In a recent statement, Pope Francis blamed the devil for trying to undermine the Roman Catholic Church with the ongoing sexual abuse scandals the church has been facing (you can check out my previous posts about the church's sex scandals here).
In a statement on September 29th, Francis said, “(The Church must be) saved from the attacks of the malign one, the great accuser and at the same time be made ever more aware of its guilt, its mistakes, and abuses committed in the present and the past.”
Francis is so certain that Satan is behind the fractious division rocking the church, the laity, and people the world over regarding the scandals, that he is calling upon Catholics to recite the rosary daily in October, and conclude it with a special prayer to St. Michael the Archangel.
The prayer to Michael reads: “St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, O Prince of heavenly hosts, by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan, and all evil spirits, who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls.”
That prayer to Michael used to follow Catholic masses until 1964, when it faded from use.
Michael is mentioned a few times in the Bible, including the Book of Revelation, where Michael leads an army of angels in battle against Satan and his fallen angels. Michael defeats Satan, who is cast down to Earth with his fallen angels (Revelation 12:7-9).
Last month, I wrote about a statement that Francis made regarding how he felt it was not proper to hold the church to modern standards regarding their system of abuse and cover-up. Why? Because many other groups in history have committed horrible crimes and covered them up, so the church should get a free pass if those other groups got away with it.
That was his reasoning.
Francis also wrote a letter back in August following the release of a grand jury report in Pennsylvania that detailed decades of abuse carried out at six of the dioceses. In that letter Francis wrote, "Penance and prayer will help us to open our eyes and our hearts to other people’s sufferings and to overcome the thirst for power and possessions that are so often the root of those evils."
His solution to the problem of rampant abuse and cover-up in the church is penance and prayer. And now he wants to enlist the Archangel Michael with some of those prayers to fight the devil, who is clearly to blame for all this.
With stories like this continuing week after week, it comes as no surprise that a recent Pew Research poll found that U.S. Catholics are increasingly critical and dissatisfied with the way the pope is handling these scandals. The pope's approval rating has dropped to its lowest point regarding his handling of these cases since the first Pew survey done in February 2014.
Some are calling for the pope's resignation, others are wondering if the church can survive these scandals, especially as more U.S. states conduct investigations similar to the one in Pennsylvania.
For my part, I certainly would be thrilled to see a world where the Roman Catholic Church is nothing but a memory.