Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Diabolical Entities and Effective Exorcism

Dear Bishop Manchester, my English name is Alan and I write from Milan, Italy. I wish to let you know that I am a big admirer of your work. Your fight against the evil forces is a true inspiration for me. Unfortunately your books aren't available in my language and, believe me, this is a big regret for me. That said, I have a few questions for you. I would be really honoured to receive an answer. What is your opinion about the essay by Don Augustin Calmet, Dissertations sur les Apparitions des Anges des Démons et des Espits, et sur les revenants, et Vampires de Hongrie, de Boheme, et de Silésie? In your opinion do vampires still represent a concrete danger at the present? If yes, which are our best protections against them? I would like to know if there are icons or symbols that we can consider particularly effective against these diabolical manifestations. In your opinion would it be possible to classify the phenomenon of vampirism like a particular kind of diabolical possession? In this regard, do you know Father Amorth, the Italian Dean of European exorcists? What do you think about his life and works? Finally, I would like to receive a blessing from you. Thank you in advance. With respect and admiration. Alan

I am of an opinion founded on experience that vampires (demonic predatory entities) are a real and present danger. The best defence against such supernatural evil is one's Faith. Vampires absorb blood (the abode of the soul) in a way that enables the wraith to manifest in tangible form, thereby appearing as an accursed body which issues forth from within the confines of its earthly grave by supernatural means to drain the essence of life from the living whereby the corporeal aspect is seemingly nourished and preserved with new vitality and fresh energy. This corporeal form can nevertheless metamorphose; that is to say shape-shift. 

There are antidotes and repellents to guard against vampiric interference or attack. These I identify in my concise vampirological guide The Vampire Hunter's Handbook, which is only available in the English language. However, I would immediately suggest the presence of a crucifix, holy water and the burning of incense. It is unlikely such measures will be necessary. In any event, a priest should be consulted.

Dom Augustin Calmet’s attempt to establish the veracity of such predatory demonic entities lacked first-hand evidence. He seemed to concentrate on the collecting of vampire reports, which he certainly did not dismiss out of hand, and then offered his reflections on them. Calmet defined the phenomena as corpses that returned from their graves to disturb the living by sucking their blood and even causing death. The only remedy was to exhume the afflicted body, sever its head, and drive a stake through the heart. Cremation was another effective alternative. Using that definition, he gathered all the accounts he could find, and it is these reports of collected data that take up the majority of space in his volume. He justifiably condemned the hysteria which accompanied several of the reported vampire incidents, and also considered all the natural explanations that were offered for the phenomenon.

His findings were inconclusive. However, Calmet did not state that the reports could be explained away by natural causes, but he shrank from proposing an alternative answer. In other words, he left the entire matter unresolved. Yet he seemed to favour the existence of vampires by noting “that it seems impossible not to subscribe to the belief which prevails in these countries that these apparitions do actually come forth from the graves and that they are able to produce terrible effects which are so widely and so positively attributed to them.” Calmet had posed five possibilities for all the accounts he had considered. Three of these he dismissed. The remaining two consisted of the possibility that vampires are the result of the Devil’s interference, or just superstition. No firm conclusion was apparent until the third and last edition, published in 1751, where in his bestselling work he makes clear that he could conclude naught save that such creatures as vampires really did return from the grave

Calmet and other high-placed clergy also conferred on vampirism what in effect amounted to official recognition. Such is the case with both Archbishop Guiseppe Davanzati (1665-1755) in his Dissertation on Vampires (1744) and, perhaps unintentionally, Pope Benedict XIV in Book IV of the second edition of the voluminous On the Beatification of the Servants of God and on the Canonisation of the Beatified (1749).

