What is a ‘satanic’ crime?

In his homily at the requiem mass for Fr Jacques Hamel, Pope Francis characterized the murderers’ act as “Satanic.” Yet Protestants and Catholics have significantly different conceptions of the figure of the Devil.

La Croix journalists, Marie Malzac and Gauthier Vaillant, discuss these notions with Fr Jean-Pascal Duloisy, exorcist for the dioceses of the Île-de-France region (Greater Paris) and Olivier Abel, philosopher, professor at the Protestant Institute of Theology in Montpellier, France.

“For Catholics, evil is not an idea”

Fr Jean-Pascal Duloisy:
I welcome Pope Francis’ courage for daring to say that killing in the name of God is the mark of a perverted mind, in other words a mind that has lost the meaning of life. It is consequently satanic. Every human life is a gift of God. Attacking life is attacking God, and therefore satanic.

We have never really paid attention to what Pope Francis has said on these questions. We forget that at the very beginning of his papacy, he stated: “When we do not confess Jesus Christ, we are confessing the ordinary existence of the devil.” No pope has ever spoken of the devil the way he has.

“Satan, devil, etc.” belong to a lexicon we are no longer accustomed to hearing, because human beings tend to forget where evil comes from. Humankind is not the source of evil. Human beings who commit evil acts are victims, puppets who have been duped. Fr Hamel was lucid and clairvoyant when he designated his aggressor saying “Go away, Satan”: the youths who killed him and who also died that day were driven by something more powerful than themselves.

They did not know what they were doing, for if they had known, I am convinced they would never have done it: human beings seek the good. Let us remember the words of Christ on the cross: “Forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Evil for its own sake or absurd violence is the mark of the devil. Continue reading


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