instead.

These and similar initiatives in South America ''allow Catholic communities to have an alternative to the feast, to bear witness to their faith and Christian hope in the face of death''.

The Catholic Church in Italy has taken a dim view of Halloween's growing popularity for years.

Last year, the bishops daily Avvenire appealed for a full-blown boycott, describing Halloween as a ''dangerous celebration of horror and the macabre''.

Warning parents of the dangers of children coming into contact with strangers during trick or treating, Anti-Occult Sect Service head Aldo Bonaiuto said the event ''promotes the culture of death'' and could spur ''pitiless (Satanic) sects without scruples''.

He also argued that the spooky festival sets a bad example for young children.

''Halloween pushes new generations towards a mentality of esoteric magic and it attacks sacred and spiritual values through a devious initiation to the art and images of the occult,'' he said.

''At best, it gives a big helping hand to consumerism and materialism,'' he added.


Halloween is not a traditional date on the Italian calendar but has been growing in popularity in recent years, with trick-or-treating becoming more common.

More than a million pumpkins are sold over the holiday while fancy-dress shops whose traditional bonanza came at Carnival time in February now make a killing in masks, costumes and accessories.

However, there is a small town in the southeastern region of Puglia, Orsara di Puglia, which has been celebrating Halloween for the past 1,000 years.

According to local historians, the only real difference between the American tradition and the town's version of Halloween is the date.

Halloween, a secular take on All Hallows Eve, the night before All Saints Day, is traditionally celebrated on the night of October 31, but in Orsara di Puglia the pumpkins come out on the evening between November 1 (All Saints Day) and Nov 2 (All Souls Day).

Hollowed-out and candle-lit pumpkins are placed outside homes on the evening of All Saints Day to keep away evil spirits and witches.

Townsfolks also light huge bonfires in the streets so as to illuminate the path of souls on their way to Purgatory.

Historians have traced Orsara's tradition back to a short-lived 8th-century incursion by a Germanic people, the Longobards, who in more northern parts supplanted older civilisations and reigned as the Lombards.


And to think all these years I thought Halloween was more or less innoncent fun. Here's a link to the post written by an Evangelical exorcist. Not much fun in this one either. It was posted on Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcast Network site and then taken down. Might have had to do with all the comments.

Michael Bayley has a very worthwhile post up on his site. Some of it deals with the connection between witches, midwives, and the influence of the rise in male medical practioners on maternal mortality rate and the whole process of giving birth. The Inquisition was not a positive event on many levels.

As fear driven as the Vatican seems to be getting, I guess I'm not surprised they have decided Halloween is dangerous. Actually, I would think all those evil spirits and energies would find Halloween a major put down and an insult, and as such, an energy decreasing rather than increasing celebration. So I say bring it on.


  1. The Vatican can only shame and blame these days. It is starting to feel like the alcoholic parent--This weekend the bishop relieved us from the Sunday obligation if we are ill. We do not have to go to confession before receiving Communion if we are ill and miss Mass. And here I thought it was up to us to use our brain and decide. Guess not.
    Keep up the support. We in Maine go to the polls on Tuesday but whatever the results, the damage in the churches from the ranting and raving from the altar will take a long time to heal. Especially when they remove from ministry those who support same sex marriage.

  2. I have been restraining myself from commenting on the situation in Maine because Bill Lyndsey and others have been doing such a good job, but come Monday my silence will end.

    That saddest part to me about all this anti gay marriage brouha is precisely the damage it is doing inside the Church itself.

    I have tons of empathy for the parents of gay children who sit in pews and listen to this stuff. I have very little empathy for the gay priests who haven't go the courage to stand up and refuse to go along with all of this. Fr. Farrow keeps going up and up and up in my estimation. God please send us more like him.

  3. Colleen, thanks for the note of support for the little bit I'm doing to keep light shining on the Maine situation. I have decided that this is the best way I can support a cause I think is really good--by blogging, though I'm at a distance.

    I have to admit my spirits flag, though. And utterly silly statements like this from the Vatican (which continues to listen to drivel from the American religious and political light) don't lift my spirits. Nor does John Allen's characterization of bloggers (on his NCR blog, no less) as angry, lonely, unemployed alcoholics typing away to nobody make me cheerier.

