July 11, 2024

God, the devil, war, Cain and Abel

interview with Pope Francis on the afternoon of Good Friday 2022,

By journalist Lorena Bianchetti.

SOURCE: infobae.com


Pope Francis: “Every day I pray to Saint Michael the Archangel to help me overcome the devil”

“We live in this demonic scheme that says we kill each other for the sake of power or security,” Bergoglio said in a lengthy interview with Italian TV. As Dostoevsky said, the battle between God and the devil takes place in the human heart. “Women are the force, we need them to sound the alarm”

God, the devil, war, Cain and Abel, Jesus' ordeal that is repeated daily in every human pain: these are some of the topics addressed in a lengthy RAI 1 interview with Pope Francis on the afternoon of Good Friday, by journalist Lorena Bianchetti.

In the talk, the Pope alludes several times to the devil, something habitual in him but which has attracted attention since the beginning of his pontificate: evil, the devil, sin... these are terms that political correctness had been marginalizing in the ecclesial vocabulary but which Francis is not afraid to pronounce.

“Someone who listens to me may say: 'But, Holiness, you have studied, are you pope and still believe in the devil? ' -says Bergoglio himself in the interview-. Yeah, I think, I think. I'm afraid of him, that's why I have to defend myself so much. The power of darkness...”

Bianchetti had asked him if he believed that the devil could enter through “the cracks in the door to the Church”, as Leo XIII feared. And Francis replied that the cleft “is worldliness”. “But it has always been so,” he adds, “in every age worldliness changes its name.” And he adds that the prayer of Leo XIII to Saint Michael the Archangel, he prays it “every day, in the morning, every day! to help me defeat the devil.”

Asked about the analogy between Christ's calvary and the suffering of a large part of humanity, the Pope replied: “This is nothing new. One writer said that 'Jesus Christ is in agony until the end of the world', he is in agony in his children, in his brothers, especially in the poor, in the marginalized, in the poor people who cannot defend themselves.”

He added: “Right now, in Europe, this war hits us a lot. But let's look a little further. The world is at war, the world is at war. Syria, Yemen, and then think of the Rohingya, expelled, without a homeland. Everywhere there is war. The genocide in Rwanda 25 years ago. Because the world has chosen - it is hard to say, but it has chosen the patron saint of Cain and war is to implement cainism, that is, to kill the brother.”

The journalist asked him if any form of mediation or dialogue was possible with those who only want oppression.

“When I say that you can't dialogue with the devil, it's because the devil is evil, with nothing good! “answered the pope, “Let's say it's like absolute evil. He is the one who has totally rebelled against God! But with people who are sick, who have this disease of hatred, there is talk, dialogue, and Jesus spoke with many sinners, even with Judas in the end as a 'friend', always with tenderness, because we all always have something good.” Therefore, he went on to say, when “we are facing a person we have to think about what I say about this person: the bad side or the hidden side, which is more good. We all have something good, everyone! It is precisely the seal of God in us.”

We should never say “this is a condemned man,” Francis pointed out because “God always tries to save us until the end, because He has sown in us the good part. He also sowed it in Cain and Abel, but Cain did an action of violence and with this action a war is waged2.

Lorena Bianchetti pointed out that we live in a society in which sometimes “the diabolical is decidedly more fascinating, more stimulating than the good, the honest, the kind and even the spiritual.”

“Yes, it's true. Evil is more seductive,” admitted the Argentine Pontiff. Some say I talk too much about the devil. But it's a reality. [The devil] is seductive. Seduction always tries to get in, to promise something. If sins were ugly, if they didn't have something beautiful, no one would sin. The devil presents you with something beautiful in sin and leads you to sin. For example, those who wage war, those who destroy the lives of others, those who exploit people in their work,” said the pope. That exploitation “is also a war”, that “is also destruction, not just tanks”.

“The devil always seeks our destruction. Because we are the image of God.” And returning to Good Friday, he illustrated: “Jesus dies, dies alone. In the most absolute solitude (...) because he wanted to descend into the most horrible of man's loneliness to get us up from there. He returns to the Father, but first he came down, he is in every person who is exploited, who suffers wars, who suffers destruction, who suffers trafficking. How many women are slaves to trafficking, here in Rome and in the big cities. It is the work of evil. It's a war.”

