Archbishop Chaput: Catholic leaders ‘should know better’ than to say the devil’s not real

The head of the Jesuit order recently referred to the Evil One as only a 'symbolic' figure.
Thu Jun 8, 2017 - 9:06 am EST
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Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput Lisa Bourne / LifeSiteNews

June 8, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – Less than a week after the head of the Jesuit order claimed the devil is "symbolic figure" who represents evil, Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput penned a column explaining that the devil does in fact exist – and lack of belief in the devil is what leads to lack of belief in Jesus. 

Chaput began by recounting a lecture that scholar Leszek Kolakowski gave at Harvard University titled "The Devil in History."

"The audience was baffled that an urbane public intellectual, fluent in five languages, could really believe in 'religious nonsense' like the devil and original sin," Chaput wrote. 

"Kolakowski saw that we can’t fully understand our culture unless we take the devil seriously," he continued. At other times, Kolakowski wrote:

"Evil is continuous throughout human experience. The point is not how to make one immune to it, but under what conditions one may identify and restrain the devil."


"When a culture loses its sacred sense, it loses all sense."

"The devil and evil are constants at work in human history and in the struggles of every human soul," explained Chaput. "And note that Kolakowski (unlike some of our own Catholic leaders who should know better) was not using the word 'devil' as a symbol of the darkness in our own hearts, or a metaphor for the bad things that happen in the world."

"He was talking about the spiritual being Jesus called 'the evil one' and 'the father of lies' — the fallen angel who works tirelessly to thwart God’s mission and Christ’s work of salvation," Chaput wrote.

"The modern world makes it hard to believe in the devil," he continued, and it also makes it hard to believe in Jesus Christ. "That’s the point."

Chaput pointed to an expression that Medieval theologians used, Nullus diabolus, nullus redemptor. It means "no devil, no Redeemer."

"Without the devil, it’s very hard to explain why Jesus needed to come into the world to suffer and die for us," Chaput elaborated. "What exactly did he redeem us from?"

Fr. Arturo Sosa Abascal, Superior General of the Jesuits, made his remarks about Satan in a May 31 interview with El Mundo

"We have created symbolic figures, such as the devil, in order to express [the reality of] evil," Abascal said, responding to a question about if he believes evil is a process of human psychology or comes from a higher being. "Social conditioning also represents that figure."

"God did not create devils, but glorious angels," My Catholic Faith, a 1949 version of the Baltimore Catechism, explains. "The rebel angels turned themselves into devils by their sin ... Our Lord himself was tempted by the devil." 

"Scripture speaks of a sin of these angels. This 'fall' consists in the free choice of these created spirits, who radically and irrevocably rejected God and his reign," the newer version of the Catechism explains.

"Scripture witnesses to the disastrous influence of the one Jesus calls 'a murderer from the beginning,' who would even try to divert Jesus from the mission received from his Father," it continues. "'The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.' In its consequences the gravest of these works was the mendacious seduction that led man to disobey God."

  catholic teaching, charles chaput, devil, hell, jesuits, satan

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