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Australian Media on Paganism

Forces of Darkness are real: Hickey

26th March, 2000 (The Sunday Times)

TEEN witch TV shows encourage youngsters to dabble dangerously in the occult, the head of the Catholic Church in Perth claims.

The Most Reverend Barry Hickey says satanic covens are well-established in WA and he believes witchcraft is increasing.

And he is concerned that popular TV shows such as Charmed, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Sabrina the Teenage Witch could encourage children to play with the occult and the netherworld.

"The devil and evil are very real forces," Archbishop Hickey said.

"They are not figments of the human imagination.

"Dark forces do exist.

"It is almost fashionable to dabble but people can get their fingers burnt or worse.

"If you do try to summon up forces beyond this world, you are more likely to summon up demonic forces than good angels."

The Archbishop said the high-rating television shows were innocent if treated only as entertainment.

"If they remain as simple fun with no belief then I suppose they are innocent, but there is a worrying trend among young people to go further," he said.

"Parents must be aware of this and warn their children of the dangers of the devil and evil."

Channel 7 program director Jamie Martinovich said witch shows rated well.

"These are good, fun family programs and should be taken in the right spirit," he said. "I have not seen any evidence of an occult following or that teenagers take them seriously."

But the Archbishop is concerned about television playing with dark forces as a means of creating controversy or making money.

"The occult is not something any community plays with or makes money out of," he said. "The forces we are dealing with here are extremely powerful and to play with them is to begin to gamble with the future of civilised society.

"What is particularly worrying is that the exploration of this territory is occurring among young people, many of whom will not be aware of the strength and power of the forces they are engaging with."

The WA co-ordinator of the Pagan Alliance, a retired teacher known only as Michelin, backed the Archbishop.

"I thoroughly agree with him,' she said.

"These programs must only be treated as entertainment.

"Young people must be aware that they cannot go round putting spells and curses on others. They will come back and bite you."

University of WA psychology professor Kevin Durkin said parents should be aware of what children were viewing.

But he said: "I wonder how strong the evidence is that people suffer from problems after watching these kind of shows.

"I doubt that most young girls in Perth believe they can summon up the devil after watching a few television shows," he said.

Archbishop Hickey said that in the past three years, two women had told him of their struggles to break free of covens to which they were introduced as children. One had broken away only at great personal cost.

"She was attacked more than once by members concerned she would spill the beans," he said. "These women have told me that if priests hear stories of covens and witchcraft to believe them because they happen.

"I hear about coven meetings that occur and stories of child abuse and sexual practices."

Page Updated 2nd April, 2000
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