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Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith June 26, 1975

I. Introduction

Over the centuries, the Church has repeatedly condemned superstition in its various
forms, the obsessive preoccupation with Satan and demons, and any form of worship of, or morbid concentration on, such spirits.[1] It is, therefore, inaccurate to claim that
Christianity ever forgot the universal lordship of Christ and made Satan the preferred
subject of preaching, thus transforming the Good News of the risen Lord into a message of terror. In his day, St. John Chrysostom told the Christians of Antioch: “I certainly find no pleasure in speaking to you of the devil but the teaching which the present passage
suggests will nonetheless be of profit to you.”[2] It would indeed be a fatal mistake to act as if history were already finished and redemption had achieved all its effects, so that it
were no longer necessary to engage in the struggle of which the New Testament and the masters of the spiritual life speak.

Contemporary Disaffection

Revision of New Testament Teaching?

It is possible even today to fall into the error just mentioned. In many quarters people are, in fact, asking whether we do not need to re-examine Catholic teaching on this matter and to begin the revision back in Scripture itself. Some think that no certain doctrinal position is possible (as if the problem could be left hanging!), on the grounds that the sacred
books do not enable us either to affirm or to deny the existence of Satan and his demons. Most of the time, however, their existence is simply denied. Some critics claim they can
identify the views of Jesus himself; they maintain that no statement of his guarantees the existence of the world of demons and that where the assertion of its existence does occur it reflects Jewish ideas or is based on New Testament traditions which do not stem from
Christ. Therefore, the assertion of its existence is not a part of the central Gospel message
and is not an obligatory part of our faith to today; we are free to abandon it.

Eliminating Satan

Others are both more objective and more radical, for they accept the obvious meaning of Scriptural statements about demons but add straightway that such views are not
acceptable in today’s world, even to Christians. Thus, these people, too, end up
dismissing his teachings. For others, finally, the idea of Satan whatever its origin, is no
longer important. If we insist on trying to justify it, the credibility of our teaching will
suffer, and we will only distract from what we have to say about God, who alone is of
real interest to us.

For all these groups, the very names “Satan” and “devil” are mythical personifications of  

functions and their only purpose is to emphasize in a dramatic way the influence of evil and sin on mankind. “Satan” and “devil” are simply words which our age must interpret in order to find a new way of bringing home to Christians the duty against struggling
against all the forces of evil in the world.

Disturbance of the Faithful

These views, repeated with a display of erudition and broadcast in periodicals and some
theological dictionaries, cannot but disturb many minds. The faithful, who are used to
taking seriously the warnings of Christ and the apostolic writers, have the impression that writings of this kind are intended to effect a change of public opinion in the matter. Those of the faithful who have some acquaintance with the biblical and religious sciences are
asking how far the process of demythologization is to go under the aegis of a certain type of hermeneutics.


Such, then are the views being spread abroad, and such the mentality of that produces
them. In order to answer them, we must dwell briefly, first of all, on the New Testament, and document its authoritative testimony.

II. The World of the New Testament

Different Views of Demons

Even before we remind ourselves of the independence of mind Jesus always showed with regard to the opinions of his day, it is important to note that his contemporaries did not all share the common belief concerning angels and demons which some today seem to
attribute to them and which (in their view) himself simply reflects. In the Book of Acts
we read how a declaration of St. Paul caused a dispute among the members of Sanhedrin. At this point, the writer of Acts comments that the Sadducees, unlike the Pharisees,
admitted neither resurrection…[nor] angels nor spirits.” [Acts 23:8] In other words, as the text is understood by competent exegetes, they did not believe in the resurrection and
consequently did not believe in angels and demons either.[3] Contemporary opinion on
Satan, demons, and angels thus followed two diametrically opposed lines. How, then, can it be claimed that when Jesus exorcised and later gave the others the power to expel
demons, and then the New Testament writers in their turn accepted this, they were simply adopting, in a wholly uncritical way, the ideas and practices of the time?

