Witchcraft & Demons in a World of Plural Beliefs: Helping the Afflicted—and Accused

6:30pm Reception
7:00pm Presentation

Fr. Bernhard Udelhoven, SMA, gives this third talk in CWCIT's Spiritual Works of Mercy Series. He addresses the work of mercy commonly known as "comforting the afflicted" as it relates to his pastoral ministry in Zambia, where he has lived and worked for 24 years as a member of the Missionaries of Africa.

His ministry involves a support group called the "Fingers of Thomas" for those who have had occult experiences, feel afflicted by demons or witchcraft, identify with forms of Satanism as portrayed by Christian preaching, or who stand accused of being witches or Satanists. These individuals find themselves ostracized by their families and communities, often with threats to their lives.

Based on 8 years of research (2007-2015) he led into Satanism and occultism in Zambia, Fr. Udelhoven's pastoral approach through "Fingers of Thomas" is a culturally-sensitive one. It takes seriously people's fears while striving to "comfort the afflicted," without foregoing the struggle for justice for the victims of moral panics, witch hunts, and the demonization of minority groups.

About the Speaker
Originally from Germany, Fr. Udelhoven holds an MA in social anthropology from SOAS University of London (UK). During the 24 years he has been in Zambia, he has gained 20 years' experience in mediating witchcraft-related disputes. And the approach he developed for the "Fingers of Thomas" support group is outlined in his 2015 book, Unseen Worlds: Dealing with Spirits, Witchcraft, and Satanism, published in Lusaka by FENZA (Faith and Encounter Centre, Zambia), a Catholic resource center on faiths and cultures.

About the Photo
A "Fingers of Thomas" member, Kombe Kambole (aka "Dr. Koko") during a workshop on witchcraft and "witch-finding." Courtesy of Johanneke Kamps.


About the Spiritual Works of Mercy
Acts of compassion, the Spiritual Works of Mercy guide us to do as Jesus did and help our neighbors in their times of spiritual and emotional need. Though sometimes worded differently, the seven spiritual works of mercy are

  • Share the faith (often worded as "instruct the ignorant").
  • Counsel the doubtful.
  • Admonish the sinner.
  • Comfort the afflicted.
  • Forgive offenses willingly.
  • Bear wrongs patiently.
  • Pray for the living and the dead.
Learn more about the spiritual works of mercy here. For a guide to prayerful reflection on the spiritual works of mercy, visit the Archdiocese of Milwaukee's website. And explore the parallel 7 corporal works of mercy, which focus on responding to the basic physical needs of our human family.


Please contact CWCIT at cwcit@depaul.edu or 773.325.4158.


Parking at DePaul
Street parking (both free & metered) is sometimes available on campus, but there are also 2 parking garages available for visitors**:

~ Sheffield Parking Garage (2331 N. Sheffield Ave.)
~ Clifton Parking Deck (2330 N. Clifton Ave.)

**For a discounted rate, please ask for validation at the event's information table. Discounted rates are as follows:

Entrance before 4:00pm = $9.25
Entrance after 4:00pm = $7.25

Thursday, January 24, 2019 at 6:30pm to 8:30pm

Student Center (Lincoln Park), 314B
2250 N Sheffield Ave

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