VATICAN CITY, DEC. 24, 2000 (ZENIT.org).- Yesterday, as the world hurried to make final preparations for Christmas, John Paul II held a special audience hundreds of victims of cults and magic, along with their families.
In his comments, the Holy Father denounced the dangers and snares that threaten the faith, especially of simple folk, in today´s world.
“Are there not various abberant forms of religious sentiment that prey on the deepest needs and aspirations of the human spirit, proposing illusory and false perspectives for self-realization?” the Pope asked.
He continued by outlining the believer´s response to these groups. This reaction must be based on profound interior convictions, supported by “a firm renewal of pastoral commitment.”
“Only a profound faith, lived with coherence, can be an effective antidote to these dangerous deviations of religious sentiment and practice,” he explained.
The Italian newspaper “Il Messagero” reported Thursday that 20,000 “wizards” are active in Italy, alongside some 650 cults. It is estimated that over 4,000,000 Italians have been victimized in one way or another by these groups, which groups are not legal, yet still able to take out advertising in the newspapers to attract unsuspecting people.
The figures have increased sharply in recent years. Just two years ago, the Italian Ministry of the Interior reported that Italy had only 83,100 cultists belonging to 137 different groups.