The journalist quoted Dostoevsky who in The Karamazov Brothers said that the battle between God and the devil is at the very heart of Man.

“This is where the game is played,” Francis agreed, “because each of us has within us the possibility of doing what these people do who destroy people, exploit people, because sin is a possibility of our weakness and also of our pride.”

Asked about what to say to parents who experience the pain and desperation of seeing, for example, their children hurt by a bomb in the war, Francisco replied: “I have had to learn many things and I still have to learn because I hope to live a little longer. And one of the things I've learned is not to talk when someone is suffering. Whether it's a sick person or in a tragedy. I take them by the hand, silently.”

“In the face of pain: silence,” he went on to say. And crying. It is true that weeping is a gift from God, it is a gift that we must ask for: the grace to weep, in the face of our weaknesses, before the weaknesses and tragedies of the world. But there are no words.”

And he returned to Dostoevsky, to evoke “that little book” that summarizes “all his philosophy, his theology”, Memories from the Underground. “One dies - they are convicted, prisoners who are in the hospital -, they take him and take him away. And the other one, from the other bed, says: 'Please stop! This one also had a mother. ' The figure of the woman, the figure of the mother, in front of the cross. This is a message, it is a message from Jesus to us, it is the message of his tenderness in his mother.”

The journalist then recalled that scene at the foot of the cross of Christ in which women predominate. “Women come to mind,” he says, “the strength of women.” “Russian mothers, Ukrainian mothers come to mind,” adds Bianchetti, “how important is the active role of women at the negotiating table to actually build peace?”

“Women are at the crossroads of the greatest fatalities, they are there, they are strong,” said Francisco. The Church is a woman, that is why Mother Church is so strong. I'm not talking about clericalism, about the sins of the Church. No, Mother Church refers to the one at the foot of the cross supporting sinners. (...) Sometimes I had to go to some parish in an area called Villa Devoto, in Buenos Aires, and I would take bus 86. This one passes in front of the prison and often passed by and there was a line of mothers of prisoners. They stood up for their children, because everyone who passed by said: 'This is the mother of someone who is inside'. And they endured the most embarrassing controls, but to see their son. The strength of a woman, of a mother who is able to accompany her children to the end. And this is Mary and the women at the foot of the cross. It is to accompany your child, knowing that many people say: 'How did you bring up your son who ended up like this? ' Gossip immediately. But women don't worry: when there is a child involved, when there is a life involved, women move on. That is why it is so important, so important what it says: to give a role to women in difficult times, in times of tragedy. They know what life is, what life preparation is and what death is, they know it well. They speak that language.”

He adds: “The exploitation of women is our daily bread. Violence against women is our daily bread. Women who are beaten, who suffer violence from their partners and carry it silently or walk away without saying why. We men will always be right: we are the perfect ones. And women are condemned to silence by society. “No, but this one is crazy, this is a sinner.” That's what they said about the Magdalena.”

“But women are the reserve of humanity, I can say this, I am convinced of it. Women are the force. And there, at the foot of the cross, the disciples fled, not the women, those who had followed him throughout their lives,” he added.

Asked whether the Ukrainian exodus “has broken down the walls of indifference and prejudice” against migrants, the pope responds: “Refugees are subdivided. First-class, second-class, skin-colored, whether they come from a developed country or an undeveloped country. We are racists.”

“On the cross,” the Pope said, “are the peoples of the countries of Africa at war, the Middle East at war, of Latin America at war, of Asia at war. A few years ago I said that we were living the Third World War to pieces. But we haven't learned. I am a minister of the Lord and a sinner, chosen by the Lord, but, such a sinner. When I went to Redipuglia in 2014, for the commemoration of the centenary, I saw and cried. I just crying.”

“All young, all boys,” Francisco recalled. Then, one day I went to the Anzio cemetery and saw these young people who had landed in Anzio. All young! And I cried there, one more time. I cry in front of this.” He added: “That's why I say war is a monstrosity.”

