Jesuits: Lost in Space

For the second time in recent months, the superior general of the Society of Jesus has proclaimed publicly this week that the devil is a symbol rather than a person.

Fr Arturo Sosa, the son of a Christian Socialist finance minister and superior general of the Society of Jesus on August 21st denied the article of faith that the devil is a person asserting instead that "the devil exists as a symbolic reality".

The devil, “exists as the personification of evil in different structures, but not in persons, because is not a person, is a way of acting evil. He is not a person like a human person. It is a way of evil to be present in human life,” Fr. Arturo Sosa, SJ, said Wednesday in an interview with Italian magazine Tempi.

“Good and evil are in a permanent war in the human conscience and we have ways to point them out. We recognize God as good, fully good. Symbols are part of reality, and the devil exists as a symbolic reality, not as a personal reality,” he added.

Sosa’s remarks came after he participated in a panel discussion at a Catholic gathering in Rimini, Italy, organized by the Communion and Liberation ecclesial movement.

By way of contrast, the Catechism of the Catholic teaches that:
“Satan was at first a good angel, made by God: ‘The devil and the other demons were indeed created naturally good by God, but they became evil by their own doing.’”

Angels, the Catechism says, are “spiritual, non-corporeal beings.”

“They are personal and immortal creatures,” it adds, who “have intelligence and will.”

Sosa has offered controversial comments about Satan in the past. In 2017, he told El Mundo that “we have formed symbolic figures such as the Devil to express evil.”After his 2017 remark generated controversy, a spokesman for Sosa told the Catholic Herald that
“like all Catholics, Father Sosa professes and teaches what the Church professes and teaches. He does not hold a set of beliefs separate from what is contained in the doctrine of the Catholic Church.”
However it seems very difficult to reconcile his re-affirmed position with that statement....and the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

It is common though, lots of priests and seminaries teach personified evil is a myth, it has been a highly fashionable position over the last century or so. Here in Brentwood, the priest in charge of pastoral formation and youth, Fr Dominic Howarth, teaches the youth that the devil is not real.

The existence of the devil as a personal reality, and not merely as a symbol of evil, is an article of faith (Ott, Fundamentals 126-131; CCC 395, 2851). Denial of an article of faith is an element of the canonical crime of heresy (1983 CIC 751), an act punishable by measures up to and including excommunication, dismissal from the clerical state, and/or loss of ecclesiastical office (1983 CIC 1364, 194).

It seems to me that this denial of a constant article of faith is, at the least, very, very dangerous and very naive, given that Fr Howarth, like Fr Sosa, is a Catholic priest and this is not what the Church teaches, nor what it has ever taught. This is modernism in its purest form. It is the attempt to reduce the deposit of faith to mere symbolism or metaphor, to ignore or obfuscate those parts of revelation you do not understand or you fear would be difficult for others to believe; as Pope St Paul VI puts it in Humani generis n.11:
There are many who, deploring disagreement among men and intellectual confusion, through an imprudent zeal for souls, are urged by a great and ardent desire to do away with the barrier that divides good and honest men; these advocate an "eirenism" according to which, by setting aside the questions which divide men, they aim not only at joining forces to repel the attacks of atheism, but also at reconciling things opposed to one another in the field of dogma. And as in former times some questioned whether the traditional apologetics of the Church did not constitute an obstacle rather than a help to the winning of souls for Christ, so today some are presumptive enough to question seriously whether theology and theological methods, such as with the approval of ecclesiastical authority are found in our schools, should not only be perfected, but also completely reformed, in order to promote the more efficacious propagation of the kingdom of Christ everywhere throughout the world among men of every culture and religious opinion.
And he continues in n.18:
Unfortunately these advocates of novelty easily pass from despising scholastic theology to the neglect of and even contempt for the Teaching Authority of the Church itself, which gives such authoritative approval to scholastic theology. This Teaching Authority is represented by them as a hindrance to progress and an obstacle in the way of science.
When the bright & the beautiful wonder why we have so many gifts in the Catholic Church and yet so many problems, it seems to me you need to look no further than this denial and others like it. We are divided against ourselves in the most fundamental way. If we cannot agree on the basics, how can we assume to teach what we believe as a confessing body, to others?

Canon Lawyer Dr Ed Peter's expresses what needs to be done clearly:
his remarks warrant response, not just from bloggers and scholars, but from those placed in authority over such matters.


  1. This is the whole film discussed from this episode of the World Over As far as the Priests mentioned in this this article who deny satan as symbolic and not personified evil as the Church teaches, unless they repent publicly, they are highly likely to spend enternity in his presense.


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