The demonologist will see you now

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha. Excuse me – I can’t help it.

The Pope has instructed the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, formerly the Holy Office of the Inquisition, to draw up a new handbook to help bishops snuff out an explosion of bogus heavenly apparitions. Benedict XVI plans to update the Vatican’s current rules on investigating apparitions to help distinguish between true and false claims of visions of Jesus and the Virgin Mary, messages, stigmata (the appearances of the five wounds of Christ), weeping and bleeding statues and Eucharistic miracles.

Well yes, certainly, of course; one can quite see why he would. Only…is it really, actually, genuinely possible to distinguish between true and false claims of visions and stigmata and the like? Or are they much of a muchness? Oh no, surely they have a method; they can’t be just gesturing at the air.

[A]nyone who claims to have seen an apparition will only be believed as long as they remain silent and do not court publicity over their claims. If they refuse to obey, this will be taken as a sign that their claims are false. The visionaries will then be visited by a team of psychiatrists, either atheists or Catholics, to certify their mental health while theologians will assess the content of any heavenly messages to see if they contravene Church teachings.

Ah good! That’s a good method – that should definitely weed out the bogus claims, because Church teachings are the infallible checking mechanism for telling Up from Down, gold from dross, wheat from chaff, wine from vinegar, and heavenly from not so good.

If the visionary is considered credible they will ultimately be questioned by one or more demonologists and exorcists to exclude the possibility that Satan is hiding behind the apparitions in order to deceive the faithful.

Yes but…how does that work? What questions are there that demonologists and exorcists can ask that would reveal Satan hiding behind the apparitions? Isn’t Satan clever enough to answer their questions in such a way that they can’t spot Satan hiding? Oh well, I shouldn’t ask such questions, demonologists and exorcists are professionals and they have techniques and tools and skills that they learned and got degrees in, so I’ll just bow deferentially and go eat lunch.

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