Pope Francis has rejected the idea that it is "old-fashioned" to speak of Satan in the 21st century, warning that Christians live in constant battle against evil and urging people to turn to the Gospel to learn how to fight against temptations.
"Maybe some of you might say: 'But Father, how old fashioned you are to speak about the devil in the 21st century!' But look out because the devil is present! The devil is here… even in the 21st century! And we mustn't be naïve, right? We must learn from the Gospel how to fight against Satan," the Roman Catholic Church leader said during Mass on Friday at the Vatican.
Satan, he said, does not want people to be disciples of Christ, and wants to distance believers from Jesus.
"The temptation of the devil has three characteristics and we need to learn about them in order not to fall into the trap. What does Satan do to distance us from the path of Jesus? Firstly, his temptation begins gradually but grows and is always growing. Secondly, it grows and infects another person, it spreads to another and seeks to be part of the community. And in the end, in order to calm the soul, it justifies itself. It grows, it spreads and it justifies itself."
Francis recalled the temptations Jesus faced in the Bible, particularly when Satan tempted Him to throw Himself down from the Temple so that people can see that He is the Messiah.
The pope warned that people need to be cautious and refuse to allow the initial temptation they are faced with to spread to others. "We are all tempted because the law of our spiritual life, our Christian life is a struggle: a struggle. That's because the Prince of this world, Satan, doesn't want our holiness, he doesn't want us to follow Christ."
In a separate speech on Friday, Francis addressed another "evil" in the face of clerical sexual abuse, promising victims that the church will continue fighting against such crimes.
"I feel compelled to personally take on all the evil which some priests, quite a few in number, obviously not compared to the number of all the priests, to personally ask for forgiveness for the damage they have done for having sexually abused children," Francis told members of the International Catholic Child Bureau whom he received Friday in audience at the Vatican.
"The Church is aware of this damage, it is personal, moral damage carried out by men of the Church, and we will not take one step backward with regards to how we will deal with this problem, and the sanctions that must be imposed. On the contrary, we have to be even stronger. Because you cannot interfere with children," he added.