Curialium, written 1182-92 by the noted ecclesiastical scholar Walter Map (1140-1209) and Historia Rerum Anglicarum, written 1196 by an Augustinian monk by the name of William of Newburgh (1136-1198), contain all manner of tales of the undead, mostly excommunicated, who leave their tombs at night to torment those close to them or to provoke a series of suspicious deaths. When their caskets are opened, their bodies are found to be intact and spotted with blood. The only way to end the demonic pollution was to burn the body after impaling it. Lacking a specific term, the English chroniclers named these undead cadaver sanguisugus, Latin for "blood-sucking corpse." Numerous accounts attesting to the existence of revenants who returned from the dead have been collected since as long ago as the eleventh century, well before the term vampire entered the dictionary or common usage. The Minutes of the Council of 1304 recounts the Bishop of Chartres' report which told of a corpse wandering beyond its grave. A report made by the Bishop of Cahors, a city in central France, in 1031 told of corpses found intact outside their tombs, as recorded in Dictionnaire Infernal (1818). In the second half of the sixteenth century, the Reformation, a movement led by dissenters from Roman Catholic doctrines and practices, contributed to making vampirism official.

Pope Innocent VIII sanctioned the publication of Malleus Maleficarum (1486) which treatise included the discovery and eliminantion of nocturnal demons and revenants. Many saw this as the Church officially sanctioning the existence of the undead, ie predatory demons able to materialise, demateralise and appear to be the living dead or what we now call vampires. The word vampire did not yet exist and instead the terms incubi and succubi will be found in Malleus Maleficarum. For example, there is reference to "the bewitchment of human beings by means of Incubuc and Succubus devils" which, it is noted, "can happen in three ways." The three ways are those who "prostitute" themselves to demons, those with a connection to demons, and, thirdly, those who are molested by demons against their will.

Demonologie (1597) by King James is a treatise expressing a particular point of view and not one shared by everybody that vampiric spectres are not the souls of the dead but demons masquerading as the deceased. I hold the view that the two possibilities are not necessarily mutually exclusive if the person who had led an exceedingly wicked life devoted to the black arts dies in a state of mortal sin as a result of demonic interference. The trapped soul and demonic presence might very well occupy the same metamorphosed shell (corpse). I also take the view that those who become vampires were never truly deceased in the first place, ie not God's true dead but the Devil's undead, masquerading under the appearance of the "resurrected" dead. However, these are areas about which we can only speculate.

Only dissenting traditionalists within the Catholic and Protestant Churches continued to openly subscribe to the existence of vampires from the "Age of Enlightenment" onward. Individual priests and bishops nevertheless remained vigilant even though the Western Church appeared (to the outside world, at least) to now refute revenants and the undead. The Eastern Churches, particulary the Orthodox Churches, remained openly convinced of the existence of them, however, throughout and after the so-called "Age of Enlightenment." Eastern Church clergy often accept this pestilence to be real and in need of exorcising.

Liberal clergy and modern philosophers in the eighteenth century started to condemn belief in vampirism in the name of logic and "common sense" without considering too deeply that most of what the Church teaches (eg the Resurrection, which completely defies all logic).

In 1852, Voltaire, in his Philosophical Dictionary, wrote: "You will find stories of vampires in the Jewish Letters, 1738, whom the Jesuits have accused of believing nothing. It should be observed how they triumph in the history of the vampire ... how they thanked God and the virgin for having at last converted this poor d'Argens. ... Behold, said they, this famous unbeliever, who dared to throw doubts on the appearance of the angel to the holy virgin; on the star which conducted the magi; on the cure of the possessed; on the immersion of two thousand swine in a lake; on an eclipse of the sun at the full moon; on the resurrection of the dead who walked in Jerusalem; his heart is softened, his mind is enlightened: He believes in vampires."

Gabriele Amorth (born 1 May 1925) is an Italian priest and an exorcist of the Diocese of Rome who has performed tens of thousands of exorcisms to rid folk of demons. He said that the new rite of exorcism is "a farce. An incredible obstacle that is likely to prevent us from acting against the demon." He observes that the new exorcism rite forbids exorcisms on people who have been reportedly subjected to evil spells. Father Amorth exclaimed: "Absurd! Evil spells are by far the most frequent causes of possessions and evil procured through the demon: at least 90% of cases. It is as good as telling exorcists they can no longer perform exorcisms." He also noted that it also "solemnly declares that one should not carry out exorcisms if one is not certain of the presence of the Devil" while "it is only through exorcism that the demons reveal themselves." He considers the new rite: "A blunt weapon. ... Efficacious prayers, prayers that had been in existence for twelve centuries, were suppressed and replaced by new ineffective prayers." I agree with him. He has my utmost respect.

