Pope Francis: In the Vatican We Are Menaced by the ‘Well-Mannered Devil’

papal response
Grzegorz Galazka/Archivio Grzegorz Galazka/Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images

ROME — Pope Francis told members of the Roman Curia Thursday he and they are in “greater danger than anyone else” because they are besieged by the “well-mannered devil.”

This well-mannered devil “does not come making noise but bringing flowers,” the pontiff asserted, and he tries to convince us that we are better than everyone else.

We must remember, the pope said, that our conversion is never “over and done with” and the worst thing that can happen to us is “to believe that we have no more need of conversion.”

Conversion means taking the Gospel message more seriously and putting it into practice, he suggested. Therefore, “it does not just mean avoiding evil but doing all the good possible.”

Before the Gospel we are always like children in need of learning, he said. “Presuming to have learned everything makes us fall into spiritual pride.”

As he has often done, the pope contrasted conversion with the intransigence and “rigidity” of those who wish to “crystallize Jesus’s message in a single, ever-valid form.”

The form can always change as long as the substance remains the same, he said. True heresy does not consist only in preaching another Gospel but also in “ceasing to translate it into the language and customs of the day.”

File/Pope Francis arrives in the Paul VI hall on the occasion of the weekly general audience at the Vatican, Wednesday, August 3, 2022. (Gregorio Borgia/AP)

The problem often is that conversion does not only make us aware of evil, it also “pushes evil to evolve, to become more insidious, to disguise itself in a new way so we can hardly recognize it,” he said.

“It’s a real battle,” he added. “The tempter always returns and he returns in disguise.”

“If evil earlier appeared rough and violent, now it behaves in a more elegant and refined way,” he proposed. “Now we need once again to recognize and unmask it.”

These are the “well-mannered demons,” he declared, who come in “without my realizing it.”

For those who work in the Vatican, he continued, great watchfulness is needed because “our life is lived at home, within the walls of the institution, at the service of the Holy See, at the very heart of the ecclesial body.”

It is for this very reason “that we can fall into the temptation of believing we are safe, that we are better, that we have no further need of conversion.”


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