Emotions are high among exorcist priests—and to a great extent among the faithful—since the Superior General of the Society of Jesus described the devil as a symbolic reality. He was speaking in an interview with the Catholic weekly Tempi on August 21, 2019.
St. Ignatius and St. Francis Borgia must be turning in their graves: their distant successor, Fr. Arturo Sosa, has openly denied the personal nature of the devil. The Jesuit’s Superior General spoke while participating in the annual meeting of the Progressive Communion and Liberation movement taking place this year in Rimini, Italy.
In answer to the question, “Father, does the devil exist?”—a simple question which any child’s catechism can answer in a few words, Arturo Sosa delivered a nebulous answer. “He exists in different ways; we must understand the cultural elements in order to refer to this character.”
“In the language of St. Ignatius, it is the evil spirit that pushes you to do things that go against the spirit of God. It exists as the personification of evil in different structures, but not in persons, because it is not a person, it is a way of acting evil. He is not a person like a human person.”
The end of the response of the Jesuit General is more explicit: “symbols are part of reality and the devil exists as a symbolic reality and not as a personal reality.”
It was enough to trigger the ire of the International Association of Exorcists (IEA) who reacted strongly the day after the release of Fr. Sosa’s interview.
Qualifying the language appearing in Tempi as “grave and disturbing,” the IEA recalls that “the true existence of the devil, as a personal subject who thinks and acts and who has chosen rebellion against God, is a truth of faith that has always been part of Christian doctrine.”
It should be noted that Fr. Sosa’s vision clearly contradicts the thinking of Pope Francis—a Jesuit, like him—who, since the beginning of his pontificate, has spoken many times about Satan’s personal figure, during daily Masses celebrated at the St. Martha’s House. It would be appropriate, therefore, for the Pope to invite the Superior General of the Society of Jesus to make a retraction and amend his thinking.
In his first homily as Superior General of the Society of Jesus in October 2016, Fr. Arturo Sosa stated that “the mission of the Christian is to seek the impossible.” In the absence of the impossible, he seems to have found heresy