Pope Francis broke his silence on Tuesday and offered a stinging condemnation not of the predators or the Bishops who cover for them, but of the “accusers.” Fashioning the poor bishops as the victims in this saga, he said:
In these times, it seems like the “Great Accuser” has been unchained and is attacking bishops. True, we are all sinners, we bishops. He tries to uncover the sins, so they are visible in order to scandalize the people. The “Great Accuser,’” as he himself says to God in the first chapter of the Book of Job, “roams the earth looking for someone to accuse.”
To be clear, the Pope is saying that those who seek to “uncover the sins” of priests and bishops are in league with Satan. This falls well in line with comments he made a week ago. Last Sunday, he said that “silence” is the way to respond to “people who seek only scandal, with those who look only for division, who want only destruction.” Likening himself to Jesus, he insisted that Christ defeated “the wild dogs” by refusing to respond to them.
In review, those who accuse the hierarchy of corruption and who demand that the truth be brought into the light are nothing more than dogs and devils. Once again, Francis’ disregard for the concerns of the laity has veered into outright contempt. But perhaps of more concern is the Pope’s fundamental confusion about how Satan operates. If these statements are serious, and not just the angry, thoughtless outbursts of a cornered and desperate man, then it would appear that the Bishop of Rome suffers from severe theological ignorance.
Satan does not uncover sin. It is Jesus Christ who does that: “For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open” (Luke 8:17).
And it is not Satan who rebukes sin. It is, again, Jesus Christ who does that, and through Scripture entreats all Christians to condemn wickedness: “As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear” (1 Timothy 5:20).
The Pope is conflating the work of the Devil with the work of the Divine.
So, what is Satan’s role in all of this? Well, it is Satan who tempts priests to become predators and perverts. It is Satan who encourages the bishops to look the other way. It is Satan who fosters an atmosphere of corruption and sin. It is Satan who keeps evil covered and mouths closed. It is Satan who wants silence in the face of evil. It is Satan who accuses the ones who stand against sin, not the ones who commit sin. It is Satan who keeps things hidden, out of view and away from the light. It is Satan whom we call the Prince of Darkness.
Yes, Satan is involved here. On that point, I agree with Francis. But the devil is not the one seeking to cleanse the Church of corruption. He is quite happy with the status quo. And so is Francis, it would seem.