I was wondering when our beloved media was going to tire of Pope Francis and realise that he is not the great white hope for dissenting Catholics, but rather a traditional and innovative Pontiff who is just quite simple in his way of life and his celebration of the liturgy. I think it may well be happening now. It seems the media are getting a little tired of the Holy Father's references to the devil.
When it comes to speaking about the evil one I think Pope Francis has clocked up a modern Papal record. Since his election he has referred to the prince of lies a number of times and, up until recently, while they may have been shifting uncomfortably in their seats, the people in the media have ignored it. But, as you are aware, some are now getting a little irate. Well, I suppose you have to hand it to them, they did endure the orthodoxy for longer than I thought they would, I thought the urge to scratch the itch would have provoked a reaction before now. But it seems the scratching has begun.
The Holy Father is quite right to warn us about the devil and his activity. I have no doubt Francis sees how much demonic activity is going on around us - and I think there is a lot. Certainly here in Ireland the evil one is very busy prowling the corridors of power as he works on his plan of destroying human life. We need to be aware that our main opponents in the struggle for life are not flesh and blood, but, as Jesus said in the Gospel, "powers and principalities".
The way the devil works is to tempt men and women to do his bidding, he then helps them carry out his mission and destroy those who try to prevent this mission, and then he turns on those who served him. His plan is for total destruction. In the struggle against abortion he seeks to destroy nascent human life and those involved in the pro-life movement who stand for truth, which he hates; and then he turns on his servants and destroys them. In doing all this he cares not a whit for men and women, he just wants to hurt God. The devil wants to separate us from God, lead us to a point where in pride we turn away from God - this happens either by outright rejection, or, more subtly, convincing people that their idea of God is the true God and any doctrine that contradicts their opinion is rejected. In this second tactic the devil is leading people into idolatry. So the Holy Father is right to warn us: living in this relativistic age many have reinvented God to their own tastes and ideology. This "god" is an idol and in worshipping this idol many are lead to implicitly reject the true God.
While some in the media are getting annoyed at Francis, others jumped on the story that he performed an exorcism in St Peter's Square. Some sources have said that the young man prayed over is troubled in some way, and I presume at the Audience the priest who accompanied him asked the Pope to pray over the man, providing the Holy Father with some details as to what the affliction was. What happened, I think, was a simple prayer of blessing and the young man reacted, as those under the influence of the evil one tend to react. There is no way the Holy Father would have performed an exorcism in full view of the world's media - these things are done quietly so as not to sensationalise what is a delicate ministry in the Church. Now if the Pope's prayer of blessing (or simple prayer of deliverance) can actually liberate someone there and then, well and good. It is possible for the Vicar of Christ, who is a holy man, to liberate in such an easy way if it is what God desires.
Michael Kelly has an interesting article on the issue which is well worth reading. I would reiterate Michael's last words: "He hasn't gone away". We need to be aware of that - not fearful: the victory has already been won by the Lord Jesus. But we need to be one step ahead, and we will be if we give ourselves to Christ, as Pope Francis has been advising us since the first day of his Papacy.