“I have personally had many, many experiences of people coming to me,” with issues that stemmed from something initially thought to be innocuous, he said.
The modern appeal of paganism may stem from Christianity’s early roots, the priest said. When Christianity first spread to pagan areas--Ireland, France, etc.--the people who lived there were incredibly superstitious. Christianity was able to provide a sort of spiritual reassurance.
"Christianity always has good news, and the good news is that the devil is overcome," he said.
Now, he said, as people have begun to turn away from the message of Christ’s lordship, and have begun to “glorify their own reason and understanding,” Christianity has become less appealing--and people return to the superstitious practices of long ago.
A lack of faith in the Christian God coupled with the “very hedonistic society” of modern times adds to the appeal of the supposed quick fix of magic, he said.
“Anything we want, we have to have right away,” he said.
“I mean, if I suffer, I need to have a solution. Even if you go to a hospital, you look at the chart and they always ask you 'how do you feel from one to 10?' and if you feel that your pain is too high, they will pump you with opioid painkillers.”
These comments were echoed by Fr. Thomas Petri, O.P., vice president and academic dean at the Dominican House of Studies.
Petri told CNA that he did not find it surprising that some people who have turned away from Christianity would turn toward pagan worship.
“Man is essentially a religious animal who seeks meaning beyond the ordinary and so is prone to worship powers beyond himself,” he explained.
The increase of self-identfied "witches" could also be as a result of Satan, he said, who “is actively at work in the world seeking to drive as many people away from salvation in Christ as he can.” Satan, he said, does this “under the guise of principalities and powers that some people think are more novel and powerful than Christ.”
“Sadly, they couldn’t be more wrong and they need our prayers.”
This article was originally published on CNA Oct. 28, 2018.