As I engaged in my regular morning meandering in and among my usual internet haunts, I came across William Doino’s October 28, 2013, First Things article, “The Smoke of Satan Returns,” documenting Pope Francis’s having “made it a point to draw the world’s attention to the wiles of the devil.” The first of Francis’s declarations which brings to our attention is presented as follows:
Within twenty-four hours of being elected, the new pope declared: “When one does not profess Jesus Christ—I recall the phrase of Leon Bloy—‘Whoever does not pray to God, prays to the devil.’”
Allow me to object to that phrase which Francis attributes to Leon Bloy. First, God and the devil are not the only two beings to whom people pray. Setting aside the myriad beings, real and imagined, to whom non-Christians pray, there is, after all, the Mary to whom, I assume, Francis himself prays on a regular basis.
I imagine, of course, that one might counter that a Christian praying to Mary, directly, is praying indirectly to God and that, say, a Hindu praying to Kali, directly, is either praying indirectly to God, or, for the less ecumenically-minded, is praying indirectly to the devil. So let me advance a second and more immediately logical objection: It may well be that one who does not pray to God simply does not pray, in which case he or she does not pray to the devil, either.
Let me now object to the pope’s declaration in its entirety; I can express my objection simply by taking note of what it in effect declares: that one who does not profess Jesus Christ is one who prays to the devil.
One may perhaps object to my objections by saying that his statement was not so much a declaration, but an off-hand remark, an aside. That may be. If so, however, a prayer comes to at least my mind, one asking that the pope be led to be more careful in what he says. Some may take him seriously. He is, after all, the pope.
Now, to whom do you think I would direct this prayer? Or, noting that the question just posed is a complex question, …?