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KANNUR (ICNS) By George Kommattathil: Catholics in a parish in Kannur diocese suspect the involvement of Satan worshippers in the disappearance of consecrated hosts from a shrine. The incident occurred at a popular shrine dedicated to Saint Anthony in Karaparambu, a substation of the parish in Kannur diocese, reported UCA News. "We are very hurt that the Blessed Sacrament was stolen," Father Ancil Peter, pastor of Our Lady of Dolores Parish in Vellarivayal, told UCA News on Nov. 1, 2012. "We strongly suspect Satan worshippers are behind this horrific act."

According to Father Peter, parishioners found the shrine open and the ciborium containing the holy hosts missing on Oct. 22, 2012 when they came for weekly Mass. On the same day, parishioners gathered at the shrine to conduct special prayers to atone for the sacrilege. They recited the rosary and conducted adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and penitential services. Police have registered a case but have yet to arrest anyone. P. Paul, parish council secretary, said local Catholics suspect the hosts were taken to conduct a "Black Mass." The 42-year-old lay leader explained they "don`t suspect Hindu fanatics because this is a Catholic stronghold." Catholics would have dismissed the incident as a case of theft if the intruders had taken money from the donation box, he added. Father Clement Langen, Kannur diocese`s financial administrator, told UCA News on Nov. 1,2012. "It is heard that Black Mass is prevalent in this region" but that the Church has no "explicit evidence to prove it because Satanists keep their activities highly secretive."

Abraham Jacob, a lay evangelist who has researched the prevalence of Satanism and Freemasonry in Kerala, said he has heard of people stealing consecrated hosts from Catholic churches and giving them to Satan worshippers for huge amounts of money. Jacob suspects Catholics and Muslims are involved in the Black Masses but has no solid proof where they hold them. A Black Mass, he explained, is a parody of the Catholic Mass in which God is mocked and the devil is worshipped. Jacob said Church people began noticing missing consecrated hosts after the Church introduced the practice of receiving Communion in the hand. "We assume the missing consecrated hosts have gone to the Satanists," he continued. "But until the culprits are arrested, it is hard to confirm." Father Harshid Dev, who manages a retreat center in Peratta, another village in Kannur district, has printed and distributed a leaflet on Satanism and the Black Mass to educate Catholics.

The priest, a member of the Indian Missionary Society, told UCA News on Nov. 1 that Satan worshippers spread their message through tattoos, t-shirts and upside-down crosses. "Satanic symbols are available across Kerala. This is part of a hidden agenda. Catholics are not fully aware of the challenging situation," he maintained. Father Dev added that he had met three Catholic youths involved in Satanism when he was working in New Delhi a few years ago and managed to bring them back to the Catholic fold. While he admits he has not yet met anyone involved in Satanism in Kerala, he wants the Church to seriously educate Catholics about the potential threat. "Unfortunately, even the Church people are unaware of the growing influence of Satanists in our society," he said.

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