Pope gives the devil his due

Cyprus Today - - WORLD -

POPE Fran­cis has put Satan in his place, cit­ing the devil re­peat­edly in a doc­u­ment pub­lished on Mon­day fol­low­ing a Vat­i­can re­buke last month of a jour­nal­ist who quoted him as say­ing hell does not ex­ist.

In the doc­u­ment known as an Apos­tolic Ex­hor­ta­tion called “Gaudete et Ex­sul­tate,” (“Re­joice and Be Glad”), the Pope also be­wails the amount of defama­tion and slan­der spread on­line by some Ro­man Catholic blog­gers and Twit­ter users.

Satan gets more than a dozen men­tions in the doc­u­ment as Fran­cis talks about how life can be “a con­stant strug­gle against the devil, the prince of evil”.

He con­tin­ues in the same sec­tion: “Hence, we should not think of the devil as a myth, a rep­re­sen­ta­tion, a sym­bol, a fig­ure of speech or an idea. This mis­take would lead us to let down our guard, to grow care­less and end up more vul­ner­a­ble.”

Pope Fran­cis refers to the “wiles of the devil”, “the spirit of the devil”, “keep­ing the devil at bay”, how to “ban­ish the devil”, and “snares and temp­ta­tions of the devil”.

On March 29, the Vat­i­can felt com­pelled to reaf­firm the ex­is­tence of hell af­ter Eu­ge­nio Scal­fari, 93, an avowed athe­ist who has struck up an in­tel­lec­tual friend­ship with Fran­cis, wrote that the pope had told him that “a Hell doesn’t ex­ist”.

Mr Scal­fari prides him­self on not tak­ing notes and not us­ing tape recorders, “re­con­struct­ing” en­coun­ters later in ar­ti­cles.

Iron­i­cally, Pope Fran­cis did men­tion hell in Mon­day’s doc­u­ment, in a sec­tion that warned against “un­guarded tongues” in the me­dia.

In it, he re­ferred to on­line hate in the Catholic me­dia, which is pre­dom­i­nately present on right-wing, con­ser­va­tive blogs and Twit­ter han­dles that of­ten use strong lan­guage to crit­i­cise lib­eral Catholics and even the pope him­self.

“Even in Catholic me­dia, lim­its can be over­stepped, defama­tion and slan­der can be­come com­mon­place, and all eth­i­cal stan­dards and re­spect for the good name of oth­ers can be aban­doned,” Pope Fran­cis said.

“It is strik­ing that at times, in claim­ing to up­hold the other com­mand­ments, they com­pletely ig­nore the eighth, which for­bids bear­ing false wit­ness or ly­ing, and ruth­lessly vil­ify oth­ers. Here we see how the un­guarded tongue, set on fire by hell, sets all things ablaze,” he said, para­phras­ing a pas­sage from the Bi­ble.

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