An exorcist from the Archdiocese of Manila warned during an online forum this week against “enemies of the soul” in the virtual world.
“The devil can speak through social media,” said Father Jose Francisco Syquia, director of the Archdiocese of Manila Office of Exorcism.
The priest said that in actual exorcism rites, electronic gadgets have been used by the devil to communicate.
He also warned that the advent of smartphones “gave rise to mental health issues, including unforgiveness, apathy, aggressiveness, and rudeness.”
The priest was speaking at the first “In Defense of Truth” online conference organized by the Office of Social Communication of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences and the Veritas Asia Institute of Social Communication.
In his talk, Father Syquia warned that “evil penetrates families and communities in the subtlest” way, adding that the virtual world is opening ways for evil to thrive and destroy the human soul.
The priest warned against the dangers of modern technology that promises versions of redemption, and even spirituality, that are devoid of God and His providence.
He said evil can be gleaned from mimicked human experiences online, adding that even Pope Francis warned that “not all that is technologically possible is morally acceptable.”
“Virtual reality is even made to look more real than objective reality,” said Father Syquia.
He said the crisis of the times is man’s openness to enemy suggestions brought about by his or her inability to discern beyond media’s external appeal.
“Gadgets make a person fall into an altered state of consciousness which makes him psychically open, if not sensitive to the spirit world,” said the priest.
He noted that people have become dependent, even addicted, on gadgets.
Social media apps are “purposely made to be addictive,” said the priest, adding that “addiction is very easy because of man’s concupiscence.”
Father Syquia said the results of “man-technology fusion” are disheartening, citing “hatred, rage, despair, isolation, and loneliness” among them.
He said these are the same “pains” of hell mentioned in the 2010 book by Jesuit priest Francis Xavier Schouppe “The Dogma of Hell.”
The same pains are conveniently “brought into the real and physical world through algorithms digital app developers use to keep audiences glued to their screens,” said Father Syquia.
He said low self-esteem is now boosted by the number of likes as well as followers admiring “outrageous even immoral acts.”
Preoccupations have also increased, leaving people with “no more time to prepare for their entry into heaven,” said the Catholic priest.
He warned netizens against the “truly evil websites,” such as those dealing with occultism and witchcraft.
“They may have incantations and curses attached to them potentially leading to diabolical oppression, if not outright possession,” said Father Syquia.
The priest urged the faithful to be aware of the “three signs of the Devil” — isolation, rage, and nakedness – that point to a “highly sexualized world” that offers no limits or restrictions.
The online conference was also supported by the Catholic Media Network – Philippines and the Mary the Queen Parish of the Diocese of Novaliches.