Late last month, the nonagenarian Italian journalist and atheist Eugenio Scalfari claimed that Pope Francis had told him hell isn’t real. Vatican officials moved quickly to extinguish the resulting brushfire, insisting that everyone who is anyone in the Mother Church absolutely believes in hell.
Pope Francis has put Satan in his place, citing the devil repeatedly in a document …, following a Vatican rebuke last month of a journalist who quoted him as saying hell does not exist. …
Satan gets more than a dozen mentions in the document as Francis talks about how life can be “a constant struggle against the devil, the prince of evil.”
He continues in the same section: “Hence, we should not think of the devil as a myth, a representation, a symbol, a figure of speech or an idea. This mistake would lead us to let down our guard, to grow careless and end up more vulnerable.”
Francis refers to the “wiles of the devil”, “the spirit of the devil”, “keeping the devil at bay”, how to “banish the devil”, and “snares and temptations of the devil.”
It all gives new meaning to the term papal bull.
To hear Pope Francis tell it, the devil frequently grabs hold of good Christians who write for Catholic media, and transforms them into vessels of hatred and mendacity. (No argument here, at least not with the second part of that sentence.)
“Even in Catholic media, limits can be overstepped, defamation and slander can become commonplace, and all ethical standards and respect for the good name of others can be abandoned,” Francis said.
“It is striking that at times, in claiming to uphold the other commandments, they completely ignore the eighth, which forbids bearing false witness or lying, and ruthlessly vilify others.”
That’s quite good actually, except for the small fact that Christians who blame the devil for their lies and misdeeds decline to take even one iota of personal responsibility. It renders meaningless all supposed signs of contrition and diminishes any expressed regrets to empty phrases. The devil made me do it hasn’t been an acceptable excuse in courts for a few centuries now; nor should it be in any other part of life.
P.S.: Underscoring the Vatican’s belief in the Prince of Darkness’ terrifying powers is the fact that Father Cesar Truqui, a professional demon-fighter, is scheduled to teach a course in exorcism in Rome this month.
[D]emand for exorcism is on the rise, Truqui says, as more bishops around the world, who were once sceptical about the practice, have come to see it as a possible solution to their parishioners’ problems.
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