Pope Francis expounds on the literal truth of Satan.
Pope Francis has released a new Apostolic Exhortation titled Gaudete et Exsultate meditating on the subject of the call to holiness. One portion of the text, in particular, has caught the attention of the public, the section which expounds upon the living reality of the devil.
We should not think of the devil as a myth
In Chapter 5, “Spiritual Combat, Vigilance, and Discernment, ” Pope Francis writes, “We are not dealing merely with a battle against the world. It is also a constant struggle against the devil, the prince of evil.” He goes on to say that Catholics should not conceive of the devil as being merely a symbolic device of evil and temptation and instead should believe in his literal existence. He also says that Catholics should embrace the stories of demons and demonic possession in the Bible as being literally true and if the faithful should fail to do so then they will be making themselves more susceptible to the grasp of evil forces. “The devil does not need to possess us. He poisons us with the venom of hatred, desolation, envy, and vice. When we let down our guard, he takes advantage of it to destroy our lives, our families, and our communities. ‘Like a roaring lion, he prowls around, looking for someone to devour’ (1 Pet 5: 8), ” he wrote.
Thankfully, Pope Francis says that humans do have weapons to use in the spiritual war against the devil. He lists these as “faith-filled prayer, meditation on the word of God, the celebration of Mass, Eucharistic adoration, sacramental Reconciliation, works of charity, community life, missionary outreach.”
The literal existence of the devil has been a fairly common theme in Pope Francis’s papacy. In one of his first homilies as the elected Pope, he made reference to the topic. The following year, he was tackled for this element of his preaching and was criticised for his belief in the devil which some Catholics believe is a little old-fashioned. He responded, “Maybe some of you might say: ‘But Father, how old-fashioned you are to speak about the devil in the 21st century!’ But look out because the devil is present! The devil is here… even in the 21st century! And we mustn’t be naïve, right? We must learn from the Gospel how to fight against Satan.”