There were howls of laughter when Fox News published an article raising the question of whether the devil may have influenced Cho Seung-Hui to commit the Virginia Tech massacre. Fox just reported the comments of various Christian leaders on the subject and did not intend to settle the question, but the cynicism of the godless media and society was predictable and to be expected. Since the devil doesn't exist — they say — how could anyone be so irresponsible as to try to explain away Cho's deed by recourse to the spiritual?
Well, first let me say that, as a Catholic priest, I have seen and worked with my share of possessed and obsessed individuals. It's entirely possible for someone to be at once responsible for his own acts and totally under the influence of the devil in committing them. In this case, Cho pulled the trigger, but the devil was the author of the deed. Does not Jesus call him "a murderer from the beginning"? The devil is the prime mover of all evil in the world, but human beings freely cooperate with him in their evil decisions. No one gets off the hook of responsibility by blaming the devil, but we can't say that the devil is a detached observer to crimes like this.
The evil work that Cho perpetrated bears the classic marks of a possession that he cooperated in. Four clear signs of serious demonic influence were evident in his life and virtually assured that he would commit some kind of heinous crime against humanity in time. These are the devil's tactics for the destruction of body and soul: isolate, distort, excite, plot — and then kill.
First, it is not always clear how a demon enters someone, but it is sure that once a demon enters a person, that demon bends all his efforts of mind and will to overtake his host's life and make it his own. Isolation is the best technique. By all accounts, Cho was an isolated loner whose belonging to his demon was very far advanced. He had no friends to speak of, no significant associates or relationships and certainly no religious practice.
Second, with time and permission, the demon totally perverts all the person's mental processes in order to translate them into demon-think. Cho's writings leading up to the crime, and Cho's now-famous video manifesto, all exhibited signs that the process of demonic perversion of mind and values was complete. He was verbally fantasizing in front of his classmates and teachers about killing people in the most horrible ways. In the end he even blasphemously claimed to be dying like Jesus Christ for the sins of others: this is perverse thinking in the extreme.
Third, a crime of this immensity cannot be accomplished without a person's total emotional commitment. After reprogramming a person's thought patterns, the demon excites his passions to do what he wants. Others have very credibly explained how Cho's pathetic video images imitating the Korean flick, Old Boy, were evidence of his heightened emotions influenced by violent images. He even ranted in imitation of the Columbine killers Harris and Klebold in solidarity for the deed he was about to commit. In other words, it's very difficult to sustain such an emotional intensity about the evil he planned and carried out without some direct force multiplier. Graphic images provided it.
Finally, he plotted — like all demons from Satan to the perpetrators of the World Trade Center attacks. He bought guns and ammo, he planned the date and times and places of the murder, and he even went regularly at night to work out at the campus gym in order to look the part of a mass murderer. The devil must have been very happy to witness his prey blast his brains out after perpetrating the bloody murders of 32 innocents. That is the ultimate victory for the devil.
As sad as the physical deaths of innocent people are, perhaps the saddest element of the story is the likely loss of Cho Seung-Hui's immortal soul by this demonic action. The rabbis used to say that the angels weep at the loss of a soul that God created to share in His eternal blessedness; I am sure the angels are weeping now. Let us all commend the innocent victims of this crime, their families and the possessed perpetrator to the Mercy of God and then re-commit ourselves to proclaiming Christ and His victory over death so that none of God's children will ever be lost.