Satan in Catholic Theology

For many Catholics, the Devil has faded from view, apart from when he is referred to during the making and renewal of baptismal vows. Many were surprised when the Pope recently referred to ‘the enemy’ in a speech. So what happened to Satan and all his works?

Pope Benedict was recently rebuked in the liberal American newspaper, the National Catholic Reporter, for his apparent belief in the power of Satan. Richard W. Kropf was incredulous that “someone as theologically sophisticated as Pope Benedict would resort to blaming the Devil for the Church’s present problems”. He was “puzzled to say the least” because of the Pope’s allusion to the “enemy” in his speech that concluded the Year for Priests.

Pope Benedict had said that the “new radiance of the priesthood”, which he saw emerging from the Year for Priests, would not be pleasing to the “enemy” who “would rather have preferred to see it disappear, so that God would ultimately be driven out of the world. And so it happened that, in this very year of joy for the priesthood, the sins of priests came to light – particularly the abuse of the little ones …”

Actually, Mr Kropf was not puzzled at all. He had a ready explanation of the Pope’s lapse into theological unsophistication. In blaming the Devil for the disclosure of the apparent epidemic of child sexual abuse by priests, Benedict XVI was displaying much the same refusal to accept responsibility that Mr Kropf finds among his male (but not female, apparently) clients in an Alcoholics Anonymous rehab centre.

Read the complete article in The Tablet

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