A local priest has warned against the dangers of dabbling in the occult following reports children in the north west are taking part in an ‘demonic’ internet game known as Charlie, Charlie.
Derry-based priest Fr. Michael Canny said that such dabblings as the new internet craze - which has gone viral around the world and involves children trying to summon a Mexican demon called Charlie - could prove extremely damaging.
Local Sinn Fein Councillor Sandra Duffy meanwhile has warned that local families have expressed deep concerns over the prevalence of the game, which involves a simplistic ouija board type set up. There have also been reports that schoolchildren in Derry have been told by teachers over recent days that they must not play Charlie, Charlie.
When contacted about the issue, Fr Canny told the Journal: “I am not familiar with the new internet craze called ‘Charlie, Charlie’ which involves the summoning of a Mexican demon called Charlie.
“When I hear of such phenomenon I am reminded of the words of the Christian author C.S. Lewis who once compared people who get involved in this activity as entering into a ‘swampy jungle’. In other words - a very dangerous place.
“Sometimes people get involved innocently in the web of séances. Children may decide to play it on a rainy day; sometime teenagers may get curious to ‘see what will happen’, or to see if there is anything in it’. Sometimes the results are weak, something moves slightly. Sometimes the curiosity slides into a habit, a regular gathering, even an obsession.”
Laying out the religious guidelines in relation to such matters, Fr Canny said: “The Catholic Church teaches that: It is not lawful to assist at any spiritualistic meetings, conversations with spirits, or manifestations of spirits. It matters not whether a medium is present or not, nor whether the meeting seems to be above board and apparently conducted from religious motives.
“A Catholic may not be present at such meetings, even as an onlooker; let along asking questions of departed spirits and listening to their supposes replies.
“The words ‘it is not lawful’ means that it is against the Law of God.
“People may be sceptical and doubt that evil spirits are involved. But often people are left in states of insecurity, tension and occasionally terror after playing with the séance. This is why the pastoral charity of the Church demands a strict stand against this activity.”
Fr Michael CannyPeople may be sceptical and doubt that evil spirits are involved. But often people are left in states of insecurity, tension and occasionally terror after playing with the séance.
Fr Canny added: “Personally, I would advise parents and all responsible people to avoid such activity and encourage children and young people to likewise avoid getting involved in these activities.
“From the experience of people in the past I know that it can lead to paranoia and mental health problems.”
Sinn Féin Councillor Sandra Duffy meanwhile said: “Every couple of years you see these sorts of crazes crop up. Whilst most people don’t take any notice it’s important that parents in Derry know what is going on here.
“This week I have had a number of parents in the city contact me concerned about this ‘Charlie, Charlie challenge’ and its supposed links with Mexican witchcraft.
“A lot of the videos have appeared on Facebook and Twitter of this stuff and in a lot of cases it seems to involve young teenage girls.”
Colr. Duffy said: “What can seem like harmless fun could have potentially devastating consequences for the psychological wellbeing of young people.”