The media seems to be perpetually bemused by Pope Francis’ seeming obsession with the devil. Why does he mention the Evil One so often? Why does it seem as if the name of Satan is mentioned in every other homily? He even tweets about Lucifer! Is he obsessed with the devil?
CNN recently stepped out of its comfort zone and posted a commentary by Father Thomas Rosica who addresses the subject of Francis’ seeming obsession with Satan and explains why our Holy Father insists on catechizing the world about this extreme nemesis.
Francis refers to the devil so often because “he does not believe him to be a myth, but a real person, the most insidious enemy of the church,” Father Rosica explains.
His preoccupation with the subject isn’t a theological or eschatological question as much as it’s a call to arms, an invitation to take action and do combat with the reign of evil that has made our world so dark and cold in recent decades, Father explains.
“In his homilies, Francis warns people strongly to avoid discouragement, to seize hope, to move on with courage and not to fall prey to negativity or cynicism.”
From the beginning of his pontificate, Francis has been offering this kind of concrete advice about Satan and how we can beat him at his own deadly game.
But first, we must acknowledge his existence. “The devil also exists in the 21st century, and we need to learn from the Gospel how to battle against him,” the Pope once warned, cautioning Christians not to be naïve and think the devil is a relic of the past.
Nor should theologians think they can outsmart the cunning serpent. “The devil is intelligent, he knows more theology than all the theologians together,” Francis once warned.
Most recently, on July 12, in an address to 600,000 young people in Paraquay, the pope presented what Father Rosica describes as “the job description of the devil.”
“Friends: the devil is a con artist. He makes promise after promise, but he never delivers. He’ll never really do anything he says. He doesn’t make good on his promises. He makes you want things which he can’t give, whether you get them or not. He makes you put your hopes in things which will never make you happy.
“… He is a con artist because he tells us that we have to abandon our friends, and never to stand by anyone. Everything is based on appearances. He makes you think that your worth depends on how much you possess.”
He also gives the sobering advice that whoever wants to follow Jesus must be aware of the reality of the devil and the necessity of doing battle with him just as Jesus did.
“In all of these references to the devil and his many disguises, Pope Francis wishes to call everyone back to reality,” Father Rosica writes. “The devil is so frequently active in our lives and in the church, drawing us into negativity, cynicism, despair, meanness of spirit, sadness and nostalgia.”
We are never to dialogue with the devil, but only respond to him with the Word of God. Instead, we must learn to dialogue with one another.
“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. Dialogue is born from charity, from love,” Father Rosica writes.
“The devil has made a comeback in this pontificate and is playing an important role in Francis’ ministry. Francis is dead serious about the devil! And he takes every opportunity he can to tell the devil to get the hell out of our lives and our world.”
Yes, mainstream media, the pope is obsessed with the devil, and you should thank God for it!