In 1972, on the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, Pope Paul VI delivered a sermon that startled the world. Describing the chaos then consuming the post-conciliar Church, he lamented: “From some fissure the smoke of Satan has entered the temple of God.”
Paul’s words were a warning to all who, taken with the “spirit of Vatican II”—rather than the Council’s actual teachings—had fallen under the sway of dark spirits. But Catholic dissidents didn’t want to be criticized, much less told they might be assisting the devil. So they struck back—with sarcasm, ridicule and contempt. One of Paul’s biographers describes their reaction:
Cartoonists refurbished their stock of clichés, producing cloven hoofs, long sinuous tails, ugly contorted faces and terrifying implements of torture. For the cartoonists Paul VI was definitely not a modern man.
Neither, as we’ve come to learn, is Pope Francis—if by “modern” we mean an abandonment of the supernatural, and a flight from Christianity’s most challenging teachings. Like his venerable predecessor, Francis has made it a point to draw the world’s attention to the wiles of the devil. But whereas Paul waited nearly ten years to speak so dramatically about Satan, Francis took only a day.
Within twenty-four hours of being elected, the new pope declared: “When one does not profess Jesus Christ—I recall the phrase of Leon Bloy—‘Whoever does not pray to God, prays to the devil.’” The following day, Francis continued: “Let us never give in to pessimism, to that bitterness that the devil tempts us with every day.” In his homily for Palm Sunday, he spoke of problems which appear insurmountable: “In this moment the enemy, the devil, comes, often disguised as an angel, and slyly speaks his word to us. Do not listen to him!”
In July, Francis consecrated Vatican City State to St. Michael, the Archangel, who “defends the People of God from their enemies, and above all from the arch-enemy par excellence, the devil.” And in early October, Francis powerfully rebuked those who deny the existence of Satan, warning against relativism, deceit, and “the seduction of evil.”
Striking as his words are, they are not surprising. During his formation as a Jesuit, Jorge Bergoglio adopted the intense spirituality of St. Ignatius, who always recognized the reality of spiritual warfare. In On Heaven and Earth, his 2010 book with his friend, Rabbi Abraham Skorka, the then Cardinal Bergoglio spoke of the devil in the starkest terms: “He is the tempter, the one that looks to destroy the work of God, he that brings us to self-sufficiency, to pride. Jesus defines him as the father of lies.”
Read the rest here: http://www.firstthings.com/onthesquare/2013/10/the-smoke-of-satan-returns