Does the devil exist or not? Pope Francis has a very strong opinion on the issue.
“The devil really exists.” The warning is signed by Pope Francis and appears in the title of his book published in 2018. The head of the Church has several times, and more often than his predecessors, mentioned the "evil" in his speeches since his arrival at the Vatican. And he leaves no doubt as to the reality of Satan in his conception of the world: "We have made people believe that the devil is a myth, an image, an idea, the idea of evil. But the devil exists, and we we must fight against him,” he said in 2014, the year following his election.
At each mention of the devil, Pope Francis does not fail to encourage his faithful to protect themselves against the evil one who, according to him, "tries to attack everyone, without distinction", including within the Church. “The style of the enemy [of the devil, editor’s note] is to present himself in a sneaky and masked way: he starts from what is most dear to us and then, little by little, drags us away,” detailed the sovereign pontiff in November 2022 , recalls Aleteia.
If he warns, the pope assures that "in the face of prayer, [evil] has no hope" during an interview published in the book "Exorcists against Satan" by Vaticanist Fabio Marchese Ragona.
A sign that for the sovereign pontiff the devil exists and prayer wards him off: Pope Francis pushed the Vatican to recognize the International Association of Exorcists in June 2014. The Argentinian, who praises the benefits of exorcism, did not never hid having had some experiences with exorcist priests from his native country. He even recalled that Jesus himself performed exorcisms according to the Gospels of Saint Matthew, Saint Mark and Saint Luke.
But if the head of the Church firmly believes in the existence of the devil, the subject is still a source of debate among theologians and religious people. A large part of the Catholic population aligns itself with the vision of Father Arturo Sosa, the superior general of the Society of Jesus. Which told the Italian newspaper Tempi in 2019 that “symbols are part of reality, and the devil exists as a symbolic reality and not as a personal reality.”
Two opposing visions and a Church that cannot decide. The existence of Satan is not considered dogma and the Church tends to remain discreet on this subject which is open to interpretation. Some theologians see their opinions evolve on this subject, like Pope Benedict XVI who described the devil as a "non-person [...], the disintegration, the ruin of being a person" before revising his judgment a decade later later by considering the devil as “a mysterious presence, but very real, personal (emphasis added) and not just symbolic,” noted Le Monde. If the Church does not agree on the reality of the incarnation of evil, it is unanimous when it invites its faithful to turn away from it.