Exorcists, assigned to that ministry by their bishops, demonstrate the love and care of the Church for “those who suffer because of the work of the devil,” Pope Francis said in a message to the International Association of Exorcists.
The organisation, which was recognised by the Congregation for Clergy in June, brought some 300 exorcists to Rome for a convention focused particularly on the impact of the occult and Satanism on modern men and women.
In an October 27 interview with Vatican Radio, Dr Valter Cascioli, a psychiatrist and spokesman for the group, said the number of people who turn to the occult or are fascinated by Satanic cults and rituals “is constantly increasing and this worries us” because it appears to coincide with “an extraordinary increase in demonic activity”.
Cascioli said too many people today undervalue temptation, “ordinary demonic activity,” which leaves them unprepared to fight off greater attacks by the devil.
In societies marked by “rushing, superficiality, exaggerated individualism and secularisation,” he said, “the battle against evil and the devil increasingly is becoming an emergency.”
Where faith is weak, he said, “the enemy of God” finds easy prey.
The exorcists’ association, Cascioli said, sees the impact of the devil’s wiles on families as well as individuals. “We know that the one who divides — the devil — not only separates us from God, but separates persons and families.”
Meanwhile, Francis told his own science academy that the Big Bang theory and evolution do not eliminate the existence of God, who remains the one who set all of creation into motion.
And God’s existence does not contradict the discoveries of science, he told members of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences on October 27.
“When we read the account of creation in Genesis, we risk thinking that God was a magician, complete with a magic wand, able to do everything. But it is not like that,” he said. “He created living beings and he let them develop according to the internal laws that he gave each one, so that they would develop and reach their full potential.”
God gave creation full autonomy while also guaranteeing his constant presence in nature and people’s lives, he said.
The beginning of the world is not a result of “chaos,” he said, but comes directly from “a supreme principle that creates out of love.”
“The Big Bang, which today is held as the beginning of the world, does not contradict the intervention of the divine creator, but requires it,” he said. “Evolution in nature is not at odds with the notion of creation because evolution presupposes the creation of beings that evolve.”
Members of the academy, many of them renowned scientists and philosophers, were meeting at the Vatican from October 24 to 28 to discuss Evolving Concepts of Nature.
Science, philosophy and religion have all contributed to how people see the world, how it began and what it all means, said the introduction to the academy’s program.
Despite many scientific advances, many mysteries remain, said Rafael Vicuna, professor of molecular genetics and molecular biology at the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile. While Charles Darwin shed light on the origin of species, one of the most perplexing questions is the actual origin of life, Vicuna said.
How is it that inert, inanimate matter turned into something living, and how is it that the first living single-celled organisms were still so amazingly complex, he asked in his talk on October 27.
Chemistry, biology and genetics have been able to identify the tiniest components and basic building blocks of living organisms, but there is something more than just what they are made out of that makes them “living,” he said in an interview with the Catholic newspaper, Avvenire.
“I can know perfectly what a cell is made up of, but how it works deep down, what really is the dynamism that makes it move — that is, life — I don’t know,” Vicuna said. “A refrigerator and a car are complex structures that move, but only with an immense amount of energy from the outside. Life, in its deepest essence, remains something that escapes us.”
In his talk to academy members, Vicuna said the laws of chemistry and physics “do not suffice to grasp the whole of life … that life is more than molecules.”
Pierre Lena, a French Catholic astrophysicist, told the assembly that there are laws at work in the entire universe that are “eternal, creative, uniform in space and time and stable” enough to be fairly predictable.
“But these laws have a mystery. Why are they there? We can’t touch them, but they act. They are not God,” he said, but they are a sign of the “supranatural existence of something.”
He told Catholic News Service that scientists can observe laws working exactly the same way over time and space. This “strange property” means scientists can figure out what most likely happened one billion years ago, as well as “in a remote galaxy and here in this room with the same accuracy.”
“If the laws were changing, science would not be possible,” Lena said.
Early philosophers like Plato, St Thomas Aquinas and St Augustine all felt nature’s wonder and beauty reflected the beauty and perfection of their maker, Vicuna said.
However, “the existence of a divine creator of life and the universe” comes from personal belief and conviction, not scientific proof; science cannot empirically prove or disprove a God that transcends the natural sciences, he said.
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