    Sorry to sound down. I feel down these days, and I find solace in reading what you and other good bloggers keep posting, when my own spirits flag.

  4. Colleen, I'm not going to say anything further on the Vatican rant - except that it is appropriate to juxtapose it with the exorcist drivel. I had seen an extract from it earlier, but when I referred to it in my own Hallowe'en post, I had lost the link. I also enjoyed the Wild Reed piece, with its much more sensible take on the pagan origins than the other two.

    Bill, hang in there. We look forward to being lifted by you, in turn, when those spirits rise again.

  5. Bill, to be honest, the last two articles John Allen has written have left me wondering what it up with him.

    I had a difficult time believing the NCR posted his piece on Cardinal Rode. It's a puff piece pure and simple. What legitimate journalist would grant an interview excluding the two most important issues facing the US Church from Rode's dicastery.

    It's analagous to interviewing Defense Secretary Gates for the Veterans of Foreign Wars and agreeing not to mention Iraq and Afghanistan. I strongly suspect it offended Dennis Coday to the extent that he posted his photo expose. Good for him.

    And then this latest piece on the younger generations. I'm still trying to figure out how he can make such sweeping generalizations from a data point of one, and that one from the heart of Texas. WOW

    As to his description of bloggers, well, maybe he's ticked off with some bloggers who have questioned who he is really working for, because from where I sit in my unemployed drunken loneliness, it sure looks like his income might be getting increased from rightwing investers. After all he does now live in the heart of the Evangelical Vatican and the Archdiocese of Chaput.

  6. I just came in from my local Kroger grocery store where the help were all dressed for the Halloween holiday.

    There was one young store associate whose costume was a roman collar and cassock.

    Now, that was scary!

  7. Funny. Our school (Catholic) celebrated All Saints day yesterday and the children dd a play on the origins of Halloween and how it is out making fun of the devil, etc. Kids even wore costumes (no bloody costumes, witched or the sort, of course, but some ghosts!) Our priest didn't seem to have a problem with any of it, and our parish is pretty conservative.

    Sadly, my 14 year old daughter recently told me she wants to becomes a Lutheran. I think she can feel my negativity towards the treatment of women in the Catholic church, and though I am taciturn around her, she seems to be a pretty smart cookie. This is the church's future--my daughters are very active in the mass several days a week singing and playing piano. The church is going to lose these beautiful young women to other more inclusive religions, such as the ELCA Lutherans here in the US.

  8. In a strange way I hope the pope keeps upping the ante here. Because the more and more bizarre the edicts he tries to enforce, the greater the number of people who will simply discount the pope's "voice" - thus reducing the overall effect of whatever he tries to do or say!

    Go for it, pope! Why not just ban "all" fun? ;)

    Or do you like to be the only ones "dressing in costume"?

  9. Colleen, one thing that strikes me about John Allen's comment: it's very close to that bloggers-in-pajamas theme that an anonymous White House source has used to attack progressive bloggers. As you know, I commented about this on my blog.

    I sense a disdain among centrists for bloggers who rock the boat--particularly when those centrists have a huge amount invested in maintaining the center. A center that has moved way, way to the right in recent years both politically and culturally . . . .

    The implication is that we ought to leave the opinion-making and dictating of truth to them, to the big boys who walk the halls of power. They have insider knowledge--or so they want us to think. And they're "balanced" and not angry, as we bloggers are. They see both sides. They don't get swayed by passion.

    Meanwhile, they're very much at the trough of power and privilege. There's a strong reaction going on in the Catholic church today to how that power and privilege are manifesting themselves in events like the invitation to the disgruntled Anglicans.

    Those who have invested everything in interpreting the Vatican for the rest of us (and who receive lots of perks for this interpreting) are, I suspect, becoming angered by the reaction to the power center they serve, and for which they can always find yet another apology.

  10. Terry, thanks for the encouragement. It means a great deal to be a part of this engaged community of discourse moving together towards worthwhile goals.

  11. Colleen, sorry to keep chattering on, but I just revisited John Allen's NCR blog posting knocking bloggers (!), and found the following very insightful response there from Greg Bullough, someone whose contributions to various Catholic-oriented blogs I immensely appreciate:

    "Allen's cheap shot at some very sincere, thoughtful, individuals puts the spotlight on his own journalistic credibility, and how it may in fact be compromised.

