It’s time to scare the hell out of kids – POLL

Here’s an idea… require all students at Catholic schools to attend a course taught by an exorcist.

In Spain….

Students at Spanish college forced to take exorcism class

A publically funded college [!] in Spain has told students that it is compulsory to attend a course given by a priest who is an expert in exorcisms.

The University College of Barberán and Collán (Colegio Mayor Universitario Barberán y Collán) is connected to the public research institute Complutense University of Madrid, and is also funded by Spain’s Defence Ministry. [As I sit here in The Cupboard Under The Stairs I have images of Defense Against The Dark Arts classes.]

But some of its curriculum doesn’t seem quite typical of a publicly-funded institute.

The college is requiring its 196 students – who are all members of military families – to attend a theological conference focused on “the fields related to the devil, exorcisms, being possessed and hell”, according to newspaper El Diario.

A woman who answered the phone at the college told The Local that there was seminar about exorcism, but could not immediately confirm other details.

The seminar called “The Evil” is set to take place on Thursday evening and will be led by Father José Antonio Fortea Cucurull, author of such works as “Summa dæmoniaca” – a treatise on demonology which includes a manual for exorcists.


So… this is at a secular school getting public funding from the military in Spain.

How ’bout this in Catholic schools?

This could be “New Evangelization” with an edge.

I suspect it would drive a lot of students to confession and attendance at the Traditional Mass of the Holy Roman Catholic Church, along with an increase in devotions.  On the other hand, these dark things can something have an allure that might draw the unwary into bad things.  After all, the modern entertainment industry has turned spiritual evil into a punch line and the modern education system has turn our young people into a bunch of dopes.

So… what could go wrong?

Let’s have a quick poll.  Anyone can vote, but only registered readers can comment.

Requiring students to learn about the Nature of Evil, Hell, Demonology, Exorcisms is...

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Polycarpio says:

    First reaction, and my vote, was let’s have it. Although Father’s comments about the risk of luring in the unwary gave me pause, I think it is precisely the banalization of evil and the occult in pop culture that calls for a more serious look.

  2. visigrad says:

    Many years ago, while working with youth, I was privileged to know a priest who was considered an expert on Exorcism and the Occult. He was the technical advisor for the film The Exorcist. Father had the kids watch the film and then entertained questions. He addressed not only the true story behind the movie, but shared many of his own personal experiences….made your hair stand up !!
    Truly this was life changing for some. Those kids are now mamas and papas….but will bring up the experience to this day.

  3. Joseph-Mary says:

    Recently attended a talk by a priest exorcist provided by the campus Parish and presented at the local university to a standing room only crowd. And he gave lots of Catholic theology in his talk!

  4. Quanah says:

    I teach religion at a Catholic high school and this topic is hands down the one that elicits the most interest from students. The only other topics that come close are controversial ones such as sexual ethics. Because of this I think it would be wonderful if there were regular lessons – perhaps monthly – for teenagers with an exorcist. Fr. Z is right that there is a great allure especially since most students who ask about this are merely curious and do not necessarily believe it. Competency in this case is not simply a question of knowledge and experience, but how to properly instruct youth in a spiritually beneficial way who are not well-formed in the faith. For me this means putting everything in the context of the Cross, Christ’s saving grace, the efficacy of that grace, and the efficacy of the Church’s prayers, sacramentals, devotions, and various other practices in these matters.

  5. JKnott says:

    Many years ago also, someone gave me the book “The Demonologist” by the Warrens. They were Catholic. The husband in the team would investigate possible possessions and advise the priests. His wife was another story but a large portion of the book about their experiences caused them to give detailed warnings about fooling around with the occult, especially warning youth. They covered a multitude of dangers, and also spoke about the dangers they confronted in doing the work.
    Well….by the time I finished the book all I could think of doing was to grab my parents big, fancy Douay-Reims bible and stayed up all night reading. Best of all, that gorgeous bible had the whole Pre- Vatican II baptismal rite and I remember reading it over several times. What stood out was the explicit exorcism contained in the rite. It was so consoling to read that old rite and to reflect on the power of the Church and the sacraments over evil.
    All in all it was a sobering experience, but one that drew out love and gratitude for the Church. I would certainly recommend this class to youth, given the culture today.

  6. Br. Augustine of Nubia says:

    I taught my Catechism class a lesson on this topic and I found that it increased their devotion and attention to what the sacraments are. We are the Church Militant! Without understanding the power of the Mass and the sacraments we fight the evil one with blank cartridges. I think students have had enough of the wishy-washy stuff and they want the real deal.

