I had some hopes for Pope Francis, but of course that was stupid. He’s the head Catholic, for crying out loud, so how wonderful can he be? At any rate, there were two Popeish incidents of note this week.
First, Francis inadvertently exorcised demons from a young man! As Newsmax.com reports:
Is Pope Francis an exorcist?
The question has been swirling ever since Francis laid his hands Sunday on the head of a young man after celebrating Mass in St. Peter’s Square. The young man heaved deeply a half-dozen times, shook, and he then slumped in his wheelchair as Francis prayed over him.
The television station of the Italian bishops’ conference said it had surveyed exorcists, who agreed there was “no doubt” that Francis either performed an exorcism or a prayer to free the man from the devil.
The Vatican was more cautious Tuesday. In a statement, it said Francis “didn’t intend to perform any exorcism. But as he often does for the sick or suffering, he simply intended to pray for someone who was suffering who was presented to him.”
. . . The Rev. Giulio Maspero, a Rome-based systematic theologian who has witnessed or participated in more than a dozen exorcisms, says he’s certain that Francis’ prayer on Sunday was either a full-fledged exorcism or a prayer to “liberate” the young man from a demonic possession. He noted that the placement of the pope’s hands on the man’s head was the “typical position” for an exorcist to use.
“When you witness something like that — for me it was shocking — I could feel the power of prayer,” he said in a phone interview, speaking of his own experiences.
And the honeymoon’s over, for Francis is apparently obsessed with Satan, something that I thought the Church had quietly shelved, now describing hell as only “alienation from God.” Apparently not.
Fueling the speculation [about the exorcism] is Francis’ obsession with Satan, a frequent subject of his homilies, and an apparent surge in demand for exorcisms among the faithful despite the irreverent treatment the rite often receives from Hollywood.
Who can forget the green vomit and the spinning head of the possessed girl in the 1973 cult classic “The Exorcist?”
In his very first homily as pope on March 14, Francis warned cardinals gathered in the Sistine Chapel the day after he was elected that “he who doesn’t pray to the Lord prays to the devil.
“He has since mentioned the devil on a handful of occasions, most recently in a May 4 homily when in his morning Mass in the Vatican hotel chapel he spoke of the need for dialogue — except with Satan.
“With the prince of this world you can’t have dialogue: let this be clear!” he warned.
Experts said Francis’ frequent invocation of the devil is a reflection both of his Jesuit spirituality, his Latin American roots — and a reflection of a Catholic Church weakened by secularization.
The results of polls vary, but at a minimum 30% of Americans believe that Satan is a real person, while 62% believe the Hornéd One is not a real person, but a symbol of evil. I suspect Frances is in the former category.
In other Popey news, the Guardian and other venues report that Francis admitted two days ago that atheists can be good people. That’s about as delayed—and necessary—an admission as the church’s 1992 statement that Galileo’s punishment was an error after all.
Atheists should be seen as good people if they do good, Pope Francis has said in his latest urging that people of all religions, and none, work together.
The leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics made his comments in the homily of his morning mass at his residence, a daily event at which he speaks without prepared comments.
He told the story of a Catholic who asked a priest if even atheists had been redeemed by Jesus.
“Even them, everyone,” the pope answered, according to Vatican Radio. “We all have the duty to do good,” he said.
“Just do good, and we’ll find a meeting point,” the pope said in a hypothetical reply to the hypothetical comment: “But I don’t believe. I’m an atheist.”
Well, I suppose that’s all he can say. I don’t quite get the last part, but I wonder whether that “meeting point” is Heaven.
I’m so glad to lean that I’ve been redeemed by Jesus, and I’m sure religous Jews will be happy as well. Such redemption, of course, goes against the teachings of many other Christian religions, especially in America. If you want to tick off a liberal Christian like Kenneth Miller or Francis Collins, ask them if you think that you (as an atheist) are going to hell. When I asked Lutheran theologian Lea Schweitz this in our discussion in Charleston, she equivocated, saying that there were “many interpretations” of what hell is. Her church, however, thinks otherwise.
h/t: Chris, Martim, Dom