The Vatican released a document penned by the pope Monday that railed against liars and gossipers. The Devil is mentioned multiple times, although last month Pope Francis shocked conservative believers after he allegedly told a journalist that hell doesn’t exist.
“Hence, we should not think of the devil as a myth, a representation, a symbol, a figure of speech or an idea. This mistake would lead us to let down our guard, to grow careless and end up more vulnerable,” Francis wrote.
Pope Francis has expressed a lot of controversial ideas. After the reporter claimed that Francis denied the existence of hell, the Vatican had to go in extreme damage control mode. That’s likely the reason why Monday’s document was released. Conservative Catholics who were upset by last week’s comments might be soothed.
Francis’ opinion about the devil is a lot less controversial than his opinion about hell.
The document focuses on the evils of gossip and slander. It’s become very easy to make fun of people. Online groups exist whose sole purpose is to tear down others. According to the pope, even Catholics aren’t immune to the social disease.
“Even in Catholic media, limits can be overstepped, defamation and slander can become commonplace, and all ethical standards and respect for the good name of others can be abandoned,” Francis said.
“It is striking that at times, in claiming to uphold the other commandments, they completely ignore the eighth, which forbids bearing false witness or lying, and ruthlessly vilify others. Here we see how the unguarded tongue, set on fire by hell, sets all things ablaze.”
Pope Francis is the most liberal thinker to head the Catholic church in modern history. Some Catholics love that about him while others hate it. He’s become a powerful activist for certain causes. Recently he’s been urging followers to have more compassion for migrants.