The devil gonna gitcha

Ah the pope – the dear dear man.

Cristina Vai, 55, a teacher for 30 years, was disciplined after several parents complained that children had come home sobbing and frightened.

They said they were scared of her graphic description of battles between good angels and the Devil from the Book of the

The school suspended her; she was shocked; she wrote to the pope to tell him about it; she got a reply within days.

In the letter Monsignor Peter Wells, an assistant with the Pope’s Secretary of State, said: ‘The Holy Father thanks you
with all his heart for your faithful gesture and for the sentiments that have inspired you.

‘His Holiness also sends you from his heart an Apostolic Blessing which he also extends in particular to the young children in the class.’

The pope thanks her for scaring the crap out of children by telling them – in school, where they expect to be taught things that are true – a lot of scary shite about the devil.

Her fight for reinstatement has also won the backing of her local MP, Fabio Garagnani.

He said: ‘I hope that with this letter from the Pope matters will be cleared up and it will become obvious that her lesson
was in perfect accordance with Catholic teaching.’

Because as long as a particular bit of frightening horrible crap is “in perfect accordance with Catholic teaching” then it’s just fine to thrust it on children in a school, where they expect to be taught things that are true. Never mind that it’s both hateful and bullshit; it’s in perfect accordance with Catholic teaching.

The head of the school has some sense though.

School principal Stefano Mari said: ‘This was not an easy decision to make. We had parents complain that their children were scared by the way she explained the lesson and so after discussions she was suspended.

‘I am aware of the letter from the Vatican but I don’t see what difference it makes. My decision was based solely for the
benefit of the children but the teacher has decided to make it an issue.’

Excellent! A letter from the Vatican should make no difference. Quite right; well said Signor Mari.


  1. Wowbagger, Madman of Insleyfarne says

    For me the whole devil thing sits pretty high on the list of incoherent Christian concepts. I mean, if you accept there is a superpowerful trickster being out there capable of creating deception, how do you know that anything is real?

  2. Chiral says

    Revelation always made me worry more about god and his followers than the devil. They’re the ones who do all the torture here, unless I’ve forgotten something. Satan only seems obsessed with this one woman who eats a lot, her son and writing on everyone. Compared to the horror of god, it doesn’t seem so bad.

    According to revelation, I couldn’t get into heaven anyways since I don’t have a penis.

    Also, I can think up much better monsters than John of Patmos. My brain will often even do it for me if I go to sleep. *shudder*

    This is in Italy, so I’m kind of surprised to see that anyone is standing up for the kids at all. Although, I can’t tell from the principal’s statement if he is opposed to teaching about the bible or just opposed to scaring kids so badly that they cry (or maybe just about parents complaining about scared kids, if I’m going to be cynical) I think it’s great that he doesn’t think much of the letter from the pope, though.

  3. says

    Damn right a letter from the Vatican should make no difference. It’s funny though. If you read the Apocalypse through the eyes of the biblical scholars, it was supposed to be written to people (this is the interpretation, anyway) who were undergoing persecution, and to give them strength and confidence to meet the supposedly terrifying authorities and their penalties. As I say, this is the interpretation that is often given to it. Austin Farrer is one of the theologians who read it this way, and I can remember writing a paper about it a long time ago, taking this point of view. However, read straightforwardly, it is also a warning to those who are being persecuted about the penalties they will face if they are unfaithful, and straightforwardly is much the more natural way to read it. The nun was no doubt right. That’s what it means. The nun was also wrong. Whatever it means, it’s a goblin story to frighten people into obedience. The pope should mind his own business and keep his hands off little children. They’ve already done enough damage.

  4. F says

    I want to run right over there and smack Vai’s fingers repeatedly with a ruler. It’s the sort of thing she might understand.

  5. sailor1031 says

    There’s lots of scary stuff in religion and none of it is fit for presenting to small children. But I didn’t think the catholics were much taken with ‘the apocalypse of john’ aka Revelation. In fact it almost didn’t get into the canon at all. It was never pushed at me when I was a little catholic kid though and most catholics I know have never read it. I only read it long after becoming an atheist.

    And most of the DM readers comments are at the usual adult level..

  6. Evil is evil says

    When I was 4 or 5 my mother took my older brother and I to a tent revival meeting. All hellfire and brimstone, twitching, people getting up and speaking in tongues, the whole nonsense.

    Mom apologized for taking us. I’m sure she was bored spitless being on a farm with just we two children.

    However, the next morning my brother and I went to our “talk out of the the range of adults” place and agreed that our momma took us to see a crazy man. She lost a lot of points over that one.

  7. Chiral says

    @Eric MacDonald

    Is that some of the sophisticated theology we’re supposed to understand before we dare to call ourselves atheists? 😉 My family didn’t go to church much, but I don’t remember it ever being presented as anything but a literal sequence of events. However, now I’m wondering if animals with wings covered in eyes were some sort of literary device that’s lost to all but time and theologians.

  8. Midnight Rambler says

    Chiral: The message is pretty simple really. It may be bad now for the believers, but all the unbelievers are going to get what’s coming to them Real Soon Now. And if you go back on Jesus, you’re going to go be tortured and burn with the unbelievers too.

    The Roman persecutions of the time mostly consisted of forcing Christians to either perform sacrifices to the old gods, or be executed (if you were rich enough, you might only get exiled to some desolate place on the other side of the empire). It was a direct message to the Christians of that time to keep true, but it works just as well for those now who have doubts about religion.

  9. jamessweet says

    ‘I am aware of the letter from the Vatican but I don’t see what difference it makes. My decision was based solely for the
    benefit of the children

    Haven’t we learned our lesson vis-a-vis letters from the Vatican and the benefit of the children? i.e. they are consistently at odds?

    At least in this case she only brainfucked ’em…

  10. docslacker says

    Aaah… this brings back warm memories of Catholic School. Because, what would childhood be without the fear of Satan living under your beds always ready to take naughty kids to hell.

  11. Luc says

    There are lots of stories in Spain about kids making drawings about what they’re being taught in religion class and then the parents going to the school to complain, frightened by the disturbingly grotesque drawings their kids were making. But they actually are accurate representations of what we were being told; about the flood in which everything except a few people and animals died (we would draw everyone drowning as Noah and co looked); about the temporary suffering in purgatory and eternal suffering in hell; about the war between angels and demons, etc.

    That’s what happens when you take religious stories at face value, without any sophisticated cherry-picking.

  12. Jack M. says

    Does anyone have any detail on what she actually said to the children? It would be nice to pin that detail on the jackass pope.

  13. says

    “Speak of the Devil and he doth appear” is according to the link below, an old English saying.

    True enough when the speaking is done to the very young, innocent and impressionable. Apparently true also this case. It might be recast as “speak of terror and it appears.”

    Not so true when the audience is older, more street-wise and experienced.

  14. Ian says

    ‘Funny’ how she gets a letters from the Vatican ‘in a few days’, but if takes months of not years for the Pope to decide to take no action against Vatican sponsored child rapists

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