The Church in Italy has called for Halloween to be scrapped and replaced with “Holyween”, a night in which children would attend prayer vigils and Masses.
The Vatican’s first official conference of exorcists, which met in Rome at the weekend, has warned of a danger to young people at Halloween, when it said there is an increase in occult activity.
Fr Aldo Buonaiuto, of the International Association of Exorcists (IAE) and director of a charity that assists young people who have become involved in satanic cults, warned: “Many say Hallowe’en is a simple carnival, but in fact there is nothing innocent or fun about it – it is the antechamber to something much more dangerous.”
The organisation’s emergency number receives hundreds of calls over this period, around 40 a day, especially from parents who fear that their child has been drawn into the Occult, he said. "There are always more evil rituals, animal sacrifices, desecrations of cemeteries and thefts of sacred bones at the time of the 31 October.”
Participating in Halloween is “like an initiation into the Occult”, he said. “For the sects it is the best time of year to recruit new members. From here the door to the devil can be opened. For this reason its necessary for us to speak out and not play down the danger.”
The Catholic Church in Italy has now launched the initiative “Holyween”, he said.
“While most people are steeped in zombies and horror we put on our door or windows a light or an image evocative of the saints. And then there will be Masses, prayer vigils and worship to celebrate the saints and victory of good over evil.”
The conference of 300 exorcists from all over the world took place over the weekend after the IAE was officially recognised by the Vatican in June. In a message to the conference Pope Francis urged participants to treat with kindness those who are possessed. He wrote in a message: "Those who perform this particular ministry, in conjunction with the bishops”, must work “with love and kindness from the Church towards those who suffer because of the Evil One".