On the arms race, he declared: “I understand the rulers who buy weapons, I understand them. I don't justify them, but I understand them. Because we have to defend ourselves, because [it is] the Cainist scheme of war. If it were a model of peace, this would not be necessary. But we live with this demonic scheme, [which says] that we kill each other for the sake of power, for the sake of security. (...) We have forgotten the language of peace, we have forgotten it. There is talk of peace. The United Nations has done everything, but it has not succeeded. Return to Calvary. Jesus did everything there. He tried with mercy, with benevolence, to convince the leaders [but] not: war, war, war against him! Meekness is opposed by the war for security. 'It is better for a man to die for the people', says the high priest, because on the contrary the Romans will come. And the war.”

Francis rescued the image of the wife Pilate's wife, “a woman who is not talked about much”, who tells her husband: “Don't mess with this righteous man.”

“Pilate does not listen to her, 'women's things'. But this woman, who goes unnoticed, without strength in the Gospel, understood this drama from afar. [Maybe] she was a mother, she had that intuition of women. 'Be careful not to be fooled. ' Who? The power. The power that is capable of changing people's minds from Sunday to Friday. Sunday's Hosanna becomes the Crucify Him! on Friday. And this is our daily bread. We need women to sound the alarm,” the pope explained.

Evoking March 27, 2020, when in the midst of a pandemic, he crossed only Saint Peter's Square, completely empty, in the rain, Francisco said: “I don't know if I thought. I felt, yes. I didn't know the square would be empty, I didn't know. I did know that with the rain there would be few people, but no one. It was a message from the Lord to understand loneliness well. The loneliness of the elderly, the loneliness of the young people we leave alone. 'Let them be free! ' No! Alone (young people) will be slaves. Accompany them! That is why it is important that they take the inheritance of the elders, the flag of their debt.”

“The wisdom of the elderly is often neglected and left aside in a nursing home,” he said. “We don't know anything! The loneliness of the elderly and the use of young people, because young people without the wisdom that a people give them will do badly”, he insisted.

“The spirit of worldliness,” he also explained, “which is a bit like the spirit of power, but not only of power, is to live in a worldly style that - strangely enough - is nourished and grows with money. (...) when it falls into worldliness, in the worldly spirit, the Church is defeated. When Jesus tells us, 'Please make a clear choice, you cannot serve two masters. Either you serve God' — and I was hoping 'or you serve the devil'. But it doesn't say this. 'Either you serve God or you serve money. ' Using money to do good, to keep your family working, that's fine. But serve!”

“Kiev is a pain”, a “moral pain” for which “there are no anesthesia”. “Only prayer and crying. I am convinced that we are not crying well today. We forgot to cry. If I can give one piece of advice, to myself and to people, it is to ask for the gift of tears. And weep, as Peter cried after he betrayed Jesus. (...) A cry that is not a relief, no. It is shame made physical, and I think we lack shame.

And he evoked a “beautiful prayer of mass”, which says: “Lord, you who brought water out of the rock, bring tears from the rock of my heart”.

“I wonder,” said the Pope, “how many people, in the face of the images of wars, of any war, have been able to cry? Some have, I'm sure, but many haven't. They begin to justify or attack.”

“Today (yesterday), Good Friday, in front of Jesus Crucified, let yourself touch your heart, let Him speak to you with his silence and pain. Let me talk to you with the people who suffer in the world: they suffer from hunger, war, so much exploitation and all these things. Let Jesus speak to you, and please don't speak. Silence. Let it be Him and ask for the grace to weep.”

The Pope also took the opportunity to send “a message of fraternity to all my Orthodox brother bishops, who are living this Easter with the same pain that we, myself and many Catholics are experiencing it”.

“To have hope is not to have the illusion,” Francisco said when they asked him for a message for the discouraged. “Hope is the certainty that I hold in my hand the rope of that anchor thrown there. We like to talk about faith, so much, about charity: Look at it! Hope is a bit the hidden virtue, the little one, the little one in the house. But it's the strongest for us.”

As for his wish for Easter, he replied: “An inner joy.” And also: “My wish is not to lose hope, but the true hope - which does not disappoint - is to ask for the grace to cry, but the cry of joy, the cry of comfort, the cry of hope. I am sure, I repeat, that we must cry more. We forgot to cry. Let's ask Peter to teach us how to cry as he did. And then the silence of Good Friday.”



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