The shocking case of the self-styled sorcerer of Turin, which together with two accomplices would have drugged and group raped dozens of women passing it of as purifying rites, rekindled the spotlights on the phenomenon of occultism and of the sects. A reality that in Italy continues to involve an impressive number of people who are deceived by alleged magicians and wizards, as demonstrated by the data of the free anti-sects number of the Association Pope John XXIII, founded by don Oreste Benzi, who entrusted this sector of the Community to don Aldo Buonaiuto.
The outcomes of the monitoring
In 2016 the anti-sects service has been contacted by 3.813 people. Of these, 2.855 have asked for help, advice or information. The cases actually treated following the reports were 1.613. An ever-growing number that passed from 43 in 2002 (data related only to the last quarter) to 1,583 in 2015. Last year the increase compared to the previous one, was of 33 cases. In total the requests for aid from the start of the service were 13.115, with an increase from 2007 thanks to the collaboration with the anti-sects’ squad of the Police.
The diffusion of the phenomenon
Only by the monitoring of the APG, it is calculated that in Italy operate approximately 8,000 sects. The majority (41%) are located in the North. The rest are almost equally divided between the Centre (31%) and the South (28%). Many more are the gurus: about 140,000. The majority (32%) define themselves as medium or clairvoyant. Follows the “holy men” (28%) and the supposed wizards or sorcerers (21%). The rest are “simple” coaches. The service signals that those who practice spiritism and witchcraft are increasing. There are four major areas in which sects can be classified. The most popular (39%) are still the psycho-sects, those that rely on psychological needs of individuals and act by inculcating in a devious manner a sort of occult indoctrination in order to obtain full control of the thoughts and of the feelings of their members and, ultimately, of their actions in order to manipulate them. But there is a growth of the sects that practice extreme cults (35%): satanism, witchcraft and especially spiritism. Then there are magical-esoteric sects (16%) and pseudo-religious sects (10%). The people who address themselves to the service report an increase of séances (arrived at 30%) while more than half of the occult reality concerns esoteric rites and other similar phenomena. The 18% of cases is related to black masses.
The data of the service estimate at 390,000 the victims of gurus in Italy. Surprisingly, there is an increase of the high class (37%), even if the majority (44%) belongs to the middle class, while 19% are the people from the low class. Another interesting fact is the age of those who resort to the occult, with a worrying increase of young people that are generally 49%, of which 14% adolescents. Adults are 38% and 13% the elderly. This datum is interwoven with the rising number of people lured through internet, the instrument that is certainly the most used by the youngest segment of society: passing from 9% in 2003 to 32% in 2015, with a constant increase. Among the victims, men still prevail (56%) while women (53%) are the ones that most ask for help to the anti-sects’ service, although in the last year the number of men who have turned to the toll-free number is growing.
Why people address themselves to the sects? According to the data detected by the service in most cases (31%) it is for health reasons. Then there are economic causes, linked to the crisis (22%). Other reasons are linked to the loss of loved ones (15%). But are increasing those who turn to the guru because they have family problems (15%) and especially need for spirituality (17%). All this leads to the conclusion that man continues to look for something that goes beyond the simple materialism. The problem is where he goes to look for: when you put God aside, it becomes more easy to fall prey to unscrupulous people who take advantage of situations of weakness for infamous purposes, as in the case of the sorcerer of Turin and his accomplices, or worse still, that involve the victims in the rites and cults that replace the devil to God. The solution, for believers, is much more simple and at your fingertips: you just have to want it, remember that we are the children of a father always ready to assist us, that created us for eternity, and contact a priest who knows how to help you to overcome the difficulties. For the others, it is good to remember that anyone should prudently inquire with diligence before running to the “holy man” or charlatan of the moment that promises the immediate solution of the problems. The golden rule is here valid more than ever: prevention is better than cure.