You have my blessing

Articles of Faith

Dear Bishop, I hope my queries are not consuming to much of your time, but your very informative reply to my last question has raised an additional one: You refer to yourself as a traditionalist Catholic, yet at the same time you state (on your website) that you don't accept the dogmas regarding the Virgin Mary and the dogma of Papal Infallibility. However, according to the the traditional teachings of the church (as expressed for example by Saint Robert Bellarmine), whoever denies the validity of one dogma opposes the whole body of Catholic tradition because the dogmatic doctrines as a whole form the foundation of the depositum fidei, being revealed by divine inspiration, thus not belonging to the church doctrines made by man, but to the "ius divinum" revealed by God Himself. I am not asking this question with the intention of questioning your Christian faith which for me - having read your books - is beyond any dispute. I'd just be interested to learn how you reconcile these doctrinal views with the facts that you define yourself as a "traditional Catholic" and that you attend the church services of the SSPX? Best regards.  Patrick

What I actually say is that we reject "the doctrines of the Immaculate Conception (1854) and the Corporeal Assumption of Mary (1950) as Articles of Faith necessary to salvation. Neither dogma is explicitly contained in Holy Writ. The Roman Church, therefore, cannot add to the depositum fidei for even the Vatican is emphatic in proclaiming that there can be no new revelation of divine truth." It does not follow that I reject either of these dogmas; only that accepting them is not necessary for my salvation, as the Roman Catholic Church has insisted since 1854 and 1950 respectively.

It is also stated on the same website that we "oppose the definition, held by many Roman Catholics, of the Virgin Mary as Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix and Advocate and assert that such mediation belongs exclusively to Our Lord Jesus Christ." Many Roman Catholics, of course, would not accept the definition of the Virgin Mary as Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix and Advocate, and it is not dogma postulated as necessary for salvation by the Roman Catholic Church.

It is further stated that "decrees promulgated by the Roman Church in 1870 concerning the Infallibility and Universal Jurisdiction of the Bishop of Rome, the Pontiff or Pope, are rejected. The term 'pontiff' formerly applied to any bishop, but became corrupted when adopted by the 'supreme pontiff' as Pontifex Maximus, an exclusively pagan title. Many bishops employed the title 'pope' (meaning 'father') in the early Church. Pope Leo in the fifth century was the first to use it officially. Pope Gregory in the eleventh century, by decree, reserved the title for the Bishop of Rome." Hence I am an autocephalous English Catholic and not a Roman Catholic.

I reconcile my position as a traditionalist, as explained in my book The Grail Church, by identifying with the Early Church before later corruptions were adopted for a variety of reasons. My traditionalism extends back to the Apostles and the Church Fathers. That notwithstanding, I find a sense of piety and an atmosphere of sacred devotion during an Old Mass celebrated in an SSPX Church that I no longer experience in the modern Roman Catholic Church which has become all too liberal in its attitude and presentation. The New Mass does not hold for me a scintilla of what is present at the celebration of the Old Mass. Quiet contemplation of Christ in the chalice is what should be at the heart of the experience.

Monday, 15 April 2013

Rituale Romanum

Dear Bishop Manchester, having read your comments regarding Pope Francis and Benedict's resignation I was wondering what your opinion might be of the Society of St Pius X. which was founded by the late Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre? I believe one of their bishops presently also resides in the London area? As a side question do you think sacramental rites such as the Holy Mass or prayers (especially exorcisms) are more "effective" if they are celebrated or pronounced in Latin or according to the rites prior to the liturgical reforms implemented in 1970 by Paul VI? Best regards.  Patrick

The short answer is that, when in London, I invariably attend the SSPX  Church of Saints Joseph and Padarn in Salterton Road, Holloway, where sacred devotion and quiet contemplation, once so familiar to all Catholics prior to the unfortunate reforms of the Second Vatican Council, obtain in absolute abundance.

I conduct sacerdotal rites in accordance with the Rituale Romanum. Exorcisms are also carried out in Latin. Whether the use of Latin is more "effective" than the vernacular is not a claim I can make or a judgement I would care to reach. However, I can opine that I prefer these rites to be in Latin, and am quite obviously a traditionalist.