    '(By the way, hitting the road is really the only way to gauge that, as opposed to trawling through the blogosphere. At least in my experience, blogs call to mind what Homer Simpson once said about who watches cable access TV at three in the morning: "Alcoholics, the unemployed, angry loners …" The vox populi, in other words, it ain't.)'

    True, these folks don't have the luxury of hobnobbing with the ruling elite of the Church. But for the richly expense-accounted Mr. Allen to cast aspersions on his fellow journalists is elitist at best and unprofessional at worst.

    At least the bloggers' objectivity can't be thought to be compromised by the need to cultivate ongoing relationships with bishops and cardinals---- the latter won't give these unvarnished truth-tellers the time of day.

    John Allen, you owe the sincere bloggers of the world a sincere apology."

  12. Bill, Greg's comment is right on. I don't think it matters whether a blogger is from the progressive or conservative end of the theological spectrum, the issue seems to be none of us are supposed to question authority from our place of perceived emotional anger and insider ingnorance.

    That of course is BS. We all have access to most of the same information the Vatican is using for their 'informed' opinion.

    Cardinal Rode will eventually have to tie whatever decisions he comes to in both the ongoing investigations on the same Church teachings we can all access on the Vatican's website, and that's where the rubber meets the road.

    It has been quite depressing to watch the 'official' voices of Catholic media turn from serious journalism to apologetics. In this John Allen seems to be leading the way. This could be seen in has slant on his ending review of the African Synod. He writes that it's hopeful for women, but it isn't all that hopeful if you actually read the Vatican's English translation of the final documents. While there are a few paragraphs dealing with improving the voice of women in Africa and Roman Catholicism, there is also the one sentence which denies women real freedom in Reproductive choice and the ability to insist their HIV infected husbands use condoms in self defense. Bloggers serve to point out these discrepancies, and if that's embarrassing to the John Allen's of the Catholic world, too bad.

    As long as I'm off topic, one other note on the African Synod. The bishops spent more words on combatting witch craft and the darker aspects of Traditional African Relious practices and Allen blew that off entirely. I thought that omission was very interesting. Oh, I did mention witchcraft, so maybe this last bit is on topic.

  13. Allen's comment about bloggers was rather snide, but I had more of an issue with his celebration of the tepid, head-in-the-sand, "let's just pretend there's nothing wrong with the church" approach to being Catholic. People who ignore reality are hardly equipped to be the "next generation of Catholic leaders."

  14. Prickliest, someone in the comments challenged John on that point. It seems to me this piece identifies future followers, not leaders.

  15. Colleen, this posting will soon move down your list of postings, but before it does, I want to add one more comment. I noticed today (via the Commonweal blog, I think) a link to a discussion of blogging at the Vatican recently.

    It strikes me that the online world is finally getting the attention of Rome, and they're worried. They're worried because this is a way of doing theology and commenting on things Catholic that is beyond the control of centralized authority.

    So now there are many voices speaking the Catholic truth, and some of those are not official voices and do not have Rome's backing. It should always be that way in a church catholic, of course--many voices articulating the experience of God from manifold perspectives.

    It hasn't been that way in recent years, however, as Rome has cracked down in a truly draconian way on anyone who speaks differently than the magisterium does. The internet represents a direct challenge to what Rome has tried to do in the past few decades, and a refreshing one from where I stand. But clearly an alarming one from the standpoint of Rome and its apologists.

    Of whom John Allen is one, in my view--and long has been. I have been highly critical of his coverage of things Roman when he tried a soft-sell defense of the Vatican purge of gays in the seminaries.

  16. I read a similar article on Zenit and came to some of the same conclusions you have.

    The internet is the great equalizer in that it makes no distinctions concerning any of the usual categories by which we define worth. If you have a computer you can blog. It's also in some respects it's biggest draw back.

    The thing is though, that it respects people's ability to freely choose what they care to read and/or express.

    The whole concept has to be confusing and frightening to an institution who has always had control over who was considered worthy and orthodox and the information expressed.

    They are faced with real competition concerning the message and no ability to do much about it--except learn to express their message more competitively. In order to compete on that level, they are going to have to reassess their opinion of the 'simple' people and give them some credit for their ability to think and make informed choices.

    So far they seem to be failing.