There is no doubt, of course, that Christ and, much more, the apostles were men of their day and shared their culture. Jesus, however, by reason of his divine nature and the
revelation he came to communicate, transcended his situation and his age and rose above the pressures these exerted. We need only read the Sermon on the Mount to be convinced that his intellectual freedom was no less than his respect for the past.[4] When, therefore, he revealed the meaning of his redemptive activity, he evidently had to take account not  

only of the Pharisees, who believed, as he did, in the future world, the soul, spirits, and resurrection, but also the Sadducees, who did not hold these beliefs. When the former
accused him of expelling demons with the aid of the prince of demons,[Mt. 12:24, Mk. 3:22, Lk. 11:15] he could have sided with the Sadducees but then he would have denied himself and his mission. Consequently, without repudiating the belief in spirits and the resurrection, which he shared with the Pharisees, he had to dissociate himself from this group while also opposing the Sadducees.

To maintain today, therefore, that Jesus’ words about Satan express only a teaching
borrowed from his culture and are important for the faith of other believers is evidently to show little understanding either of Master’s character or of his age. If Jesus and used this kind of language and, above all, if he translated it into practice during his ministry, it was because it expressed a doctrine that was to some extent essential to the idea and reality of the salvation he was bringing.

III. The New Testament

A. The Personal Testimony of Jesus

Christ worked his major cures of possessed people at points which were decisive,
according to the accounts of his ministry. The exorcisms he performed forced people to face the question of his person and mission, and also suggested the true answer, as the reactions of these exorcisms make sufficiently clear.[5] Without ever making Satan the focus of his Gospel, Jesus nevertheless spoke of him only at evidently crucial moments and in important statements.

Jesus and Satan

To begin with, Jesus started his public ministry by allowing the devil to tempt him in the wilderness; Mark’s account, precisely because of its restraint, is as significant as those of Matthew and Luke.[6] Jesus warned his hearers against this enemy in the Sermon on the Mount and in the prayer he taught his disciples, the Our Father (as many exegetes admit today,[7] following the testimony of some liturgies[8]). In his parables he blamed Satan for the barriers set against his preaching,[9] as in the parable of the weeds sown in the
farmers field.[10] He told Simon Peter that the “power of hell” would attempt to prevail over the Church[11] and that Satan would sift him and the other disciples.[12] As he left the upper room, he predicted the imminent coming of “the Prince of this world.”[13] In Gethsemane, when the soldiers laid hands on him to arrest him, he declared that the hour of “the power of darkness”[14] had come; but he also knew, and had already said in the upper room, that “the prince of this world has been condemned.”[15]

These facts and statements – circumstantial, repeated, and consistent among themselves – are not peripheral, nor can they be treated as novelistic intrusions which need too be
demythologized. Otherwise, we would have to admit that at these critical moments the
consciousness of Jesus, despite its evident lucidity and self-mastery in face of the Jews,  

was in fact, subject to delusions and his words lacked all consistency. This would be in
sharp contrast to the impression received by the first hearers and readers of the Gospel.
The conclusion is therefore inescapable. Satan, whom Jesus attacked with his exorcisms and confronted in the wilderness and in his passion, cannot be simply a product of the
human ability to tell stories and personify ideas nor a stray survival of a primitive culture and its language.

B. The Pauline Writings

It is true that in sketching with broad strokes the situation of mankind before Christ’s
coming, St. Paul in his Letter to the Romans personifies sin and death and shows the
latter’s fearful power. When viewed in context of his teachings as a whole, this
personification is clearly not a purely literal touch but springs from his acute awareness of the importance of the cross of Jesus and the necessity of the faith Jesus requires.

Satan Distinct from Sin

Moreover, Paul does not identify sin with Satan. He sees sin first and foremost for what it really is in its essence: a personal human act leading to a state of sin and blindness into
which Satan desires to bring and keep people.[16] Paul thus clearly distinguishes Satan
from sin. The same Apostle who admits that without grace he is helpless before “the law of sin in my members”[17] is also very decisive in his urging that we resist Satan,[18] not allow him to rule us and not to give him any occasion or advantage,[19] but trample him underfoot.[20] The reason for this language is that in Paul’s eyes Satan is a personal
being, “the god of the present age,”[21] and a cunning adversary distinct both from us
and from the sin which he urges on us.

