Shortly after Italian journalist and atheist Eugenio Scalfari claimed that Pope Francis had told him hell is not real, Pope Francis released a document in which he mentions Satan more than a dozen times. This way Pope Francis tried to put Satan in its place and assure everyone that he absolutely believes in hell and hell's leader.
Eugenio Scalfari, a 93 years old journalist and atheist, who made an intellectual friendship with the pontiff, claimed in his article that Pope told him that "“A Hell doesn’t exist”, and provoked an answer from Vatican officials. In a document, so-called Apostolic Exhortation titled Gaudete et Exsultate (Rejoice and Be Glad), Pope is citing the devil repeatedly and also talking about his ongoing fight against Satan, who is supposed to be real.
As Reuters reports, 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.” 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”.
According to the document, Satan is not an imaginary character made up in order to be an evil counterpart to another imaginary character and we should fight him by all means. This may sound more like a fairytale; aren’t there bigger problems we should address and fight other than trying to "keep the devil at bay?” In the 21st century, is it productive for society to believe Satan should be overcome? Or, should Satan remain in science fiction movies or books despite what the Vatican claims?
Moreover, this Pope's document and the Vatican's insistence that Satan is not an imaginary character have some concrete effects which can be reflected in real life. One of the effects of the Vatican’s belief in the Prince of Darkness’ terrifying powers is the fact that Father Cesar Truqui, a professional demon-fighter, is scheduled to teach a course in exorcism in Rome this month, according to Patheos. Demand for exorcism is on the rise, Truqui says, as more bishops around the world, who were once skeptical about the practice, have come to see it as a possible solution to their parishioners’ problems.
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