    Groups like the Auxilium Christianorum are good in this fight.

  7. juergensen says:

    Great idea. When I was 27, I traveled to the maximum-security Georgia State Prison in Reidsville GA to take the deposition of an inmate, and have never forgotten what I saw and heard in there. It sent shivers up my spine. I thought then it would make the perfect field trip for teenagers. Wish I could take have taken my children there, but never had the chance.

  8. lmgilbert says:

    When I referred to the devil as real in the 5th grade CCD class I was teaching, I was astounded at how taken aback the kids were. Essentially, they all sat up and said, “Wait . . what!!!” This was in a traditional parish about fifteen years ago. No, I said, the devil is very real. There is no being with horns and a tail, I said. Artists have to depict him somehow, yet he is real.

    Here at ten years old they largely had not entered on the mortal combat they would encounter in a few years, nor were they prepared in the least for serious temptation. I wonder how many children are being swept into the infernal world of “LGBT” by virtue of not realizing that the thoughts that make them worry about themselves do not arise from within, but are whispered from without. Nor are they empowered with the knowledge that would have kept them chaste — simply to say “Begone, Satan, in the name and in the blood of Jesus Christ.”

    I suppose it is forty years ago now that an 8th grade girl came up to me after a charismatic prayer meeting to tell me she was being troubled with impure thoughts and asked what to do about it. I recommended the above command to be said with authority. She came up to me a week later to tell me with a smile, “It worked.”

    Yet this lore was our common patrimony till lately—lost now, together with many of our children. Our baptized and confirmed children are, or should be “soldiers of Christ.” Yet, if no one will give them weapons and instruct them in their use, how can they either fight or prevail?

  9. tako says:

    “In the spiritual exercises of Father Paul Segneri,
    written by Muratori, it is related that in Rome, a devil in
    the body of a man possessed, being asked how long he
    would remain in hell, began to beat his hand against a
    chair, and answered in a rage: Forever, forever ! At
    hearing this great sermon of two words, forever, forever,
    many students of the Roman seminary, who were present,
    made a general confession, and changed their lives.”
    From “Preparation for Death” by St. Alphonsus Liguori.

  10. Healingrose1202 says:

    At what age would this topic of instruction and discussion be most appropriate?

  11. Kathleen10 says:

    The Exorcist made a tremendous impression on me when it came out, geez Louise, how could it not. I’m scared to watch it TODAY. But the most scary aspect is that it is a reality, and we must have known that even then.
    Not long ago, about a year, in Indiana, was a family who had “odd things” happening in the house, in particular there was a problem with one of the children. The mother took the children to the local hospital for some reason, and while at the hospital, the child crawled up the wall, across the ceiling, and down again. The child had super-strength. This was observed and reported by a Social Worker and a ER nurse.
    Kids fall into Wicca, Tarot cards, Ouija boards, and all manner of evil. It would be far better to warn them about what they are playing with and what is waiting for an opportunity.

  12. Healingrose1202 says:

    From my understanding, the Classical Roman Rite uses exorcism as part of many prayers and Sacraments. It seems like much of this has been lost in transition from the “Old” to the “New”.

    When we fail to put on our armor, what happens when we come under attack… If someone does not know how to identify the enemy, how then can they recognize that there is a very real threat waiting to take advantage by any means possible of the unprotected?

    How amazing is the power of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! How blessed are we to receive Him in the Eucharist! How blessed we are to have the Sacraments! I don’t know about you, but I do not want watered down, discount faith when arming myself. For example, how can some claim the awesome power of the Eucharist when so many undermine it and show disrespect for the Holy Sacrifice? When we become unrepentant and slowly desensitized to sin, we move farther from the Lord’s protection and vulnerable to the enemy. Kids are the future, who better to teach the reality of exorcisms?

    I don’t think people realize how much we are spiritually at war. Much goes on around us that most eyes cannot see.

    Guard with prayer, especially The Rosary. Guard with the Sacrament of Confession and honest repentance. Guard by receiving the Sacrament of Holy Eucharist with humility and respect.

  13. Viaticum says:

    What could go wrong? In a word: Jesuits.

  14. Absit invidia says:

    I taught this to Confirmation Class I volunteered for and caught a lot of hell for it – no pun intended.

  15. roma247 says:

    I feel like there should really be a fourth choice which is a middle road between yes, fantastic idea and no one but priests and exorcists should study this.