The Activity of Satan

Like the evangelists, the Apostle sees Satan at work in the history of the world; in what
he calls “the secret force of lawlessness”[22], in the unbelief which refuses to
acknowledge Jesus as Lord[23] and the aberration of idolatry[24]; in the seductive
temptations which threaten the fidelity of the Church to Christ her Spouse[25]; and,
finally, in the eschatological perversion which leads to the worship of the man who sets
himself in God’s place.[26] Satan assuredly leads people into sin but he is himself distinct from the evil he leads others to do.

C. The Apocalypse and the Gospel of John

The Apocalypse

The Apocalypse is, before all else, a splendid evocation of the power which the risen
Christ exercises in those who bear witness to his Gospel. It proclaims the triumph of the Lamb who was slain but we would completely mistake the nature of his victory if we did not see it as the climax of a long struggle in which, through the mediation of the human powers that oppose the Lord Jesus, Satan and his angels play a significant role (all these  

spirits being distinct from one another as their agents on the scene of history). The
Apocalypse emphasizes the various enigmatic names and symbols of Satan and unmasks them to show who lurks behind them.[27] Satan’s action unfolds through all the centuries of history as man lives under God’s eyes.

The Fourth Gospel

We will not be surprised, therefore, to find in the Gospel of St. John Jesus speaks of the
devil and calls him “the Prince of this world.”[28] Satan’s action on man is admittedly
interior but it is impossible to regard him as therefore simply a personification of sin and temptation. Jesus acknowledges that to sin is to be a “slave”[29] but he does not identify Satan either with this slavery or with the sin in which it is manifested. The devil has only
a moral influence on sinners, to the extent that they consent to the actions he
suggests[30]; they freely follow his “wishes”[31] and do his “works.”[32] Only in this
sense, and to this extent, is Satan the “father” of sinners,[33] for between him and the
conscience of the human person there always remains the spiritual distance separating the devil’s “lies” and the consent we can give or refuse,[34] just as between Christ and us
there will always be the distance which separates the “truth” he reveals or offers us, and
the faith with which we accept it.


It was for all these reasons that the Fathers of the Church were convinced from Scripture that Satan and the demons are the enemies of man’s redemption, and they did not fail to remind the faithful of their existence and action.

IV. General Teaching of the Fathers

As early as the second century of the Christian era Melito of Sardis wrote a work, On the devil[35]; it would be difficult to name a single Father who was completely silent on the subject. Those most concerned to shed light on the devil’s action were evidently, the
writers who were trying to show the divine plan in history, especially St. Irenaeus and
Tertullian, St. Victorinus of Pettau at a later date, and, finally, St. Augustine.

Important Patristic Views of Satan

St. Irenaeus held that the devil is an “apostate angel”[36] and that Christ, who focused on his own person the whole war this enemy was waging on us, had to confront him at the
beginning of his ministry.[37] On a broader canvas, and with a more vigorous brush, St.
Augustine showed Satan at work in the conflict between the “two cities,” a conflict which began in heaven and when God’s first creatures, the angels, chose to be faithful or
unfaithful to their Lord.[38] The society formed by sinners he regards as a mystical
“body” of the devil.[39] St. Gregory the Great will speak of this “body” later in his
Moralia in Job.[40]  

Pride and Malice of the Fallen Spirits

The majority of the Fathers reflected Origen’s idea that the fallen angels had committed a fleshly sin and, instead, saw the angels’ pride as the reason for their fall. The “pride” of
the angels was manifested in their desire to exalt themselves above their condition, to
maintain complete independence and to make themselves divine. Many Fathers,
moreover, emphasized not only the pride of the angels but their malice towards men. For St. Irenaeus, the devil’s apostasy began when he became jealous of a man and sought to
make him rebel against his Creator.[41] According to Tertullian, Satan tried to frustrate
the Lord’s plan by turning the pagan mysteries into caricatures of the Christian
sacraments.[42] Patristic teaching was thus substantially faithful to the teaching and
outlook of the New Testament.

