Catholic Church and Police Join Forces Against “Satanism” in Italy

The Daily Telegraph reports on claims of Satanism in Italy:

Priests are to work alongside Italian police officers to tackle a rising tide of crimes linked to devil worship.

The clerics have been seconded to the Squadra Anti Sette (SAS) anti-sect squad by the Vatican after Church officials became concerned about the number of churches being desecrated by Satanists. In recent months there have also been a string of murders that have been linked to devil worship.

One of the Vatican’s leading experts on Satanism and the occult, Don Oreste Benzi, has been brought in to liaise with police.

According to Benzi:

“We estimate that there are at least 8,000 Satanic sects across the country with more than 600,000 members and the numbers are growing…”

The evidence is mainly that a gang of teenagers called “the Beasts of Satan” murdered two of their own members back in 2004. The “Squadra Anti Sette” was announced last month – those who can tackle Italian can see a report here.

Details about Benzi in English are scare, although he was in the news back in October, on a predictable topic:

A Catholic priest known for his crusades against prostitution has blasted Halloween for being a satanic rite which undermines the principles of religion . According to Father Oreste Benzi, head of the Pope John XXII[I] community, Halloween “has been imposed by an esoteric- satanic culture which induces the community to perform rituals of witchcraft, spiritualism and satanism which can even lead to ritual sacrifices and violence” .

…”On October 31, satanic rites are performed in deconsecrated churches and in many cemeteries. Communion wafers are stolen and places of our Christian tradition are violated,” the priest continued. “I ask that the Catholic world in no way promotes or encourages this celebration of the macabre and horror. We at the Pope John XXIII community have been working for years to free the victims of occult sects,” Father Benzi said.

The “Pope John XXIII Community” (or the “Comunità Papa Giovanni XXIII”) is known for its charitable work:

The history of the Association began in 1968 as a result of time spent with young people and disabled people in schools and holiday camps. This, and other experiences, led to the awareness of a need to spend time and share life with all those who are marginalised and in need. In 1973 the first ‘family homes’ were born. These are large families where single people or couples, helped by volunteers, become mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers of people with disabilities, unmarried mothers, ex prisoners, alcoholics, recovering drug addicts, women/girls set free from prostitution. At present there are approximately two hundred such family homes in Italy and more throughout the world.

There is no indication, however, that the elderly Benzi is any sort of “expert” on “Satanism and the occult”, and an Italian profile here gives no further clues. However, a 2003 report mentions Benzi in relation to a “No to Satanism” campaign.

The question of how many Italian Satanists there are has been discussed on this blog before. While Benzi has 600,000 members in 8,000 sects, a Telegraph report in mid-2005 cited a “respected research institute” that had supposedly catalogued “650 sects”, and which claimed that half a million Catholics had had some kind of unspecified “contact” with such groups. In contrast, a sociological organisation, CESNUR, suggests there are about 1,000 Satanists in Italy, with 2,000 to 3,000 involved to some extent in a Satanic “sub-culture”, plus some “juvenile” Satanists.

2 Responses

  1. “Satanic Panic” Comes To Italy…

    Oh my.

  2. […] I have blogged on fears about Satanism in Italy several times in the past, such as here and here. […]

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