    I think it is terribly important to be careful about these things, as obsession is a far more present evil than possession–simply because it is easier to fall into. Opening the minds of the young to the presence of these things *can* leave them open to this danger. One could ostensibly argue that in the face of the occult fad we are enduring, that at least this could act as a counterbalance, but that is not universally true.

    Should young people learn about the reality of hell? Hell yes. (Sorry, couldn’t resist.) Should they learn how dangerous the occult can be? Yes. Demonology…maybe, maybe not. On the one hand, it can be helpful to see Screwtape behind the many little influences in our lives, but on the other hand, some people are highly susceptible either to seeing demons in everything, or to being an easier target because a door has been opened that should have remained shut.

    Should a field like this only be open to priests and exorcists? Surely not. But it should not be openly taught to all. It is not reliably prophylactic.

  16. JabbaPapa says:

    This is a ghastly, terrible idea.

    There is a Discipline in the Church regarding the Devil which states that only Bishops, exorcists, and those having had direct personal confrontations with the Devil can have access to certain types of knowledge about him.

    This is because the knowledge itself is extremely dangerous, and when it is misunderstood it can VERY easily be manipulated by the Devil or by a demon into an occasion of evil and as a means of demonic influence into the lives of innocents.

  17. JabbaPapa says:

    sorry — and *some* theologians ; and a Confessor within the Seal of Confession by Virtue of the Graces of protection that this Sacrament provides against Evil.

  18. Clinton R. says:

    For certain most Catholic universities could use an exorcism with all the reiki, labyrinths, muslim prayer spaces, LGBT groups, pro abortionists, and the like that exists on those campuses. For secular schools, an exorcism should be a given. As for educating students on the subject, I think it just might lead some to a serious look at the state of their souls and where some might end up if they continue as they are. I have read St. Robert Bellarmine’s Hell and Its Torments. Hell is frightening indeed and satan greatly desires to have our souls there. We should be made aware of the enemy and all his snares.

  19. Kerry says:

    Noticing the verb above, students “forced”; at public schools, including especially the malaprop’d higher ed schools in the U.S., how many students are “forced to”_____? Please fill in the blank.

  20. Grumpy Beggar says:

    . . . Always a good idea to say a prayer for those who live with a family member suffering from possession (and/or obsession). It’s not easy for them at all. A look up close and personal with demonic possession would, more often than not, scare the hell out of more than just a kid.

    That being said, where there is tentativeness surrounding decision on a course of action, say, on whether children should be taught in Catholic schools about the nature of Evil, Hell, demonology, exorcism, I might vote for praying on it rather than pray for voting on it.

    A knowledge, a belief that evil Personified does exist, is essential. Not even the story of Adam and Eve makes sense without it; actually, the entire Bible would never make sense without it. Most of us had at least those basics when we were kids. . . and we survived. I would rather learn the Rosary first before delving into the more corporeal manifestations of the devil. . .go in there with some armor on. So what if kids (Catholic kids) don’t pray today- then what ?

    Parents need to be the first educators of their children on spiritual matters – without that, degree of difficulty increases. Children need to be taught to pray first. The rest just kind of follows naturally.

    1 John 2: 13 b [NAB] “. . . I am writing to you young men , because you have conquered the evil one.”

    How do you “conquer the evil one” if you don’t know who he is . . . accidentally run over him while you’re backing out of the driveway ?

    Demonic possession can literally make life a living Hell for some families. Yet for the wreaking of large scale damage, Satan’s modus operandi relies more on remaining hidden, on our denial of his existence or our indifference towards it. After the tabernacle where our Blessed Lord dwells in the most Holy Sacrament of thre altar, the second most holy place on earth is a mother’s womb. Today, the mother’s womb has effectively become an altar of sacrifice to Satan.

    If Catholics prayed, abortion wouldn’t be as pervasive as it is today. If parents prayed, their children would naturally emulate them and pray too.

    Teach cildren in school about the nature of Evil, Hell demonology, exorcism – in the hope that they will pray. . . ? . . .


    Teach children to pray first.

    Prayer. With prayer, we will know God , and He will show us the enemy.

  21. Robert_H says:

    I had a hard time choosing between “fantastic idea” and “imprudent idea,” but ultimately decided on imprudent. I do think it is imprudent for the laity, especially teens and young adults, to *study* these devilish topics.

    Passing familiarity, so that one can be forewarned and thus forearmed? Sure. But study? I think that is imprudent.

