People worship the devil
"There is the devil, and he works"
Dean - The devil is not a cattle with horns, says Uwe Scharfenecker, Dean of the Catholic Dean's Office Heilbronn-Neckarsulm in an interview with Heike Kinkopf. The church was rightly preoccupied with the issues of exorcism and the “power of evil”.
Is there a devil
Uwe Scharfenecker: Yes. There is the devil. It exists and it works. But he's not a person. The church assumes that there is a power that wants to seduce people into evil. I am also convinced of that. But I prefer to speak of evil or of evil. You are not tempted to imagine something concrete like a cattle with horns.
How does the Church know that someone is possessed by the devil?
Scharfenecker: People have to speak in languages they don't know. He must have physical strength that are actually not available to him. He has to know things he can't know. If these traits come together and that person turns against God, the Church believes that he may be possessed.
This sounds ridiculous.
Scharfenecker: The church often runs the risk of exposing itself to ridicule. When we say: Jesus was born of a virgin. Or: The body does not rot in the earth, but the dead go to heaven with body and soul. For some, such statements are acceptable, others say: “This is ridiculous.” We as a church have to enter this terrain. Otherwise we should only be allowed to announce what is generally accepted.
Has anyone ever come up to you and said: I'm obsessed?
Scharfenecker: No. But there are times when someone feels pressured. He speaks of evil forces that work on his life, that rob him of sleep, hope and success. He believes in forces behind the scenes. He thinks: "Someone has cursed me."
How do you react to that?
Scharfenecker: I look for prayer with the person in question. Before that, I talk to him to find out exactly what the situation is like. In prayer we ask God to send his good spirit and drive out the powers of darkness.
Aren't people with mental anxiety better off with doctors?
Scharfenecker: That depends. If I have the impression that there may be a mental illness, I recommend seeing a doctor. But often it comes down to a specific problem in which people seek help from the Church and from no one else.
So the devil is a force that acts on people from the outside?
Scharfenecker: Yes, a power that people open to. We always have the option to decide: am I doing the good or the bad. The fact that man is threatened by evil is a Christian theme: at every baptism we pray that the child will be preserved from the forces of evil. Parents and godparents have to reject the evil. On Easter vigil we ask: Do you oppose evil? Do you oppose Satan?
What does evil look like?
Scharfenecker: Evil can show itself in a family that is divided. Where one word gives the other, until no one speaks to the other. Now, of course, you can say: this is something to which each individual contributes. The Church, however, assumes that man can be seduced, but that evil does not come from himself.
So the Vatican is rightly concerned with the subject of exorcism?
Scharfenecker: Yes, but you have to see the weighting. It is an exceptional case that, strangely enough, occurs much more frequently in Italy than in Germany. But satanic movements are also much stronger there than here, and belief in all its shades plays a much larger role.
Has it never occurred to you in your priestly ministry that someone is possessed by the devil and needs to be delivered by him?
Scharfenecker: No. Regardless of this, however, there is a risk that evil will become a marginal issue at all. That we no longer reflect: How do I actually live? What do I do with what I do?
Scharfenecker: Students bully students without realizing that I'm doing something bad, I'm causing another person to suffer. And that doesn't just happen in the school class, but also in the workplace. Everyone needs to know that evil is there and, if I'm not careful, it can determine my actions.
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