Priest blasts Halloween as satanic
American holiday a big hit in Italy
According to Father Oreste Benzi, head of the Pope John XXII community, Halloween "has been imposed by an esoteric- satanic culture which induces the community to perform rituals of witchcraft, spiritualism and satanism which can even lead to ritual sacrifices and violence" .
"For satanists, Halloween is the most magic day in the year and during this night they perform black masses, esoteric-magical ceremonies and encourage witchcraft," he added .
"Christian parents and all those who believe in the values of life should know that Halloween is the adoration of Satan which has been disguised through games and parties for young people," he warned .
"On October 31, satanic rites are performed in deconsecrated churches and in many cemeteries. Communion wafers are stolen and places of our Christian tradition are violated," the priest continued. "I ask that the Catholic world in no way promotes or encourages this celebration of the macabre and horror. We at the Pope John XXIII community have been working for years to free the victims of occult sects," Father Benzi said .
Halloween is especially dangerous for young people because it "encourages an esoteric-magical mentality which seeks to subvert religion by attacking spiritual values and what is sacred through an initiation of occult arts and images," Father Benzi concluded .
The popularity of Halloween has soared in recent years, to rival Italy's traditional fun-loving post-winter Carnival, and now generates an estimated 250 million euros in business .
More than a million pumpkins are sold over the holiday while shops make a lucrative business out of gadgets, masks and costumes .
Although Halloween is considered an American import, there is a small town in the southeastern region of Puglia, Orsara di Puglia, which has been celebrating Halloween for the past 1,000 years .
According to local historians, the only real difference between the town's version of Halloween, which can be traced back to the period of the Longobard invasion, and the American tradition is the date .
Halloween, a secular take on All Hallows Eve, the night before All Saints Day, is traditionally celebrated on the night of October 31, but in Orsara di Puglia the pumpkins come out on the evening between November 1 and 2 .
According to local tradition, hollowed-out and candle-lit pumpkins are placed outside homes on the evening of All Saints Day to keep away evil spirits and witches .
Townsfolks also light huge bonfires in the streets so as to illuminate the path of souls on their way to Purgatory .
The day after All Saints Day, in fact, is All Souls Day .
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