    Phil. 4:8-9 (DRB):

    8For the rest, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever modest, whatsoever just, whatsoever holy, whatsoever lovely, whatsoever of good fame, if there be any virtue, if any praise of discipline, think on these things. 9The things which you have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, these do ye, and the God of peace shall be with you.

  22. chantgirl says:

    As a 12 or 13 year-old girl, my fellow girl scouts decided to use a Ouija board to try to contact one girl’s dead sibling during one of our campouts. I left the room and went to talk to the troop leaders because I had been warned about such things. Children need to be warned about things that could harm them , but prudence should guide how much detail we give them.

  23. PostCatholic says:

    * A silly idea, just as there’s no invisible friend there’s no invisible enemy.

  24. arga says:

    Father, there is a fundamental misunderstanding here. A “colegio” in Spain is not a “college” as we understand the word in English. It is a residential facility for university students. It is normally associated with a university (in this case the Complutense in Madrid) but it is an entirely private association, although in this particular case the college in question receives some funding from the Ministry of Defense because it is a residence for dependents of armed services members. Other funds come from monthly fees paid by the residents.

  25. Raymond says:

    The Spanish military is one of the few remaining bastions of conservative, practicing-Catholic Spaniards. What is significant about this initiative is that the Complutense University of Madrid is currently the hot-bed of the new populist, anti-establishment, extreme-left Podemos Party.

    When I worked in Madrid as a public school English teacher, most of my colleagues were Socialist Party sympathizers. But since I’m a practicing Catholic conservative, I spent lots of my free time with my fellow right-wing friends who came mainly from military families and/or were Opus Dei members/sympathizers. Opus Dei priests would hold weekly or monthly meditations and days of recollection in military base chapels all over Madrid (and probably all over Spain as well), which I attended on many occasions.

    Spain has become increasingly anti-Catholic in the past few years. But just as French Catholicism is primarily kept alive by Traditionalist groups, the Spanish Church is mainly supported by Opus Dei and Neocatechumenal Way members and sympathizers.

  26. Janol says:

    I could not vote. I do not see an entire course devoted to the subject, however, I would like to see a course on the subject of “Person, Spirit, and Soul” or such, in which one class assignment might be to watch a well-made video presentation by an exorcist (only) on exorcism, possession, oppression, obsession, etc., and how to arm oneself against evil. Ideally this video presentation would be available on the internet and which those interested could access by themselves again, and again to let it sink in. And then there could be a follow up exam to see if they can clearly explain the different points presented.

    I mention “Person, Spirit, and Soul” because it would be good for people to know that they have different faculties and to know how they work! And how they can be weakened and attacked. And how they can be strengthened and even “supernaturalized”! Grace!

    I think the presentation should be done only by an exorcist beacause he has a credibility no other person has, and has the sang-froid and extraordinary knowledge about the whole subject no other person has and which is “awesome” in itself. He himself in his very sang-froid and matter-of-fact manner exhibits that the Church has power over the Evil One and is not shaken or impressed by the diabolic.

  27. Precentrix says:

    I assume that Father would be prudent enough to teach the basics of spiritual warfare (yes, we’re at war) without going off into the sorts of things that shouldn’t be talked about. The devil is real, he is intelligent, he is powerful – but he has lost. We need to be aware of the influence that he and his cohorts have… and the power that they don’t have over us, as Christians. We need to know the weapons we have, the everyday prayers that have sadly been dropped by many people, the use of sacramentals… we need to recognise temptations, including presumption and scrupulosity. And sometimes, we need to know that talking to our priest is the right thing to do, and the only thing that can help us.

    People, get your homes blessed.

  28. Kent Wendler says:

    If one doesn’t wish to wait for such a seminar to be available reasonably nearby one could read a copy of “Demons, Deliverance, Discernment : Separating Fact from Fiction about the Spirit World” by Fr. Mike Driscoll, available through Amazon (by way of Fr. Z’s link, of course).

  29. mike cliffson says:

    I d0n’t like the wording : I voted, not wholeheartedly, for the first , but it’s not “fantastic” so much as probably very necessary , terrible indeed but not in the sense of being an illjudged plan of action by whomsoever came up with it. I know a priest who a good while back accepted an invitation to public speech on the nature of the demonic, he said never , ever again – overdwelling on the devil is perilous, and a danger particularly but not only for the callow , shallow, or presumptious.
    But there is a nasty, silenced , undercurrent of satanic practice which has grown up in modern Spain – how much it is important for anyone with future civil authority to know ABOUT that as well as to know OF the existence as such of Satan and devilworship, I am totally incompetent to discern .

