Vatican: It’s not the “smoke of Satan” that’s the problem

Vatican Insider interviews Domenico Mogavero, Bishop of Mazara del Vallo (Sicily) and member of the Italian Episcopal Conference’s Immigration Commission


Father Amorth, an exorcist in the Diocese of Rome, talked famously about the “smoke of Satan in the House of Lord”. The sex abuse crisis engulfing Pope Benedict XVI and the Vatican, he said, was the work of Satan who had even “infiltrated the Vatican corridors.” Fr. Amorth emphatically stated: “Legions of demons have lodged there.” “The majority of those in the Vatican do good work, but Pope Paul VI talked about the ‘smoke of Satan’ infiltrating the Vatican as long ago as 1972.”

“Paul VI spoke of “the smoke of Satan” when he entered the Vatican. Taking a look at recent news, what we area dealing with is not Satan’s smoke but the need for structural reform,” says Mogavero, who for many years was right hand man of the Secretary of the Italian Episcopal Conference (CEI), Camillo Ruini.

Is there a mud-slinging machine currently at work in the Vatican?

“Slander and informing are two fatal weapons that are used in a cold and calculating way when there are no valid reasons for attacking one’s adversaries. And the Church is no exception to this unwritten law. Nothing new under the sun. For example, the accusation of “modernism” is periodically launched against members of the Bishops’ Conference who are open and welcome dialogue and is particularly nasty because the accused have no real way of defending themselves. It’s their word against that of their accusers. This makes for a very weak defence.”

The Vatileak scandal still rages on today, partly as a result of the legacy of unresolved issues left behind by John Paul II. Is he really a “popestar” as some have defined him?

“Karol Wojtyla was a great pastor, but there are some structural problems that still need to be resolved. For example, I would like it if there were opportunities for more direct and frank discussions with the Pope, given that, as bishops, we are all successors of the Apostles and so we care for all Churches alongside him. The Pope is an Italian bishop to all effects and purposes, although the way he exercises his ministry is atypical compared to that of other bishops. He is Pope because he is the Bishop of Rome, not the other way round. The appointment of the Pope as president is a choice which is based on a contingent fact and can be modified at any time. I personally believe that making the common laws which apply to other conferences, apply also to the Italian Episcopal Conference would not threaten the Pope’s role as Primate of the Catholic Church, but would rightly give Italian bishops a key role in the management of the body that represents their communion and care for all Churches. When this will happen I am not sure, but I hope it will not take too long before it does.”

What triggered the current crisis in the Holy See?

“The connecting fabric of ecclesiastical communities has weakened in a number of ecclesiastical bodies. Even the principle of authority which once constituted a qualifying element is constantly questioned today. I believe tough challenges and difficulties still lie ahead for us but I also see these as an equivalent to the period of burial of the Lord Jesus and that they are a prelude to a resurrection which will breath fresh air and new energy into the Church, once it is purified from the evil and scandals which taint its image and cloud its mission. The secret to efficient ecclesiastical action is all in the harmony between what the Church teaching offers and the expectations people have, bearing in mind the sacredness of the Bible and its irreducibility to purely human ways of thinking.”

Does the role of movements within the Church need to be rethought?

“I think that the chapter of Church history written by various movements in the second half of the twentieth century had up sides and down sides. This is purely a personal opinion, but a focus on certain elements has probably hindered a balanced vision and assessment of the phenomenon. Today, it is possible that a clearer ecclesial and ecclesiological framework is being drawn, which this experience can be channelled into, in a less emotive and instrumental manner. I am not concerned about the Church making mistakes; I would be far more concerned about the opposite occurring, because in this case the Church would not he truly human Of course I am not referring to mistakes linked to the truth of faith, if nothing else because these are not a human doing.”

Did the great Wojtyla style gatherings fail as a model?

“Mass demonstrations had a valid reason for taking place in the historical contexts in which they were encouraged and supported. Given that their impact on people’s life was not as conclusive as expected, the least we can do is not to attribute too much importance to them. At the same time, the right amount of emphasis needs to be given to the less manifest but more efficient action of Christian education, which guides people in communicating the strength of their convictions and transmitting values which help individuals grow, illustrating the value of social life and opening it up to a commitment towards the common good. One key aspect is relations between Holy See bodies and local Churches. Local Churches enjoy a subjectivity and autonomy that are only subordinate to Holy See regulations on certain occasions. It is important to bear in mind that infallibility is a prerogative that only the Pope and the ecumenical Council have and only as far as faith and morality are concerned.”

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Vatican: It’s not the “smoke of Satan” that’s the problem

  1. JabbaPapa says:

    It is important to bear in mind that infallibility is a prerogative that only the Pope and the ecumenical Council have and only as far as faith and morality are concerned.

    This statement is not fully accurate.

    Whilst the ability to pronounce a doctrine infallible of the Pope is, indeed, limited to the scope of Faith and morals (a precise point that someone on DT blogs corrected me upon a couple of weeks ago, to his credit, and my profit — I *do* love those occasions when better & improvedly precise teachings are provided to me by living, faithful Catholics), the same CANNOT be stated of any Full Councils of the Church, which suffer under no such limitations of subject matter in their pastoral and doctrinal works.

    One should also take note that exorcists are generally prevented from providing any more than a limited scope of personal doctrinal teaching to groups of the Faithful — their particularly arduous Charism is not conducive to good pastoral nor doctrinal work at the same time, notwithstanding that it is also directly significative of a priestly vocation.


  2. Sixupman says:

    “Pope as President” – not that which I was taught! This is Vatican II Collegiality writ large, which has also given rise to the, de facto, creation of ‘National Churches’ with only nominal obeisance to the Papacy. Hence, edicts of BXV I are completely ignored by more than one of the bishops’ conferences – another nasty piece of Vatican II creation, if I am not mistaken!


  3. Sixupman says:

    BTW, currently the Anglicans/CofE are holding their Synod, described as their ‘parliament’. Is that what a swathe of the hierarchy want, including lay participation? The Archbishop of Canterbury, their titular head and witness the shambles he has overseen. They have, at least, three elements:
    Evangelical Protestant, heaven knows what Protestant and one having the audacity of calling itself “Catholic”. Mother Church is on the cusp of such divisions opened-up by Vatican II.

    Is that what we want?


  4. Sixupman: No, I do not think you are mistaken


  5. Toadspittle says:

    “For example, the accusation of “modernism” is periodically launched against members of the Bishops’ Conference …”

    What is the world coming to?

    Mark Toad’s words – it won’t be very long before folk on CP&S start flinging that filthy expletive at each other!


  6. JabbaPapa says:

    Toad is safe from that one, anyway — there is a prerequisite of identifying oneself as a “catholic”, without which one is 99% assured of never being called a modernist.

    FWIW, I have already been the recipient of that rather unlikely epithet on a small handful of occasions to date.


  7. Gertrude says:

    Would that be the expletive of ‘Modernism’ Toad? Heaven forfend!


  8. Toadspittle says:

    Indeed it would, Gertrude, forefended by Heaven, or not.
    You see if Toad is not right on this one.
    Why, for all he knows, it might have already taken place!
    (although quietly and discretely censored and eviscerated, like several other things on here.)

    Jabba will tell us. He follows these things closely, as we know…


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s