"...blogging... should be made a serious criminal offence...."
Remember 29th December 2007? No? Well you should because the Holy Father sent forth a command around the globe to the effect that all Bishops should look to their exorcist missiles and prime them ready for use - and, if they only had one or two Diocesan Exorcists, they should gear up and get a team together - Satanism is on the march as we well know.
I do not believe that this message from Pope Benedict, Christ's representative on earth and recipient of the wisdom of the Holy Spirit; Head of the Catholic Church and Vicar of Rome, ever reached England and Wales.
That, at least, would be a charitable explanation of why the CBEW snooze while the devil charges around destroying souls.
I have worked for one or two big organisations in the past and there was always one rule that was ever observed;
"when the CEO says jump...then do it pdq and do it high".
Without that obedience to a single, supreme (in an earthly sense) source all becomes anarchy, chaos and confusion allowing the enemy to thrive and flourish at will.
But the Bishops appear to put two episcopal digits in the air to all that comes from Rome.
Could it be that the old enemy (not England) has already penetrated the walls of Dunblessin House? Is 'the smoke of satan' whisping through the carpeted halls of Archbishops' residences throughout the land?
Just to refresh your memory this is how the press reported the issue back in 2007:-
The Pope has ordered his bishops to set up exorcism squads to tackle the rise of Satanism.
Vatican chiefs are concerned at what they see as an increased interest in the occult.
They have introduced courses for priests to combat what they call the most extreme form of "Godlessness."
Each bishop is to be told to have in his diocese a number of priests trained to fight demonic possession.
The initiative was revealed by 82-year-old Father Gabriele Amorth, the Vatican "exorcistinchief," to the online Catholic news service Petrus.
"Thanks be to God, we have a Pope who has decided to fight the Devil head-on," he said.
"Too many bishops are not taking this seriously and are not delegating their priests in the fight against the Devil. You have to hunt high and low for a properly trained exorcist.
"Thankfully, Benedict XVI believes in the existence and danger of evil - going back to the time he was in charge of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith." The CDF is the oldest Vatican department and was headed by Benedict from 1982, when he was Cardinal Ratzinger, until he became Pope in 2005.
Intent on discovering whether there was any truth in my suspicion that no extra exorcists have been appointed in England and Wales (or that a Diocese even had an exorcist in the first place) I emailed 21 (only 21, not every Media contact has an email address - unbelievable) Diocesan Media Communications Officers, telling them that I intended to publish the results.
To date only 2 have responded. And one of those was a "no show" inasmuch that the priest concerned, Fr Derek Turnham of Stokesley, North Yorkshire, refused to relay the information to me.
He does not appear to like Catholic bloggers. OK. That's his prerogative, no problem there. But in his capacity as a media information type person doesn't he have a duty to pass on information? Well?
Here is what Fr T has to say about my request:-
Thank you very much for kindly responding with the information about your research.
I am afraid that for personal ethical reasons I am not prepared to co-operate – I believe that blogging as currently manifested should be made a serious criminal office because of the significantly negative comments that are so often made about people who are trying to do their best are so destructive to the good of society.
This statement speaks for itself, I will make no comments on the sentiments Father Turner expresses as I am sure that every Catholic blogger will have their own views on this matter.
If a journo from The Sun newspaper (I use the word loosely) contacted him and asked him for the same information...would he refuse?
Has he not heard of the Holy Father's words of encouragement on the new media technologies and those who dabble in them?
Fr Turner was very free in granting an interview to The T****t magazine (I use the word loosely) allowing them a fly on the wall insight into his domestic life, so why so coy about the number of exorcists in the Diocese?
Unless, of course, there are none and the Pope's order has not been obeyed.
And now, a big thank you to Fr John Harvey of Brentwood Diocese. He responded by return giving complete information as requested. He, also, may not approve of my blog or of Catholic bloggers, I do not know. But I do know that he was professional and confident enough to reply, and that's just plain Christian courtesy and sound business practice.
So, all that time has elapsed since Pope Benedict's request to his Bishops and little or nothing appears to have been done in response to that request, certainly in England and Wales.
Zilch....nothing, no reply.
That fact, in itself begs the question.......when you make a demand surely you follow through to see if your orders have been obeyed?
So why has Rome been silent for the best part of four years?
Is someone keeping the HF in the dark?
Maybe I need to make a phone call to find out more.....where's that number?
.....ah, yes, here it is....666......ooops!
Postscript: H/T to Berenike for pointing out that the Vatican denied (at the time) issuing such a request to the Bishops. There appears to be two views here but, even accepting that the Vatican is right and Fr Amorth wrong, we should still have exorcists in every Diocese - teams of them!