Witchcraft in the Church?


Peace be with you!

In my writing class tonight we got started talking about famous authors again and someone brought up Harry Potter being banned from certain states (or schools in some states). The point was made that this mainly happened in the “Bible Belt” states and that some of the more fundamentalist Christians are the ones against it.
Then a woman in my class said “Even the Church practiced witchcraft back in the 1600s.” Call me ill-read, but I have never actually heard that claim before! In fact, that was right around the time that lots of witch trials were going on; the Church could hardly have been practicing witchcraft while burning witches at the stake. So before I could answer, others said stuff like, “Really?” and she was like “Oh, yeah, they thought that they could make it work with their beliefs.” When I was able to get a word in I told everyone that the Church has NEVER practiced witchcraft. Now I’ve certainly heard of Malachi Martin, and while I haven’t actually read any of his books, I know that he writes (fictionally; I don’t know how much truth there is to his stories) about how the occult and witchcraft crept into even the Vatican…but that it was certain individuals. I made this point when she tried to say, “Oh, yes, there were some big Church figures that did it.” I didn’t want to get into an argument, as class was over and I get along with everyone there, but I told her that anytime something like that happens, the Vatican comes down pretty darn hard on it.

Anyone know where these claims come from; where she might have heard/read it from?

In Christ,


This is the first that I have heard of it. I wonder if she is talking about the early days of the Church when supposedly, the Church adopted the pagan holidays as there own, to make the conversion of the pagans easier.
As far as the Harry Potter books being banned in the “Bible Belt” that is the first I have heard of it as well. I live in a “Bible Belt” state and sales of Harry Potter books are thru the roof, just like everywhere else. There have been a few of the Fundamentalist preachers that have preached against Harry Potter, but no banning or protests. So as far as the state of Tennessee is concerned, it is not happening here.


[quote=Rand Al’Thor]…said “Even the Church practiced witchcraft back in the 1600s.”

This is simply absurd. Sure, some ignorant or willfully sinful Catholics have played around with witchcraft (as they have with every other sort of sin), but it has never been promoted, encouraged, or sanctioned by the Magesterium. As you say, the Church has always stood firmly against it (sometimes rather harshly).


Ask her for a scholarly, peer-reviewed source for this claim.



Some Catholic practices look like witchcraft/superstition/occult to some people. The idea that wearing a miraculous medal insures salvation upon death, or certain protections. The placing of relics in altars, or the belief that touching a relic could bring healing. To some people, that smacks of witchcraft.

The idea that priests have the power to say certain words and cause bread to turn to flesh, because they participated in a special ritual, that looks like witchcraft to some.

To a person not part of the mystical Catholic family, the differences may appear undistiguishable from the practices of the occult.



[quote=Scott Waddell]Ask her for a scholarly, peer-reviewed source for this claim.


Ditto - she is to provide proof of her claim!!!


I have never heard or read of any time in Church history where the Magisterium approved of witchcraft. In fact, the Catechism states “All practices of magic or sorcery, by which one attempts to tame occult powers…are gravely contrary to the virtue of religion.” CCC 2117

However, I have heard of various individuals calling themselves Catholic but are into all kinds of occult practices. there is a good review of a book that documents some of this activity at this link:


As for me, I have avoided the Harry Potter books and forbid my children to read them. There are far too many wholesome, edifying books out there than to waste our time on ones that are clearly not helping us follow Jesus.



You’re all forgetting what the Bible says about witchcraft and sorcery too. I can hardly think of a stronger or more clear message.

On a side note, if we are to fall on the band wagon of believing fictional works are actually non-fiction, like the devoted followers of Da Vinci Code and other books would have us believe. Few witches were actually burned during the witch trials that were conducted throughout Europe and the Americas. They just put a flame freeze spell on the fires and felt a little tickling, some witches even let themselves be caught many times (source: Harry Potter books) :smiley:


[quote=DianJo]Ditto - she is to provide proof of her claim!!!

I “third” the motion. All in favor? :stuck_out_tongue:


Same Ole Same Ole…allegations without substantiations. Get her in front of the class and ask for the documentation and sources and if she says, “Well, everyone knows…”, call her on it & point out the empty allegation. Everyone most definitely does not know any such thing. It’s just a load of bunk rattling around in her head.

There may have been foolish individuals who did such, but The Church certainly has never espoused or practiced such things and has in fact always condemned them.
Pax tecum,


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