Carlo Climati, an expert in the phenomenon of satanism among young people, spoke with ZENIT this week at the “Exorcism and Prayer of Liberation" course held at Rome's Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum. At a time when Harvard University is allowing a 'Satanic Black Mass' on its campus, Climati sheds light on what satanology really is, why youth get involved, and whether there is a way out. He also shares personal stories to show how satanology can sometimes give a false impression of comfort to those who are vulnerable and clarified common misperceptions on the topic.
How important is this type of conference?
Climati: It’s important because we need to talk about these topics in the right way, without shouting, without setting off alarms, without sensationalizing.
How can this be achieved?
Climati: We need to be positive. We need to say what is true and what is not, because not all the youth and the young people are bad. Rather the phenomenon of satanism tends to be for people who have problems in their lives, who suffer from poor communication within their family, and other personal problems.
What message do you communicate during the course?
Climati: I try to explain what happens in the lives of young people. I have met many young people who have come to me sharing the personal stories related to satanism and their past experiences. So, personally, I don’t speak about exorcisms. I don’t know anything about them because I am a lay person. I am married and I don’t know anything about it. I am not a priest.
What should people realize about satanism?
Climati: From my experiences with young people, we talk about life and about hope because satanism is something that destroys hope in the lives of young people. It gives a pessimistic view of life. It is a way to destroy all the good values of all the people in the world.
For example, you need to realize that life is not 'so bad.' There are many good things in life. However, satanism teaches the opposite. It teaches that life is like a jungle where only the strong survive and the problem is that young people are not ready. Sometimes young people cannot handle this because they are struggling with difficulties in their lives or problems in the family.
They believe in satan as an ‘angel,’ as a ‘friend,’ as something to help them have a different life. This is very dangerous because satan cannot be a good friend because it gives a very different view of life. It is not the real the real version of life, which shows life has good things.
Satanism teaches against forgiveness. Satanism says you don’t have to forgive people because people don’t deserve it
How could this conference help people? How can people receive help after a satanic experience?
Climati: I think we should listen much more to young people. We should create a bridge between us in them. Especially in Italy, in Rome, we see groups of young people gathered together, wearing blacking, wearing satanic symbols like the upside-down cross.
We don’t have to be scared and we don’t have to condemn young people but we should try to ask ourselves why there is this this behavior. Personally, in Rome, when I had written some books years ago on these topics, many times I went to speak to these young people, especially in this place called Campo di Fiori, there are some groups. They go there, they simply stay there together. However, they believe. They say that they believe in satan. They hate the Bible. However, they don’t do anything bad.
Do you have thoughts as to why young people get involved in satanism?
Climati: Behind every young satanist, for me, there is someone who is searching for God and spirituality. They look for something but they have taken a bad path because something has happened in their life. Many young people have these experiences. They become very dark and pessimistic. They hate life. They hate people.
Sometime young people go to the cemetery and destroy things, but this is not the real the problem. The real problem is that satanism is something you do to yourself. It occurs generally alone, not with others. It is not a sect, a cult. Young people, sometimes, start to develop an interest listening to some music or go to some websites. They are not prepared to read these things, which go to their head, and create confusion.
Personally, I like to speak to young people, especially because I am also a musician and I played music for many years. I am not one of those who say rock is all satanic music, but I try to talk to with them as there is a little part of music which does have satanic elements. So, I like to talk to the young people, who realize that since I was a musician for many years and understand the culture, that I am not out to ‘condemn them.’ It’s very interesting to speak about the messages that come from music.
There are some good associations which help young people, for example, GRIS, it’s one of the organizers of this course at Regina Apostolorum, helps young people. It’s a good association of the Catholic Church. So, it’s good. Many young people have a time in their life in which they are interested in satanism and occultism but it’s only a part of the life, but then maybe they look for God, something very good.
Many of those young people who had those feelings become Catholic. They are searching. This is part of the search. This is what I believe. Maybe someone may have a different opinion, but this is what I see from talking with them. In every satanist, there is a sensibility. They are not stupid. They are not people who hate for no reason. They are people who suffer for some reason. I deeply believe in this. So I believe it’s good to listen, to be near young people because many people are alone.
