Whatever Bishop Cullinan’s thoughts on Satan, I still prefer him to Bouncy Castle Catholics, says Donal O’Keeffe.

A Catholic bishop has announced the establishment of a team of exorcists and warned the public against using alternative medicine lest they be exposed to evil spirits. No, that’s not a sub-plot to Arthur Matthews’ and Graham Linehan’s upcoming ‘Pope Ted: The Father Ted Musical’ (and I checked that with Graham Linehan).

Bishop Alphonsus Cullinan of Waterford and Lismore took to WLR FM’s ‘Déise Live’ last week to announce his intention to establish a “delivery ministry” group which will rid people of “the devil” through exorcism. I’m not making this up. Cullinan, the man who previously told Catholics who had voted to repeal the Eighth Amendment they needed to go to Confession, says he has received “several requests” to help people deal with evil forces.

Bishop Cullinan claimed users of reiki and other “alternative medicine” pseudo-sciences might be exposed to evil spirits. He said he was told by the brother of a reiki master that said reiki master was “working on somebody one day when he actually says he saw a vision of Satan”. The poor man was, according to Cullinan, “scared out of his wits, dropped the reiki and went back to the church”.

Cullinan went on to say “I am just setting up a group, actually, of people who want to be part of delivery ministry, if you like.

“This is something that has to be done in secret because you don’t let these people’s names out and they are going to houses where people maybe have been involved in some kind of new age thing or some kind of seance or that kind of thing and, unfortunately, they’ve opened up a door to an evil force, Satan.”

Admitting he had never actually seen an exorcism himself, Cullinan said: “But I have certainly felt the presence of evil. I remember one particular priest, a friend of mine who I knew who was involved in one particular case, and it was a girl, a professional girl, young, who came with her mother, and there were four men, kind of rugby types, to hold her down in the chair, such strength she had.

“The priest had warned the four guys beforehand: just make sure you’ve gone to Confession and one guy didn’t go to Confession, one of the four, and the girl with a voice that wasn’t hers, it was a male voice coming out of her, actually called out the sins of your man, the guy who hadn’t gone to Confession.

“I’m sorry if I’m scaring anybody.”

Trust me, Your Grace, you’re scaring nobody. You are, on the other hand, contributing generously to the gaiety of the Nation. I appreciate your dilemma. I have no doubt that you and your colleagues are sincere in the message you are selling, but you lads have been getting away with spoofery for nigh-on 2,000 years. And now others are muscling in on your territory, and by God doesn’t that freak you out.

Reiki posits the notion of a universal life force – a “chi” – which can be manipulated by the hands of “reiki masters”.

Reiki is complete and utter hogwash. There is absolutely zero scientific evidence to support the existence of a universal life force – midichlorians to one side – but there’s the Catholic Church’s problem right there. There is absolutely zero scientific evidence to support the idea that an Iron Age rabbi rose from the dead either. And there is even less evidence to prove that the same preacher – who we at least can say with some certainty actually existed – was the son of a desert deity which routinely urged its followers to commit genocide.

The Afterlife? On behalf of the dying, on behalf of the bereaved, I beg you please to prove it.

Me, I think that was one clever monkey that first pointed to the sun and told the other monkeys, “D’you see yer man up there? I speak for him. And if you want to stay on his good side, you’d better start showing me some respect.”

(By the way, if I’m any judge of referendums, you have just over a week to try to get me done for blasphemy.)

Believe it or not, though, Phonsie, I’m actually on your side.

Now, you’re embarrassing the Bouncy Castle Catholics, the fake Catholics who don’t believe practically anything you’re selling, but who love the bells and smells of cultural Catholicism, but I think you’re absolutely right.

I campaigned for repeal of the Eighth Amendment, but then I’m not a Catholic. The Catholic Church teaches very clearly that all abortion is murder. Now, I don’t believe it is, and two-thirds of Irish voters don’t believe it is either, but I think if you’re going to claim to be a Catholic, you need to be at least cognisant of the rules.

If you claim to be a Catholic, and you voted for Repeal, then get thee to a Confession Box.

Similarly, the Catholic Church really does teach that Satan, as the Louvin Brothers famously sang, is real. That means there is literally a big red lad with horns on his head and a pointy tail out to make us all bold. A real Devil, stalking the Earth and leading us all into temptation.

Smiling, twinkling Pope Francis claims to believe Satan causes child abuse. Fair enough, I suppose, but one would imagine that if the CEO of the Acme Corporation – Market Leaders In Innovation Solutions Since 1949 – discovered that representatives of Acme were, across generations, raping children on an industrial scale, and Acme managers were routinely covering up and facilitating that abuse, Acme’s CEO would call an emergency meeting. By close of business.

As it happens, Pope Francis, who really can’t pretend to be suddenly shocked at child abuse, has indeed called an emergency meeting of the Catholic Church’s senior hierarchy to look into clerical child abuse. He called it in September 2018. It will convene, a leisurely five months later, in February 2019.

Maybe Satan is real. Maybe Bouncy Castle Catholics facilitate him.