ROME (ChurchMilitant.com) - A veteran exorcist is signaling that an epidemic of aggressive satanism leading to violence among young people could lead to the breakdown of society.
"As satanism and occult practices become increasingly normal among young people," a violent mentality which is "very, very dangerous for our society" is accelerating, Dominican priest Fr. Francois Dermine is warning.
"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," the exorcist for the Italian archdiocese of Ancona-Osimo told Crux.
By indulging in the occult at an early age, children and young people were in danger of acquiring "a satanist mentality" which resulted from a familiarity with the demonic world. Such familiarity with satanism becomes normal at a certain point.
The exorcist blamed secularization, family disintegration and the promotion of demonic literature and video games among children for the contagion of "aggressive satanism."
"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."
Young people no longer see the scandal-ridden and aging Church as a valid alternative in Western society, Dermine noted, "so they try to find something elsewhere. This something is, many times, the demonic world."
Family breakdown leaves children insecure, in unstable environments and without trustworthy points of reference, and so when "children are left alone they are destabilized and they don't have any defenses."
The situation worsens when peers invite them to join in an occult activity, "especially with the promise that the devil will give them power in exchange for loyalty," Dermine observed.
"If [children] have received love in their own families, it would be much more difficult to follow these kinds of ideologies" and "much more difficult to penetrate their minds," he said, explaining how, without a stable background, children are drawn to satanic activity in part out of a desire to overcome fears, and also as a means of breaking away from the "old ways" of how things were done in the past.
Internet exposure has raised the stakes exponentially and video games and school games are now filled with explicit references to the demonic, Dermine pointed out, citing the game "Charlie, Charlie Challenge" in which children cross two pencils on a grid with sectors marking "yes" or "no" and ask a Mexican demon, "Charlie," to answer the questions they ask.
In 2015, Time magazine called Charlie Charlie Challenge the "latest Internet fad" and "a fun thing the kids are doing these days," even though it admitted to the "murky origins" of the game. The leftwing British newspaper Independent dismissed the supernatural aspect of the game as having its source in "gravity" rather than "a malignant Mexican spirit."
But numerous participants have said the game does indeed involve the pencil moving by itself, in which case the activity, according to critics, would involving summoning demons and opening oneself up to the diabolical.
The exorcist also pointed to A Children's Book of Demons as an example of the normalization of satanism. Published in May 2019, the book is directed to children aged 5–10 years. Its illustrator is Aaron Leighton, a known promoter of occult practices, who has sketched colorful images of 20 different demons and teaches children the sigil, or magical symbol, for the demons and how to summon them.
A review notes that the book is "basically a grimoire [a manual of witchcraft to invoke demons and the spirit of the dead] for children. It contains 72 demons that can be conjured by children for their personal benefit."
Leighton writes his summary of the book:
Don't want to take out the trash tonight? Maybe you're swimming in homework? Perhaps that big bully is being a real drag? Well, grab your colored pencils and sigil drawing skills and dial up some demons! But be careful, even if these spirits are more silly than scary they are still demons.
Dermine's predictions have provoked a hostile response in some mainstream media.
Newsweek quotes co-founder of The Satanic Temple Lucien Greaves attacking the exorcist's ministry of deliverance as "backward," "harmful" and showing "a remarkable and unrepentant willful ignorance of the horrific recent history of child abuse accrued by the morally bankrupt Church he represents."
Greaves also defends "modern satanism" as "non-theistic in nature" calling The Satanic Temple "unquestionably more moral than the Catholic Church."
In May, Dermine said that temptation, not possession, is the most significant demonic activity.
Dermine, who is French Canadian, has lived in Italy since shortly before his priestly ordination in 1979.