  30. Semper Gumby says:

    It can be overdone, but there is a lot to be said for forewarned is forearmed. So my vote went to option 1, provided teachers are faithful and competent.

    Various news sources are reporting that Satanic groups such as the Satanic Temple are seeking permission, or have already obtained permission, to pass out free Satanic coloring books at schools in two counties in Colorado and Florida.

    In Delta County CO, because Gideon bibles are available free to students, two groups – Western CO Atheists and Freethinkers and the FFRF- are distributing Satanic Temple and atheist literature. (See “Westword” – an info. website for the Denver area. Article titled: “Delta Schools Will Get Satanic Coloring Books on April 1 — No Joke”).

    One coloring book is “The Satanic Children’s Big Book of Activities.” Sample: “Damian is showing his class the way to make an inverted pentagram. Connect the dots to make one yourself.” One of these web articles has a link to the “shopsatan” website (miniature Baphomet statues are available) to purchase this coloring book if it is not yet available for free.

    The Prayer to St. Michael, or Fr. Z’s Internet Prayer, is excellent when researching this topic.

    Great headline to this post Fr. Z.

  31. Imrahil says:

    What roma247 and Robert H said.

    I too settled on imprudent, in the end.

    Sure, give a report on exorcism at the appropriate place, without decrying it as superstitious bogus. But I don’t think it would be helpful to go into detail.

    I remember seeing Emily Rose in my youth, after which I could only sleep because we had memorized Psalm 23 in religion class that day.

  32. KateD says:

    Yes!!! But only if the class is taught by an exorcist. So there are enough to go around, each of us should send a $2500 check and a round trip plane ticket to Rome to our bishops earmarked for the training up an exorcist. We will need them in the years to come as the Harry Potter generation, fed a regular diet of gruesome violence and occultism via tv and video games, comes of age.

    Let the kids know what they are up against and for goodness sake, give them the armor they need by allowing those students who are ready, to receive all their sacraments regardless of their age. We don’t send a child out on a cold day without a coat, why would one send them into the spiritual battlefield this world has become without all the sacraments and sacramentals available. It’s like handing them over to the enemy…Give them a fighting chance.

  33. Filipino Catholic says:

    If I might be so bold as to use a scientific analogy, one must exercise great care in studying such a dark topic. It is like a black hole — you can certainly orbit it, but a distance must be kept, for too close an approach and you risks being inexorably drawn into the darkness.

  34. JabbaPapa says:

    I have just watched the astonishing BBC adaptation of Shakespeare’s King Henry VI Part I, in its Hollow Crown series, and a better portrait of Satanic influence in this world of our flesh is extremely hard to imagine.

    The Catholicity of the play, and its outright almost explicit condemnation of the Anglican Heresy in its diabolic origin, is portrayed with an intrinsic fidelity to Shakespeare’s Catholic Faith that is not marred even by its very slight mis-portrayal of Saint Jehanne of Arc.


    This is the sort of instruction that we and our children need about Satan and his works, and not some manner of dogmatic instruction that might lead us directly into his snares of sin.

  35. Federico says:

    It’s a terrible idea.

    There is a reason why Holy Mother Church reserves the role of exorcist and associated studies to priests who are very holy, prudent, and well educated. It is because the evil one exploits knowledge about himself (and the fascination Fr. Z mentioned) to lure in as many souls as possible. He is the king of lies and uses small knowledge to build on. It is no accident that many good exorcists end up falling, it’s a phenomenally dangerous line of work.

    If you want to scare kids, teach about the reality of hell. That ought to keep them awake at night!

  36. Legisperitus says:

    I agree with Filipino Catholic and the others who would advise caution while approving of the idea generally. The teacher should be an exorcist and give all warnings that are needed (e.g., “Never engage the devil in conversation,” as the late Fr. John Hardon, S.J., advised in his lecture series “Angels and Demons.”)

    It’s also a good idea to teach about the good angels as well as the bad, so students can turn their focus upon their defenders, St. Michael and the guardian angels, instead of thinking only about the dark side of the angelic world. It was the ex-Jesuit former exorcist Malachi Martin, I believe, who said in his Irish way that “the demonic is like a bowel movement: it has to be dealt with occasionally, but it’s not to be thought about.”

  37. Sonshine135 says:

    I think it’s a great idea. Too an people believe in a nondescript afterlife, or in a heaven, but not hell. Hell is real, and until you can acknowledge that an enemy exists, you can’t fight against it.

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