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by Catherine Frakas 02 Aug 2003

Witches QUESTION from Roy Forker May 13, 1999 In a chatroom I frequent, a professed witch shows up from time to time and although a rather mild mannered witch usually someone quotes Scripture saying we are not to speak with a witch except to admonish and recommend repentance. Although it's a Christian chatroom, the discussion gets quite hot and heavy.
My question is: What does Scripture and our Catholic Faith teach about witches and how we are to treat them?
ANSWER by John-Paul Ignatius on May 17, 1999 Dear Mr. Forker:
Thanks for your question.
Deuteronomy 18:9-12 says:
When you come into the land which the Lord your God gives you, you shall not learn to follow the adomonable practices of those nations. There shall not be found among you any one who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, any one who practices divination, a soothsayer, or an augur, or a sorcerer, of a charmer, or a medium, or a wizard, or a necromancer. For whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord... There are few things God identifies as an abomination. Dealing with the occult, divination in any form, witchcraft (which involves elements of several of the above list) is absolutely prohibited for Christians (those who come into the land which the Lord your God gives you).
In Acts 13:8-10 we see St. Paul dealing with a witch:
But Elymas the sorcerer (for that is what his name means) opposed them and tried to turn the proconsul from the faith. Then Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy spirit, looked straight at Elymas and said, You are a child of the devil and an enemy of everything that is right! You are full of all kinds of deceit and trickery. Will you never stop perverting the right ways of the Lord? In Acts 16:16-18 we see divination identified as a demon:
And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying: The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which show unto us the way of salvation. And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour. In Acts 13:6 we find that sorcery is linked with false prophets:
And when they had gone through the isle unto Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew, whose name was Barjesus And more....
Do not go to mediums or consult fortune tellers, for you will be defiled by them. I, the Lord, am your God (Lev. 19:31). Should anyone turn to mediums and fortune tellers and follow their wanton ways, I will turn against such a one and cut him off from his people (Lev. 20:6).
In l Samuel chapter 3, read how King Saul consulted a medium and died the next day. I Chronicles 10:13 says that Saul died because of this.
Concerning Astrology and the horoscopes you SHOULD NOT read in your local paper...Jeremiah 10:2 says: Thus says the Lord: Learn not the customs of the pagans and have no fear of the signs of the heavens, though the pagans fear them.
Witchraft (sorcery) is mentioned as among the major sins (mortal sins) of the flesh in Galatians 5:19-21:
The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. And there are many, many more references in Scripture. The CLEAR teaching of Scripture is that all activity even remotely related to divination, sorcery (making spells), mediums, and the like is sinful and to be avoided absolutely. There are also references to the condemnation of witchraft in the writings of the Church Fathers and the Saints, and several mentions of the practice of such things in the Catechism, such as at Paragraph 2117.
As for how to treat them I am reminded of the essay by the Bishop of Stockton, the Most Reverend Donald W. Montrose. In one part of his excellent essay he says:
Witchcraft or superstitious magic is used to produce effects that are beyond the power of man. These effects may be good or bad and are brought about by the use of magical words or gestures, or the use of magical herbs, powders, liquids or similar things. There is often a specific invocation of the devil. Physical evils are directed against individuals because of hatred or jealousy. We have all heard about sticking pins in dolls, the evil eye, the eating of cursed food or drinking a liquid, that through the power of darkness is to cause harm, sickness, or death. This is witchcraft. Today, witches can be found almost everywhere, and often they are presented in a positive light. Just remember everyone involved in false worship, seeking forbidden knowledge, or using forbidden power should be absolutely avoided. ...If you have any objects or written prayers that have been used in witchcraft or given you by a witch, they should be completely destroyed.
If you have been involved in witchcraft you must renounce the devil, renounce the witchcraft in which you have been involved and all witchcraft, ask God's pardon, and confess your sin to a priest. In Confession (the Sacrament of Reconciliation) there is Divine Power needed to free one from the influence of evil.
The Bishop uses strong words. That shows us the seriousness of even dabbling in such things out of curiosity.
How should be treat witches? Well we should not associate with them. Whether they realize it or not they are evil-doers and Christians should not be generally associating themselves with evil-doers (to do so is to affirm their lifestyle as okay).
We don't want our children associating with the wrong crowd and even as adults we should not either. God warned Israel MANY times about this, and every times they ignored God's directive, and dispite the fact they were adults, they became contaminated by the evil ways of those they associated with.
Now with this said, we should love witches. We also should love the sinner, hate the sin. But love means GOD'S love, not some distorted politically correct idea of love. Love means telling the truth and sometimes means not associating with someone.
If we come across a witch, like in a chatroom, or on the sidewalk, we should be cordial and friendly. If the conversation is on things religious, then we need to affirm the teaching of Scripture and of our faith (which absolutely condemns witchcraft and all things that seek another god other than the True God). The Truth needs to confront error.
If the witch is trying to harm the faith of others in the room by insisting that Scripture affirms witchcraft, or in other ways tries to affirm that one can be Christian and be a witch, or in any other way asserts things in such a way that bystanders' faith may be harmed, then we need to see the situation for what it is -- an attack. In such a situation, one's response must, by the nature of the attack, be more intense according to the situation.
In the most extreme situations, when a person is beyond reason and the argument has no potential or any sort of productive intercourse for anyone, then one might need to shun the witch. That is easier in real life than in cyberspace. The problem in a chatroom is that innocent parties might still listen to the witch and be harmed.
One thing to remember if you find yourself in an argument with someone teaching error, is that your arguments to them are NOT to convince them, but to reveal the truth to the bystander. So don't continue arguing in ad nauseam in an attempt to convert the person in error. Rather, assert the truth so that the TRUTH will be clearly laid out on the table for all to see. Let the Holy Spirit take it from there.
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