For a family or person that does not know what to do, what would you recommend?
A family can simply understand that there can be some moments in which you need to recognize some signs of a mourning or depression. Then you can recognize it and speak with the person feeling that way. You can ask for the help of a good organization, such as GRIS. GRIS, an organization of the Catholic church, has many volunteers who help.
It’s very interesting. It’s very interesting to see that many people are able to escape this path. It’s very good because people start different lives.
Do you have any personal experiences relating to satanism?
I am very optimistic because I am someone who -- although I had never been a satanist -- in my youth, when I was very young, about 13, I was very ill with a terrible back condition. I was very alone and was in the hospital for about a year. At that time, I was far from the Church because I saw in the hospital a lot of people suffering, especially young people like me, so I did not believe in God. I thought that God was bad, not god. I was not a satanist but someone who was against God. I was blasphemous. I was very sad in those days, but then I understood. So I was able to get out of this dark period ... I was searching, looking for something in myself. I was not bad for feeling this way.
Music helped me because when I was playing music I was able to meet people. I was not alone. When I was ill, I was alone because I had the back brace and couldn’t do what other people did.
So I’ve been far from the Church. I understand when someone says I hate God because I also had a time in my life in which I hated God. I could not understand why there were was so much suffering in the world, especially when I would see the young children on the hospital who were very sick with very serious problems.
Can you recall an example of someone who has experimented in this world?
Climati: I remember well being approached after one of my conferences b y a young man of 18 or 19, who wanted to speak with me. He had said there was a period of time in which he was interested in satanism. He had been very Catholic, but then he had a crisis because in his family, his father wanted to be an honest person and he lost his work because he wouldn’t compromise his moral code. When his father lost his job, the young man had a crisis. His mother had said to the father: "don’t be so honest and good". This led to a crisis in the family, because the father was not willing to be dishonest. The family was crashing. The young man said: "But what is life if my father loses work for being honest?"
This situation had a damaging effect on his heart. He started believing things that life is something in which only bad people can have success. So he became interested in satanism, though only for a few months, because satanism has this exact message, this mentality.
Then the crisis of his family was solved. His father found other work. It’s interesting, though, that he wanted to tell me this story. He said: "I was not bad, but for some time I believed in satan."
He didn’t do anything bad. He didn’t kill anyone. He didn’t go to the cemetery. But, he was becoming satanic in his philosophy of life. Yet, he was able to turn his life around. Later, he was a volunteer. His family told me that he went to Mozambique. So, he had a good experience. He was able to totally change his life.
Is participating in satanism sustainable, long-term?
Most people cannot be happy as satanists. They normally have an interest in escaping it and can change. Satanism is not a condition in which people can be really happy because it’s really dark. People need to be together. We need to listen much more to people to young people to know, to know why they participate.
For example, in Rome, there are many walls which have satanic graffiti. I ask myself why does someone go to do this in the night? We need to ask, we need to know why. They play with fire sometimes because there’s not just satanism, there’s also occultism, spiritism, etc.
How is satanism different than occultism?
Climati: Occultism is something that is magic. It’s simply trying to use magic to reach power through magic rituals, but it’s not about satan. You can also try to believe in magic and different forms of it. I personally think it's not good anyway, because it acts as though effort is unnecessary. Things take effort in life...You need to work, you need to study. But, with magic, you think you can reach something without it. For example, if you want a girl to fall in love with you, you can do so by magic.
It, however, is very different than satanism which is very bad and has something about it which is inherently dangerous.
Overall, what is your impression about whether those suffering from these conditions can be helped?
We are very positive. You see that all the views represented in the course are positive and are helpful, especially to priests, which is very important because often times when families have problems they go to a priest, saying I need help. So a priest must be prepared on how to react, so it’s great that there are so many priests here.
Priests can be a big help, but they must be prepared. They need to understand how things happen. So this is a good course because it gives a very, very good perspectives, including those of doctors and priests, offering a lot of help.