Pope Francis is still the new pope. I think many Catholics still feel like they’re waiting to truly know him. So many Catholics are watching everything Pope Francis does with interest. We’re still trying to understand what his papacy will be about. His service to the poor has taken center stage. His call to respect life has also been loud and clear. But it seems that one thing Pope Francis has talked about often isn’t getting the same amount of attention – the devil.
As Chiesa reports, Pope Francis has frequently talked about the devil. I know, that’s so like 19th century, right?
It is a frequency on a par with that with which the same subject recurs in the New Testament. But in spite of this, the surprise remains. If for no other reason than that with his continual references to the devil, pope Jorge Mario Bergoglio parts ways with the current preaching in the Church, which is silent about the devil or reduces him to a metaphor.
In fact, the minimization of the devil is so widespread that it casts its shadow over the very words of the pope. Public opinion, both Catholic and secular, has so far met this insistence of his on the devil with indifference, or at the most with indulgent curiosity.
One thing, however, is certain. For pope Bergoglio, the devil is not a myth, but a real person. In one of his morning homilies in the chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae, he said that not only is there a hatred of the world for Jesus and the Church, but that behind this spirit of the world is “the prince of this world”:
“With his death and resurrection, Jesus has ransomed us from the power of the world, from the power of the devil, from the power of the prince of this world. The origin of the hatred is this: we are saved and that prince of the world, who does not want us to be saved, hates us and gives rise to the persecution that from the earliest times of Jesus continues until today.”
One must react to the devil – the pope says – as did Jesus, who “replied with the word of God. With the prince of this world one cannot dialogue. Dialogue is necessary among us, it is necessary for peace, it is an attitude that we must have among ourselves in order to hear each other, to understand each other. And it must always be maintained. Dialogue is born from charity, from love. But with that prince one cannot dialogue; one can only respond with the word of God that defends us.”
I truly wonder how many Catholics truly believe in the devil as a being, and not as a metaphor? I also wonder how many times you’ve heard the devil discussed by Catholic priests during their homily? Not much, I’d bet. It will be interesting to watch if the “new pope” will have any effect on this?