Pope Francis asserted Tuesday that Satan was attacking the Catholic Church’s bishops by uncovering their sins and “scandalizing” the church as the “Great Accuser.”
Francis made the claim in his Tuesday homily amid the growing crisis of sexual abuse allegations against high-ranking clergy and credible reports of systematic cover-ups within the church. The pontiff, who has refused to address allegations that he and 32 other church officials covered up sexual abuse allegations against former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, said that the scandal besetting the church was not the fault of criminal bishops, but of those who have brought forth accusations. (RELATED: For Those Concerned About Abuse Scandals, Pope Francis Prescribes Prayer … And Silence)
“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,'” Francis said, according to Vatican News.
Francis’ homily implied that Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano and other clerics like him who have accused Cardinal Donald Wuerl of covering up accusations against McCarrick and found accusations against Francis and other bishops to be credible, are in fact doing Satanic work by bringing accusations against the clergy to light. Francis’ words seemed to imply that even the Pennsylvania grand jury report on sexual abuse was a work of evil if, as he stated, uncovering the sins of the bishops is the work of the “Great Accuser” Satan.
Francis stated further that bishops are called by God to their positions and that a bishop’s popularity with his parishioners confirms this.
“The ‘elites’ criticize bishops, while the people has an attitude of love towards the bishop. This is almost a special unction that confirms the bishop in his vocation,” Francis said.
The pontiff exhorted bishops to pray against the accuser and to be encouraged by the knowledge that Jesus prays for them as well.
“A bishop’s strength against the ‘Great Accuser’ is prayer, that of Jesus and his own, and the humility of being chosen and remaining close to the people of God, without seeking an aristocratic life that removes this unction. Let us pray, today, for our bishops: for me, for those who are here, and for all the bishops throughout the world,” he concluded.
Francis’ seeming condemnation of accusations as demonic attacks against the church comes in the wake of growing calls for the immediate resignations of clergy who have had direct roles in covering up or enabling sexual abuse, like Wuerl and Buffalo, New York, Bishop Richard J. Malone. Others, like the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, have urged a thorough investigation of all sexual abuse claims against church officials and of Vigano’s allegations.
Francis has given them a singular response — silence and prayer.
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