I subscribe to the Catholic Spiritual Direction blog though I don’t often have time to read it. Yesterday, though, the title of its article, “Can Demons Unite to Influence Society?” caught my attention. I know you are not meant to mention “demons” in polite society because it makes you sound – well, at best, rather old-fashioned and conservative, and at worst one of those over-the-top evangelical types (and Catholics don’t want to be associated with them, do they?)
Anyway, I wanted to know the answer to the question. According to Fr Jose Antonio Fortea, who is an official exorcist, the answer is yes, they can. He writes that the demons’ greatest power lies in tempting us to sin: “They know very well that certain individuals have the ability to influence society as a whole because of their wealth, fame or power.” As the communications media are a powerful influence on today’s society, the demons target the media.
Fr Fortea makes an interesting historical observation: “In the German election of 1932, the demons understood perfectly well that their goals would be better served by tempting the German people to vote for a rather unknown, fringe candidate named Adolf Hitler. Does this mean that Hitler’s rise to power can be attributed solely to demonic forces?” He answers no, rightly, because “Human choice was involved”. He points out that the ancient remedies of prayer and sacrifice are vital in our battle with the Father of Lies and his minions: “They are a bulwark against the powers of hell in this world…”
The article reminds us (just in case readers think this whole subject is quite bizarre) that “though we must do battle in this invisible struggle with spiritual powers, we should always remember that in the exercise of our free will we are the authors of our own destiny. The demons can only influence us to the extent that we let them. In the end, we do what we choose and are ultimately responsible for these choices.”
An instance where a powerful individual made a choice for good rather than evil comes from LifeSiteNews. The article, by Robert P George, is titled “Hotels and the pornography plague: an example of moral responsibility from Scandinavia”. It shows how unthinkingly prejudiced I am because I was startled to think that the free and easy, uninhibited and tolerant Nordic races might make a moral stand against pornography. But it seems that Petter Stordalen, owner of Nordic Hotels, one of Scandinavia’s largest chains, who has been involved in the international struggle to outlaw the appalling practice of trafficking women and girls into sexual slavery, has now announced that pornography will no longer be offered to his customers on TV channels in his hotel bedrooms.
Mr Stordalen stated that “The porn industry contributes to trafficking, so I see it as having a social responsibility to send out a clear signal that Nordic Hotels doesn’t support or condone this.” Good for him. Those who think that watching pornography is merely “adult” entertainment are reluctant to make the link between this sleazy and morally degrading activity in which women are exploited and objectified and the real-life exploitation of women. But as the article’s author points out, “The porn industry is corrupt through and through, inherently so. It should come as no surprise that it is connected to something as exploitative, degrading and dehumanising as human trafficking.”
The link is clear to Petter Stordalen. In their desire to win human souls away from Christ, the demons use every means they can – and pornography is a prime way of persuading men and women that they are merely objects of lust rather than children of God. In exercising his free will to make a choice for good Stordalen demonstrates how one individual’s moral stand can make a huge difference. Pretending that pornography is harmless for adults is a lie; as Shakespeare’s Hotspur puts it in Henry IV part 1: “O, while you live tell the truth and shame the devil!” Stordalen has done just that.