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On the way to Fatima last week, Pope Benedict XVI boldly clarified that the crisis in Catholicism is not so much a persecution from the outside (although certainly our enemies have lavished in the scandals) but due to evil from within. Moreover, he said it was "truly terrifying."

Finally, we can say -- with the Pope's words as our backdrop -- that the crisis was caused more than anything by the demonic.

It is evil -- not a personality quirk -- that terrifies.

At the root of the Church "crisis" is not politics or religion nor psychology -- it is not really sociological -- so much as it is the simple, glaring, yet all-but-unmentioned fact that during the evil spirits infiltrated the priesthood. We were warned by Christ that there would be "wolves in sheep's clothing," and while this is not to cast all those accused as abusers as consciously or fully evil, the devil had at least partial sway over their thought processes and arrogance and undeveloped emotions).

We were infiltrated.

Satan moved in along with the "smoke" of modernism and intellectualism in the wake of Vatican Two. "Sexual liberation was a strong wind blowing through the modern world when Pope John XXIII opened the windows of the Catholic Church to let in some fresh air," notes one author. "Pastoral considerations based upon the latest psychological fads led priests to permit previously forbidden sexual behavior."

Indeed, the "air" was now filled with sex, sex, sex -- respect for that, not for celibacy -- as well as psychobabble. Who is the "prince of the power of the air"? As one former priest put it, "they opened the windows of their minds to admit fresh air, which eventually blew many of them out of their ministries."

Such is the fruit of compromise with the world.

No new springtime.

Outside was a tornado.

It didn't help, as this former priest points out -- that "in 1972 a watershed event took place. Prior to that, candidates for the priesthood received from their bishop the four minor orders of porter, lector, exorcist, and acolyte. Under the new reform, the orders of porter, exorcist, and subdeacon were eliminated. Since then, not every priest is ordained with the power to act as an exorcist" [our italics]. According to the John Jay Report commissioned by the Church to evaluate the abuse crisis in 2004, the distribution of reported cases by the year the abuse is alleged to have occurred or begun shows a peak in the year 1970 and "more abuse occurred in the 1970s than any other decade, peaking in 1980.

"The majority of priests with allegations of abuse were ordained between 1950 and 1979 (68 percent)."

In other words, our young priests were naked and without knowledge of exorcism against the enemy -- even though Jesus Himself constantly exorcised.

There were several ways that Satan made headway.

The sex revolution at once emboldened those with homosexual inclinations to act out this temptation (as everyone else in the "world" was acting out lust) and the Church became a safe haven for males who were unsure of their sexuality and not likely to marry (no one would question why they didn't marry. A shortage of candidates -- again caused by the revolution of lust -- forced seminaries to accept these men who were questionable while the devil tricked many normal masculine priests into thinking they were homosexual (by instilling false first thoughts).

Linking the abuse crisis with homosexuality is not something the Church should run from but emphasize, for this puts society -- and much of the "world" -- on the defensive. It is also the truth.

That sets us free and now the Church will recover -- with miraculous speed -- if it is shepherded back to roots of the Real Presence and exorcism and Marian devotion -- as displayed at Fatima and other places where available to us is the aid of that Woman who "crushes" the "prince" of this world (and where an apparition of an angel preceded the Blessed Mother, an angel who administered the Precious Blood).

Very powerful against him: prayers while the wine is consecrated.

Let us think of this term: Satan is described in the New Testament as the "prince of this world" and also the "ruler" of our planet -- and so it behooves us to approach him with the full armament of ancient Christianity.

That implies exorcism and deliverance.

If he is ruler of this world, we do poorly by compromising with worldliness. Instead, we cast out.

It is interesting to meditate on this idea of Satan as "prince" of the world.

How does this square with the fact that after His Resurrection -- after His victory over death, after His suffering -- Jesus was given "all authority in Heaven and on earth"?

Obviously, the devil still has power. In fact, it has grown since 1972.

But in the Name of Jesus -- by His authority -- we can cast evil out.

While there were demons before Jesus came (we see the sufferings caused by Satan in accounts like that of Job, and of course the snake in the Garden), nowhere in the Old Testament is the devil cast out.

That came -- exorcism -- with the Crucifixion.

We need to go back to the old ways. We need to revisit how the Church was in the first three centuries. We need to move away from dense convoluted teachings that bear scant spiritual direction. We need to speak not in spirals of thought but with the directness (and simplicity) of Jesus. Call it what it is. It isn't just "sin." It isn't just "temptation." It is also "Satan."

Intellectualism without mysticism has served us poorly.

The ancient way is engrained in our Church and while sometimes this trips us up (with modern media), for the most part it is greatly to our benefit. A mistake it is to attempt being with it by pretending Satan doesn't exist and embracing men like Darwin or Freud and lavishing praise on movies or rock musicians (as has occurred in the Vatican newspaper).

Forget it. We were not meant to be "with it."

Let us forsake the world and the modern way -- along with its prince, who no longer should have power over us.

 [resources: They Shall Expel Demons and Prayer of the Warrior]

[see also: The disaster psychology wreaked and Understanding same-sex attraction]

[Michael Brown retreat in Pittsburgh: preparing for the afterlife, protecting ourselves now]

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