Ghost Busters

The Pope is setting up crack exorcism squads to deal with the growing problem of demonic possession, ac Ruth Gledhill. He wants every parish to have its own exorcism expert. Maybe they can combine the job with the other newly-created role of person who prays to rid the church of paedophiles otherwise the Catholic Church’s parish wages bill may go through the roof.

Some priests have long been quite keen to take the Pope’s advice and follow Bill Murray’s example, according to the Independent in 2000.

We’ve never been busier, says official church exorcist

The Inquisition was just a warm-up then?

Apparently, the Chief Exorcist blamed New Age crackpottery for the rise in demonic possession caes. I assume the exorcism rites are based on traditional “Set a thief to catch a thief” principle, so I will forbear from mentioning the equally traditional pots and kettles.

Let’s hope that the Christian churches draw back before following the example of Matthew Arnold, self appointed Witchfinder General. A recent Discovery channel TV programme (well I saw it recently) discussed some of the marvels of witch-finding that he achieved. He got very wealthy, very quickly, as a result of being so good at detecting people in league withe devil.

Torture was illegal, so Hopkins and his colleagues used other methods to encourage their suspects to confess. They were made to sit on a stool for 24 hours or more with no sleep, while ‘watchers’ observed in case their ‘imps’ appeared. With serious sleep deprivation is it any wonder that women confessed to consorting with the devil? Ducking was another favourite way of testing a witch. If she drowned she was innocent, if she lived she was guilty and then hanged.

Hmm, some modern governments are really quite attentive students of history then.