In a newly released book entitled, Exorcists Against Satan, Pope Francis speaks candidly about the devil’s existence and strategies, warning that the devil tries to attack everyone and is only thwarted by prayer.
Vatican News is reporting on the interview contained in the book by Italian journalist Fabio Marchese Ragona, available only in Italian, which contains testimonies from exorcists and victims of demonic possession. In the book, Pope Francis says that the devil tries to attack everyone, even the Pope and those who work in the Vatican.
One of the testimonies in the book was from a nun who claimed the devil told her how much he hated Pope Francis. The devil told her, “I hate him, he always speaks badly of me. Have you seen how much trouble I cause him?”
Although the pope was unfamiliar with the case, he admitted, “Yes, it is possible that I get on the Devil’s nerves, because I try to follow the Lord and do what the Gospel says. And that annoys him. At the same time, he is certainly happy when I commit some sin. He seeks man’s failure, but he has no chance if there is prayer.”
He added: “What is certain is that the Devil tries to attack everyone without distinction, and tries above all to strike those who have more responsibilities in the Church or in society. Even Jesus suffered temptations from the Devil….We are human beings and he always tries to attack us. It is painful, but in the face of prayer, he has no chance!”
Ragona asked the pope if it was true that the Devil can even enter the Vatican.
“Yes, it is true,” the Pope confirmed. “As Saint Paul VI said, the Devil can also enter the Temple of God, to sow discord and turn one against the other: divisions and attacks are always the work of the Devil. He always tries to insinuate himself to corrupt the heart and mind of man. The only salvation is to follow the path indicated by Christ.”
Although he never performed an exorcism, Pope Francis said that he did encounter persons who were possessed while serving as archbishop of Buenos Aires.
“When I was archbishop of Buenos Aires I had several cases of people who came to me saying they were possessed. I sent them for a consultation with two good ‘specialist’ priests: they are not healers, but exorcists…. Both of them later told me that only two or three of those people were really victims of diabolical possession. The others suffered from diabolical obsession, which is quite different because they didn’t have the Devil in their bodies. This should be specified.”
Diabolical obsession occurs when the devil takes over the mind of an individual. As the late former exorcist of the diocese of Rome, Father Gabriele Amorth, described in his book, An Exorcist Explains the Demonic, that demonic obsession involves “disturbances or extremely strong hallucinations that the demon imposes, often invincibly, on the mind of the victim. In these cases, the person is no longer master of his own thoughts. Rather, he is subjected to a powerful force that creates mental activity in him that is repetitive, obsessive and irresistible.”
These hallucinations can manifest as visions, voices, rustling sounds, or as horrifying animals or devils. They can also manifest as strong impulses to suicide or to do evil to another. Some exorcists have also seen this manifestation in the young in the form of gender confusion.
Even though a person is conscious and alert during these manifestations, and their mind and will are not completely overcome, they have a profound impact on the victim’s relationship with the world. The manifestations make life almost impossible for the victim and can drive many to the point of suicide.
Pope Francis was asked if we should be afraid of the devil and he responded by warning the faithful to be on guard against him, particularly the most dangerous demons, those he referred to as “polite” demons. These demons are those who were kicked out at the beginning of our spiritual life but who return later with other demons to re-inhabit our “house” which happens if we become complacent or believe we’re safe and no longer in need of conversion.
“When the impure spirit is chased away, it wanders through the desert seeking relief. But at a certain point he gets bored and so he goes back ‘home’, from where he had been kicked out, and he sees that the house is in order, it’s beautiful, like when he was inside,” Pope Francis explained.
“He calls other demons, more wicked than himself, he brings them, they enter the house, politely, they ring the bell, they take possession in a polite manner. The soul, not taking care to examine the conscience, doesn’t take any notice, or out of spiritual lukewarmness lets them in. These demons are terrible. Because they kill you. It is the worst possession. Spiritual worldliness covers all these things. There is no escape: the Devil either destroys directly with wars and injustices, or he does it politely, in a very diplomatic way as Jesus recounts in the Gospel of Luke. Discernment is needed.”
Since the beginning of his pontificate Pope Francis has repeatedly spoken about the devil, imploring the faithful that no matter where they are in their spiritual journey, no one is safe from the ploys of Satan. Be vigilant, stay humble, and never give up daily prayer.
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