Pope Francis says Devil is Behind Persecution of Christians

The lede in Crux (here) says, “Pope Francis said on Saturday that many Christian communities around the world suffer persecution because of the devil, who’s behind the hatred of the Christian faith that drives oppressors to lash out.”

This is notable in many ways. First, the pope only says the devil is responsible for the persecution of Christians. He says nothing about the persecution of other religions. Does he think that persecution of non-Christians is the work of God?

When the conquistadors swept Latin America, they brought Catholic clergy with them. They forcibly converted the population to Catholicism, slaughtering those who resisted or who they thought might resist in the future. Was this the work of God or the devil?

The Church persecuted (and killed) Jews for about 1500 years. Was that the work of God or the devil? The Nazis may have been worse, but even that is not clear. They only lasted about a decade. Also, as Hitler told Pope Pius, the Nazis based many of their anti-Semitic acts on Church law, including its Nuremburg Laws. These organizations had more in common than people acknowledge. The Third Reich would not have existed without the precedents of the Church.

But even if the devil is only involved in persecuting Christians, the fact remains that no one persecuted more Christians than the Catholic Church. Shortly after Constantine empowered the Church, it declared many groups of Christians to be heretics, and persecuted them. The Catholic Church continued to find and persecute new group of Christian heretics for many centuries. It also played a role in persecuting the Eastern Orthodox Church, especially during some of its crusades. And when groups of Christians protested the corruption of the Catholic Church, and established Protestant churches, the Catholic Church persecuted them to the best of its ability. No one persecuted more Christians than the Catholic Church. While it claimed divine support, the devil is an equally good candidate. What does Pope Francis have to say about all this persecution?

As I previously noted (Papal “Power over the Past”), the Church and its supporters are fond of rewriting history. Religious persecution by the Catholic Church is just another example. But while Pope Francis continues to spew, he receives little but applause.


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