Silence in Church
In February, Kepari Leniata, a 20 year old mother from Papua New Guinea, was stripped, tortured, doused in petrol and burned alive. Hundreds of bystanders were in attendance, some even taking photographs of the events. She was suspected of being a witch (Guardian, 8 February 2013).
And in Zimbabwe in January, a sorceress who survived a massive explosion in her home explained that it occurred when her partner, a witchdoctor, was beheading a goblin. A customer who had paid $15,000 dollars to have the goblin dealt with and the witchdoctor were both killed. The explosion occurred during a ‘lightning manufacturing process’ involving petrol and electricity which was required for the operation (religionnewsblog.com/27031).
Meanwhile in London on 4th February, Justin Portal Welby, another man who believes in the resurrection of the dead, a ‘holy ghost’ and other spiritual hogwash was sworn in as the new Archbishop of Canterbury. As part of the proceedings he promised to ‘promote unity, peace and love among all Christian people,’ and to guide the Church away from ‘error.’
He may have his work cut out since ‘unity, peace and love’ are in short supply in the Anglican Church at the moment, but at least there is plenty of ‘error,’ so perhaps he can get stuck into that.
One of the most dangerous examples of religious error (admittedly, more associated with the independent happy-clappy churches than with Justin’s lot) is the apparently growing belief here too in witchcraft, exorcisms and the casting out of evil spirits, etc. particularly from children: Kristy Bamu, for example, who in 2010 was tortured to death by his sister and her partner who had convinced themselves that he was a witch.
And should any would-be witch doctor for Jesus need instruction in performing an exorcism, the internet is awash with them – complete with handy lists of biblical passages to study. (wikihow.com/Perform-a-Christian-Exorcism, for example.)
According to the Guardian (1March 2012), ‘More than 650 Pentecostal churches opened in the UK between 2005 and 2010, taking the total to 3900. Many feature exorcisms and sell lucrative ‘cures’ for possession.’ And in August last year, Tim Loughton, the government’s children’s minister, complained of the ‘wall of silence’ that surrounded the problem (Guardian, 14 August 2012).
So, if the new Archbishop of Cant wants to do something about the ‘error’ of the faithful, given that belief in biblical teachings is part of it, he now has the perfect opportunity to break the ‘wall of silence’ and come clean about the dangers that lie in wait for the gullible in religion.
However, we do like a happy ending in the Halo, Halo column, so here’s a piece from the Guardian (29 January) to show that silence from the Church can sometimes be golden – or rather, worth its weight in gold.
When the vicar of St Peter’s in East Blachington, Sussex described his church as having ‘a wonderful quality of silence,’ one of the flock hit on the idea of recording, and flogging it. And apparently they’ve sold out of their first pressing and are now taking orders from as far away as Ghana.
Well, Christianity has been selling nothing for 2,000 years, but how long it will take for the customers of these CDs to realise that you need perfect silence before you can listen to them is anyone’s guess. Witchcraft is obviously not the only scam the faithful fall for.
Upon My Pontiff!
ONCE THE tabloids had their teeth sunk into that nice, juicy horsemeat scandal story that had been dominating the headlines it needed something of global importance to knock it off the front pages. But on 11th February the prayers of the meat industry were answered. The fact that they’d been feeding us minced nag labelled as beef for ages and that no-one had a clue about its origin, or what equine drugs had been injected into it were forgotten, temporarily at least.
The tired and confused 85 year old Pope Benedict XVI had jacked in his job and until a successor could be appointed the world was without its direct link to God. This was almost unprecedented. Popes are supposed to go on until they die. They are infallible.
Pope Benedict became infallible in a puff of white smoke eight years ago and his resignation raised an important question. You may remember that episode of ‘Father Ted’ where a visiting bishop had a Grade Two holy relic, ‘the holy stone of Clonrichert’ rammed up his backside by Father Jack, and Father Ted asked ‘will it still be a Grade Two when it’s removed?’ The question now applies to the ex-Pope’s infallibility. Is he still infallible now?
It’s not a question we’ve had to consider recently. The last Pope to resign was Gregory XII in 1415, and before that in 1045 Pope Benedict IX resigned after being accused of ‘feasting on immorality’, committing ‘many vile adulteries and murders’ and of being ‘So vile, so foul’ and ‘so execrable’. He then sold the papacy to his godfather who became Pope Gregory VI, and himself resigned the following
But at least it’s not bad news for all the doomsday theorists out there. The 12th century St Malachy, an Irish archbishop prophesied that there would only be 112 more Popes before the Last Judgment and Benedict XVI was the 111th. Watch this space.