There are probably many people who might not be aware of the complexities and minutiae implicit in what you raise. For their benefit I would like to broaden the topic to share what lies at the heart of the matter.

Traditionalists, like myself, are Catholics who believe in a restoration of the liturgical forms, public and private devotions and presentations of Catholic teachings which prevailed in the Catholic Church before the Second Vatican Council (1962–65). Traditionalist Catholics generally prefer to be referred to simply as Catholics. Some traditionalists practise their faith outside the Roman Catholic Church, though they affirm their loyalty to the Church and to the papacy. The largest priestly society to fit this description is the Society of St Pius X (SSPX), which was established in 1970 by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, a founding figure of Catholic traditionalism. Members of this category view the post-Conciliar changes as being doctrinally and pastorally unacceptable. Discussions between the SSPX and the Holy See have been in progress for some years, and in January 2009 the Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops remitted the excommunications which the Congregation had declared to have been incurred by the Society's bishops in 1988. He further expressed the hope that the Society would speedily return to full communion with the Church by showing "true fidelity and true acknowledgment of the Magisterium and the authority of the pope."

Traditionalist Catholics believe that they are preserving Catholic orthodoxy by not accepting all changes introduced since the Second Vatican Council, changes that some of them have described as amounting to a "veritable revolution." It is thought that the positions now taken by mainstream Catholics — even conservative Catholics — would have been considered "modernist" or "liberal" at the time of the Council, and that they themselves hold positions that were then considered "conservative" or "traditional."

The best-known and most visible sign of Catholic traditionalism is an attachment to the form that the Roman Rite liturgy of the Mass had before the liturgical reform of 1969-1970, in the various editions of the Roman Missal published between 1570 and 1962. This form is generally known as the Tridentine Mass, though traditionalists more frequently opt to call it the Traditional Mass.

Traditionalist Catholics lay stress on continuing customs that prevailed immediately prior to the Second Vatican Council, such as the following:

Abstaining from meat on Fridays. Present discipline maintains Fridays and Lent as days and times of penance, declares that abstinence from meat or some other food as determined by the local episcopal conference is to be observed on all Fridays (excluding solemnities) and on Ash Wednesday, and allows episcopal conferences to permit other practices of personal penance to take the place of abstinence from meat.

Fasting from midnight before receiving Holy Communion. This discipline was modified in 1953 by Pope Pius XII, who reduced the fast period to three hours, and this modification is accepted by many traditionalists. Few accept the one-hour rule promulgated by Paul VI in 1966, which is that laid down in the 1983 Code of Canon Law.

Kneeling to receive Communion directly upon the tongue, under the Host species alone, and from the hand of a cleric rather than a lay person. Some would refuse to receive even from deacons, who, before the reforms of Pope Paul VI, were allowed to give Holy Communion only if there were a serious reason for permitting them to do so. Most traditionalists regard the practice of receiving communion in the hand, though authorised by the Holy See, as an abuse and as sacrilegious.

Women wearing a headcovering in church, a practice that was widespread, but not universal, before the Council.

Frequent confession, a practice that grew in the first half of the twentieth century.

Prayers such as the Stations of the Cross and the Rosary in the form in use before the late twentieth century, and so without the alterations in the number and identity of the Stations that became common, though by no means universal, in the time of Pope Paul VI and without the addition of the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary recommended as an option by Pope John Paul II.

These practices are not confined to traditionalists; some mainstream Catholics also follow them.

Sedevacantists are traditionalists who believe the Pope or previous Popes have fallen into heresy and therefore the Pope and those bishops in union with him have forfeited their authority. In addition, they usually believe that the Mass of Paul VI and holy orders in the official Church since 1968 are invalid (ie like orders in the Church of England and other Protestant denominations) and prefer to receive sacraments from priests ordained in the old pre-1968 rite who use the liturgy from the early 1950s. Such people neither possess nor seek the approval of the Church hierarchy.