V. The Fourth Lateran Council (1215) and its Teaching on Demons

A. The Dogmatic Statement

In the course of 20 centuries the teaching authority in the Church has made a few
dogmatic statements on the devil and the demons. The reason for this is that the occasions for such statements have been rare. In fact, there have been only two, the more important of them arising at the beginning of the 13th century when the Cathars or Albigensians
revived Manichaean or Priscillianist dualism. Yet the dogmatic statement was placed in a doctrinal framework familiar to us; it is in tune with our present day sensibilities, since it
is set within the vision of the universe and its creation by God.

“We firmly believe and profess without qualification,” that the Three Divine Persons “are the one and principle of all things – Creator of all things visible and invisible, spiritual
and corporeal, who, by his almighty power, from the very beginning of time has created both orders of creatures in the same way out of nothing, the spiritual or angelic world and the corporeal or visible universe. And afterward He formed the creature man, who in a
way belongs to both orders, as he is composed of spirit and body. For the devil and the
other demons were created by God good according to their nature, but they made
themselves evil by their own doing. As for man, his sin was at the prompting of the

In this sufficient exposition the Council says of the devil and the demons only that, being creatures of the one God, they are not evil by their very nature but became evil through
the exercise of their free will. Nothing is said of the number of demons or their precise
sin or the extent of their power. Such questions, being irrelevant to the doctrinal issue
then raised, were left to theological discussion. Yet, succinct though it is, the conciliar
statement is highly significant inasmuch as it was made by the most important council of the 13th century and was part of its profession of faith. This profession was preceded,
historically, by the professions required a short time before from the Cathars and the
Waldensians,[44] and it links up with the condemnations of the Priscillianists some
centuries later.[45]  

Two Main Themes

The profession will repay careful study. It shows the structure usual in dogmatic creeds
and readily fits into the series that began with the Council of Nicaea. According to the
part of the text we have quoted, there are from the present viewpoint, two connected
themes of equal importance for the faith: The statement about the devil, to which we will have to give special consideration, follows a statement about God as Creator of all things, “visible and invisible,” that is, of corporeal and incorporeal beings.

B. First Theme of the Council: “God as Creator of Things Visible and Invisible”

Scripture and the Fathers

This statement about the Creator and the way it is formulated are of special importance
for our subject, since they are so old the have their roots in the teaching of St. Paul. In
glorifying the risen Christ, the Apostle had said that Christ exercises dominion over all
things “in the heavens, on the earth and under the earth,”[46] “in this age [and] in the age to come.”[47] Moreover, in affirming the pre-existence of Christ, Paul taught that “in him everything in heaven and on earth was created, things visible and invisible.”[48]

This doctrine of creation soon became very important in the Christian faith, because the
Gnostics and the Marecionites tried for a long time to weaken it, in the period before
Manichaeism and Priscillianism. The first creeds regularly stated that “things visible and invisible were all created by God.” This teaching, put forth by the First Council of Nicaea and the First Council of Constantinople,[49] and then by the Council of Toledo,[50] was included in the creeds which the major Churches used in the rites of baptism.[51] It was also part of the great Eucharistic Prayers of St. James at Jerusalem,[52] of St. Basil in
Asia Minor and at Alexandria,[53] and of the other Eastern Churches.[54] Among the
Greek Fathers it appears as early as St. Irenaeus[55] and the Expositio fidei of St.
Ahtanasius.[56] In the West, we find it in St. Gregory of Elvira,[57] St. Augustine,[58]
St. Fulgentius,[59] and so on.

At the time when the Cathars in the West, like the Bogomils in Eastern Europe, were
reviving Manichaean dualism, Lateran IV could not do better in its profession of faith
than to renew this declaration in its now traditional form. Henceforth, this dogmatic
statement would be crucially important. It was soon repeated in the profession of faith
issued by the Second Council of Lyons,[60] the Council of Florence(61) and the Council of Trent,[62] and reappeared, in the terms of Lateran IV, in the Dogmatic Constitution on the Catholic Faith (Dei Filius) of Vatican I.[63]

We have here, then, a basic and constant affirmation of faith, which Lateran IV
providentially emphasized in order to connect it with the conciliar statement on Satan and the demons. By so doing, the Council indicated that this subject, though important in its
own right, belonged in the broader context of the teaching on creation in general and faith in the existence of angelic beings.  

