WashPost Hypes Pope's 'Old School' Preaching on Devil; Praise of Exorcist 'Crazy Uncles'

On Sunday, the Washington Post's Anthony Faiola spotlighted how Pope Francis is supposedly "the most old school of any pope since at least Paul VI" with regard to his consistent teaching on the Devil. Faiola underlined that "Francis has not only dwelled far more on Satan in sermons and speeches than his recent predecessors have, but also sought to rekindle the Devil's image as a supernatural entity with the forces of evil at his beck and call."

The liberal newspaper's London bureau chief also pointed out how the pontiff "praised a group long viewed by some as the crazy uncles of the Roman Catholic Church — the International Association of Exorcists," much to the dismay of dissenting Catholics inside the Church who want to downplay or deny the existence of Satan:

...[B]y focusing on old-school interpretations of the Devil, some progressive theologians complain the pope is undermining his reputation as a leader who in so many other ways appears to be more in step with modern society than his predecessor.

"He is opening the door to superstition," said Vito Mancuso, a Catholic theologian and writer.

Faiola led his front-page article, "A modern pope gets old school on the Devil," by noting how the Bishop of Rome is apparently the "darling of liberal Catholics and an advocate of inclusion and forgiveness." He then asserted that "Pope Francis is hardly known for fire and brimstone. Yet, in his words and deeds, the new pope is locked in an epic battle with the oldest enemy of God and creation: the Devil."

The Washington Post journalist continued with his "most old school" label of the Pope, and claimed that the Argentinian pontiff has "dwelled far more often on Satan...than his recent predecessors have." He then cited three examples of Francis doing this, and included his biased "crazy uncle" moniker of exorcists:

Last year, for instance, Francis laid hands on a man in a wheelchair who claimed to be possessed by demons, in what many saw as an impromptu act of cleansing. A few months later, he praised a group long viewed by some as the crazy uncles of the Roman Catholic Church — the International Association of Exorcists — for "helping people who suffer and are in need of liberation."

"'But Father, how old-fashioned you are to speak about the Devil in the 21st century,'''  Francis, quoting those who have noted his frequent mentions of the Devil, said last month while presiding over Mass at the Vatican's chapel in St. Martha's House. He warned those gathered on that chilly morning to be vigilant and not be fooled by the hidden face of Satan in the modern world. "Look out because the Devil is present," he said.

Faiola also mentioned the push-back that the Holy Father has been receiving from heterodox individuals inside the Church:


Since its foundation, the church has taught the existence of the Devil. But in recent decades, progressive priests and bishops, particularly in the United States and Western Europe, have tended to couch Satan in more allegorical terms. Evil became less the wicked plan of the master of hell than the nasty byproduct of humanity's free will....

The writer spent the bulk of the second half of his article on the resurgence of exorcists in recent years, and included his quote of Mancuso's critique of the Pope. Despite his passing mention that the theologian is a "progressive," he omitted that Mancuso parts company with the Church's teachings in more than a few key areas. Back in 2008, journalist Sandro Magister, who is the Vatican correspondent for major Italian newspaper L'espresso, documented that Mancuso denies "the ideas of original sin, the resurrection of Christ, the eternity of hell, [and that]...salvation...comes from God" in a book published in 2007. He also wrote an article that "rejected the dogma of creation and the doctrine...on contraception."

It should be pointed out that Faiola slantingly referred to Vatican City as a "benevolent dictatorship" in an April 25, 2014 item about the canonizations of Popes John XXIII and John Paul II. The president of the Media Research Center, Brent Bozell, also pointed out in an August 2010 column how the Washington Post writer argued in favor of the British government's funding of the arts, which included an anti-Catholic play where "the pope sexually abuses an altar boy through an interpretive dance."

Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center