During his homily at Mass on Tuesday morning, Pope Francis blamed the devil for the sexual abuse scandal that has shaken the Catholic church to its core. But not in the way you think. To the pope’s way of thinking it is the efforts to expose the sinful cover-ups of abusive clergymen that are the work of Satan.
Using the term “Great Accuser” during his homily at Casa Santa Marta on Tuesday morning, Pope Francis seemed to demonize those who question the actions of the leaders of the church, telling the assembled bishops that they seem to be under satanic attack in order to “scandalize the people.”
“In these times, it seems like the Great Accuser has been unchained and is attacking bishops,” the pontiff said. “True, we are all sinners, we bishops,” he added. “He tries to uncover the sins, so they are visible in order to scandalize the people.”
The pope continued: “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.’ 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.”
By “unction” the pope meant anointing — which seemed like an odd thing to say. As Father Z noted on his blog, it is highly questionable whether “seeking an aristocratic life” (which is indeed not a great thing for members of the clergy to do) actually removes the anointing bishops receive in their consecration. “As a matter of fact I know it doesn’t,” said Fr. Z.
Pope Francis called for prayer, “for me, for those who are here, and for all the bishops throughout the world,” and added, “Bishops must remain humble because they were chosen by God.”
He also spoke about the vocational calling of bishops: “The bishop who loves Jesus is not trying to climb a ladder, advancing his vocation as if it were a mere task or seeking a better placement or promotion. No. A bishop feels chosen, and has the certainty of being chosen,” the pontiff preached. “This drives him to speak with the Lord: ‘You chose me, of little importance, a sinner.’ He is humble because he feels chosen and feels Jesus’ gaze upon his whole being. This gives him strength.”
The pope stated that a good bishop also does not “try to find refuge with the powerful of the elite,” and argued against those elites who criticize the bishops.
“The ‘elites’ criticize bishops, while the people has an attitude of love towards the bishop,” he said. “This is almost a special unction that confirms the bishop in his vocation.”
Father Z found much to quibble with here: “I’m not sure about this sort of ‘unction,'” he said. “But, apparently, if you criticize a bishop – for whatever reason it seems – then you are not part of the ‘anti-elite’ who anoint the bishop. You are the devil.”