Pope to Receive Victims of Black Magic and Sects

Four Million Italian Families Affected

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ROME, DEC. 22, 2000 (ZENIT.org).- Tomorrow morning, the Holy Father hold a special audience for the victims of black magic and sects.

The «Anti-Witchcraft Telephone» group calculates that in Italy alone 4 million families suffer from the influence of «false saviors.» The average age of victims is 45, and 58% are women. Education statistics show 46% with elementary school education, 39% with high school diplomas and 15% with college degrees.

In response to these statistics, volunteers for the group are collecting signatures to reinstate a law making witchcraft a crime. The previous law was repealed by the Constitutional Tribunal in 1981. Their efforts are often met by derision and attack, but they maintain that they are only trying to provide help and support for those who are suffering under such influences.

The volunteer group, together with the Faculty of Psychology of the University of Cagliari, have conducted another study on a sample of 4000 students of the upper level schools of Cerdeña. Although results have not yet been published, Giovanni Panunzio, professor of religion and coordinator of the association, told Zenit, «A early result we can expect is really surprising. Until now, practitioners of magic were approached because of a problems of health, emotions, or other difficulties. Now most people go to them without a specific problem. Instead, they want to receive a generic ´protection´ as a preventative measure. Personalized charms and good luck pieces are bought at high prices — between $150 and $450 or more — the same way a life insurance policy is bought.»

«These results reveal great personal insecurity, little confidence in the future, and extremely low self-esteem» explained Panunzio. «There is no reason to think that the success of users of black magic manifests a demand for spirituality. We are dealing with materialism — a search for easy solutions to personal problems.»

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