Pope Francis has spoken about the devil numerous times since his election and this is sometimes one of the least understood aspects of his teaching. With the controversy over black masses in Boston, the time is perhaps right to look again at what the Church believes about the devil.
We spoke to Deacon Nick Donnelly, author of the new CTS title‘Who is the devil? What Pope Francis Says’.
CTSCompass: Tell us a little about this title.
Deacon Nick Donnelly: “I think it’s the first English-language book on Pope Francis’ teachings on the devil, which is a significant theme of his homilies. One of the things that has surprised everyone about Pope Francis is the number of times that he has referred to the devil. What’s striking is that he doesn’t refer to the devil in an academic or theoretical way but in the sense of a real and present danger to each one of us.”
CTSCompass: What do you think the Holy Father wants to achieve by talking about the devil so often?
Deacon Nick Donnelly: “I think his purpose is not to scare us. He hopes to help us get over any embarrassment about talking about the devil. Aware that our secular society dismisses the devil as a hang-over from a medieval world view, the Holy Father wants us to be totally faithful to the Gospel of Our Lord and that includes the recognition that the devil and demons are a reality in our world.”
CTSCompass: Have you felt that reality yourself?
Deacon Nick Donnelly: “I have prayed in Nazi Concentration Camps, and participated in prayer vigils outside abortion clinics. There is a sense of evil at these places that has convinced me of the existence of the devil.”
CTSCompass: How would you describe the Pope’s understanding of that reality?
Deacon Nick Donnelly: “I would say there is the sense that the devil is someone the Holy Father has encountered personally and with whom he often fights, as he explains ‘And in my personal experience, I feel him every time that I am tempted to do something that is not what God wants for me’ .”
CTSCompass: How does the Holy Father want to help us in our fight?
Deacon Nick Donnelly: “Pope Francis wants us to understand that the devil exists and insists that we take the devil seriously. He wants to warn us about the strategies and snares in our daily lives that our enemy uses to lead us deeper into sin, and nearer to hell.”
Here is an extract of ‘Who is the devil? What Pope Francis Says’ which is available from CTS, priced £2.50.