Conclavism is the belief and practice of some traditionalists who, claiming that Pope Francis and other recent occupants of the papal see are not true popes, elect someone else and propose him as the true pope to whom the allegiance of Catholics is due. They are often classified as sedevacantists because they reject the official papal succession for the same reasons.

The Rituale Romanum is one of the official ritual works of the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church. It contains all of the services which may be performed by a priest or deacon which are not contained within either the Missale Romanum or the Breviarium Romanum. The Rituale Romanum is probably most famous for its rite of exorcism. While the text is becoming increasingly more rare, every Catholic Diocese in the world has a priest who is technically responsible for carrying out exorcisms as instructed by the bishop.

The Rituale Romanum used to be the only text the Church would allow for a valid exorcism, and although newer texts are now permitted, it remains the most commonly used among exorcists, including myself.

Friday, 12 April 2013

The Soul has its Abode in the Blood

Dear Bishop Manchester, I have recently seen the"Bram Stoker's Dracula" movie on TV again and it has lead me to the following question: In your writings, as I understand them, you describe the vampire as an undead corpse 're-animated' by Satan and as a demonic entity without a soul. Bram Stoker however described Dracula turning into a vampire in his lifetime (eg without dying beforehand) and also suggests that the Count retains his former personality (searches for his lost love etc), albeit in a more 'evil' form. This leads me to the question if there are different kinds of vampires and if it is possible for someone to be 'changed' into a vampire without dying before and if there are also vampires that retain at least parts of their former individual personality (and maybe of their soul)? Thanks for replying. Best regards.  Patrick.

Dracula (1897) was thoroughly researched using works of non-fiction about folklore and vampirism, and Bram Stoker visited Highgate Cemetery on innumerable occasions where he took tea in the afternoon. He would have been aware of tales of the hobbs, ghosts and demons that abounded. Not surprisingly, perhaps, he fortuitously set the Westenra Tomb in the Western Cemetery at Highgate  the very section that was later identified as having a vampire contagion. The truth is invariably stranger than fiction, as Stoker undoubtedly knew, but his work is ultimately a novel, ie fiction, albeit one of the most read books in the world.

To answer your question, the intended victim of a real vampire might fall under its malignant influence, but it would not be possible for someone to "change" into one while still alive. Enjoyable though Francis Ford Coppola's Dracula (1992) might be as a cinematic experience, it is not a faithful retelling of Stoker's novel and, even if it had been, Bram Stoker's original Dracula is not a faithful account of real vampirism. That notwithstanding, there are elements in both film and book, mostly the latter, which ring true.

The soul of an afflicted person who assumes death following the predations of a demonic entity is an interesting one which I discuss in my concise vampirological guide, a copy of which I believe you already possess. I describe the undead as a fundamentally malevolent and parasitic force which manifests in corporeal form; a bloodsucking androgyne with foul appetites, and the most abhorrent and feared of all that dwells in the malign supernatural underworld.

To attribute human desires and personalities onto such a creature is a mistake, but it has been debated for centuries by clergy and demonologists as to what exactly has happened to the soul of an undead person.

The undead state is not, nor can it be, true death. Equally, it is not true life. It is a twilight condition between life and death from which there is only one release. Through exorcism the tormented soul is released to find the peace of death and the demonic aspect is cast out to a nether region. I hasten to add, that the demonic polluter cannot be destroyed, only sent back from whence it came. The host corpse will then return to its natural state, all superntaural effect having been removed, and appear as it should in death.

Not everyone will agree with me. Some subscribe to the view that vampiric spectres merely masquerade as the deceased and that the soul of the victim is not involved. This is an easier option for demonologists to adopt a perhaps and a more comfortable one theologically to explain, but I speak from personal experience and while the predatory wraith might very well assume different metamorphoses, it has the power to manifest as a corporeal form that is as tangible as you and I. William of Malmesbury in  the twelth century tells of evil men returning to walk the world after they had "died" and been interred. He credited this ability to the Devil who caused the corpse's reanimantion and vitality beyond the grave. The significance of blood cannot be underestimated for the soul has its abode in the blood as long as life lasts. In Leviticus 17: 14, the soul is identified with the blood, as it is in Genesis 9: 4; Deuteronomy 12: 23.