C. Second Theme of the Council: The Devil

1. The Text

The statement on demons is far from being presented as a novelty called forth by
circumstances and reached by way of doctrinal implication or theological deduction. On
the contrary, it appears as a truth long since firmly established. The very formulation
shows this, for, after affirming the creation of all things, the document does not pass to
the devil and the demons as a logical conclusion. It does not say: “Therefore, Satan and
the demons were created naturally good,” as it would have had to say if this statement
were something new and deduced from what had just been affirmed. Instead, it presents
Satan as a proof of the preceding argument against dualism. It says: “For the devil and the other demons were created by God good according to their nature.” In other words, the
proposition about Satan and the demons is offered as an undisputed statement of the
Christian mind. This is an important aspect of the document and the one that was
inevitable, given the historical circumstances.

2. Preparation

a. Positive and Negative Formulations (Fourth-Fifth Centuries)

The Traditional Teaching

Ever since the fourth century the Church had taken a position against the Manichaean
thesis of two coeternal and opposed principles.[64] In both the East and the West it had
taught unhesitatingly that Satan and the demons were not only created but created
naturally good. To the newly baptized St. Gregory Nazianzus says: You must believe that there exists nothing that is evil by essence, nor any kingdom [of evil], whether without a beginning or subsisting by itself or created by God.”[65]

The devil was looked upon as a creature of God; he was originally good and filled with
light but, unfortunately, did not persevere in the truth in which he had been created [65a] but rebelled against the Lord.[66] The evil, therefore, came not from his nature but from a contingent act of his free will.[67] Statements to this effect – which can be found in St.
Basil,[68] St. Gregory Nazianzus,[69] St. John Chrysostom,[70] and Didymus of
Alexandria[71] in the East, and in Tertullian,[72] St. Eusibius of Vercelli,[73] St.
Ambrose,[74] and St. Augustine[75] in the West – could readily be put into firm dogmatic form when needed.

In the Form of Anathemas

The De Trinitate attributed to St. Eusibius of Vercelli expresses the doctrine
unhesitatingly in a series of anathemas: “If anyone maintains that the fallen angels were not in their original nature created by God but are self-subsistent so as to be their own
principle of existence, let him be anathema. If anyone maintains that God created the  

fallen angels evil, and does not assert they became evil through the exercise of their own free will, let him be anathema. If anyone maintains, far be it from us! that an angel of
Satan made the world, and does not affirm that all sin came through Satan, let him be

The anathema form of this passage was not wholly unique at this period; we find it used
again in the Commonitorium which was attributed to St. Augustine and written for use in the abjuration of Manichaeism. This instruction anthemizes “anyone who maintains there are two natures, originating from two disparate principles: one nature being good (the one from God) and the other evil and not created by him.”[77]

In Positive Form

Writers generally preferred, however, to express this same teaching in the direct and
positive form of a statement to be accepted in faith. At the beginning of his De Genesi ad literam liber imperfectus, St. Augustine writes: “Catholic teaching bids us believe that the Trinity is one God who has made and created all things that exist, insofar as they do exist. Consequently, no creature, intellectual of corporeal (or, to use the succinct language of
the divine Scripture: invisible or visible [cf. Col. 1:16]) is part of the divine nature, but
has been made, and made by none other than God.”[78]

In Spain, the First Council of Toledo likewise professed that God is the Creator of “all [things] visible and invisible” and that apart from him “there exists no divine nature,
angel, spirit, or power that can be regarded as God.”[79]

Thus, from the fourth century on, Christian faith, as taught and lived, found expression in this area in two dogmatic formulations, one positive and one negative. We will come
upon them again, eight centuries later, in the time of Innocent III and the Fourth Lateran Council.

