Pope Francis in prayer Pope Francis in prayer  (Vatican Media)

Pope: the Devil seeks man's failure but can do nothing if there is prayer

In a previously unpublished interview, contained in the newly released book "Esorcisti contro Satana” (Exorcists against Satan) by Italian journalist Fabio Marchese Ragona, Pope Francis reiterates that the Devil always tries to attack everyone and sows discord, even in the Church, trying to set up one against the other. The book, published by Piemme publishing house, hit Italian shelves on Tuesday.

Vatican News

“Esorcisti contro Satana” , shines a spotlight on the action of the Devil in our world based on the testimonies of important exorcists and victims of demonic possessions who have found the courage to tell their stories to Italian journalist Fabio Marchese Ragona

In the interview, Pope Francis was asked to comment on the testimony of a young nun, whether he has ever dealt directly with cases of demonic possession and exorcism, and if the Devil can also act in the Vatican and even attack the Pope. 

Holy Father, in the testimony of the possessed nun, we read that the Devil reportedly spoke about you saying: "I hate him, he always speaks badly of me. Have you seen how much trouble I cause him?" What can we make of these statements?

I am not personally familiar with this case and, therefore, cannot comment. But, 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.

Have you ever dealt directly with people possessed by the Devil?

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. One is called Carlos Alberto Mancuso and he was an exorcist in the Diocese of La Plata. The other was my confessor, Father Nicolas Mihaljevic, a Croatian-born Jesuit. 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.

And as a pontiff, have you ever practiced exorcisms?

No, that never happened. If it were to happen, I would ask for the support of a good exorcist, as I already did as an archbishop.

Several people have said about Benedict XVI that during his pontificate he was attacked by the Devil - who always tempts us - but that, despite having suffered from this, he resisted well. Paul VI in 1972 said that the smoke of Satan had entered the Temple of God through some fissure. Can the Devil therefore also act in the Vatican and attack the Pope?

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 can also think of those [suffered] by Simon Peter, to whom He said: "Get away from me, Satan". Even the Pope, therefore, is attacked by the evil one.

We are human beings and he always tries to attack us. It is painful, but in the face of prayer, he has no chance! And then, yes, it is true, as Saint Paul VI said, that 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.

Should we be afraid of the Devil?

I think that there are some very dangerous demons and I am talking about "polite" demons. Jesus also talks about this, we read it in the Gospel of Luke: He says that 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.

What happens at that point?

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. Discernment is needed.

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11 April 2023, 10:54