b. St. Leo the Great

St. Leo’s Reply to Bishop Turibius

In the interval, however, the dogmatic expressions we have been examining did not fall
into disuse. On the contrary: in the fifth century, Pope St. Leo, in his letter to Bishop
Turibius of Astorga (the authenticity of which is now beyond doubt), spoke with the
same tone and the same clarity. Among the Prisciliianist errors he condemned, the
following were to be found: “As your sixth point shows,[80] they maintain that the devil was never good, nor was his nature God’s handiwork; that he came forth from the abyss
of darkness, since no one created him, but rather he is both the source and the substance
of all evil. The true Catholic faith, on the contrary, professes that the being of all
creatures, be they spiritual or corporeal, is good, and that no being is by nature evil, since God, Creator of all things, made nothing that is not good. The devil, therefore, would be
good in every sense if he had continued as God made him. When, however, he abused the excellence that was his by his origin and ‘did not abide in the truth’ (John 8:44), he did not  

change his nature but he did rebel against the supreme Good to which he should have adhered.”[81]

Influence of the Letter

The doctrinal statement (from the words, “The true Catholic faith…professes,” to the end) was regarded as so important that it was repeated verbatim among the additions made in the sixth century to the De ecclesiasticis dogmatibus of Gennadius of Marseilles.[82] The same doctrine would be authoritatively taught in St. Fulgentius’ Regula ad Petrum. The
Saint there says we must “maintain before all else,” and “maintain unwaveringly,” that
whatever is not God is God’s creature; that this is true of all things “visible and invisible”; that “some of the angels deliberately turned away from God their Creator who was the
sole source of their happiness; and that “evil does not have substance or nature.”[83]

Given this historical background, we are not at all surprised that the Statuta Ecclesiae
antiqua, a canonical collection of the fifth century, should include the following question among those to be asked concerning the Catholic faith of candidates for the episcopate:
“Was the devil evil by nature or did he become evil through the misuse of his free
will?[84] The same formula will recur in the profession of faith which Innocent III
required of the Waldensians.[85]

c. First Council of Braga (6th Century)

The teaching was, therefore, common and firmly held. The many documents which give expression to it (we have pointed out the main ones) provided the doctrinal background for the First Council of Braga in the middle of the sixth century. Against the background of the seventh canon issued by the Synod is seen to be not an isolated text but a
summation of fourth and fifth century teaching on the subject, and especially of the
teaching of St. Leo the Great: “If anyone maintains that the devil was not originally a
good angel created by God and that his nature did not come from God’s hand, but claims instead, as Mani and Priscillian do, that he emerged from the abyss of darkness and was not brought into being by anyone, but is himself the source of substance of evil, let him be anathema.”[86]

3. The Coming of the Cathars (12th and 13th Centuries)

The belief that the devil is a creature and that he turned away from God by a free act had thus been long explicit elements in the faith of the Church. At the Fourth Lateran
Council, therefore, these statements had simply to be introduced into the conciliar
profession of faith; there was no need to document them, because they represented beliefs which evidently were held by the Church. The insertion of these statements into a creed, which from a dogmatic viewpoint could have been done at and earlier time, had by now
become a necessity, since the Cathars were making certain ancient Manichaean errors a
part of their own heresy. In the 12th and 13th centuries numerous professions of faith had had to reassert that God is Creator of all things “visible and invisible,” as well as the
author of the two Testaments, and specifically, that the devil was not evil by nature but  

had become evil as the result of a free choice.[87]

The Contemporary Scene

The old dualist views, as part of a broad doctrinal and spiritual movement, were doing
real harm to the faith in Southern France and Northern Italy. Ermengaud of the Beziers
had had to write a treatise against those heretics “who maintain and believe that our world and all visible things were created not by God but by the devil,” and that there exist both
a good and omnipotent God and evil god, namely the devil.[88] In Northern Italy,
Bonacursus, a convert from Catharism, had already sounded the alarm and described the various schools within the sect.[89] The Summa contra haereticos which appeared
shortly afterward for a long time was attributed to Prepositinus of Cremona, is more to
the point for us, since it tells of the impact the dualist heresy had on the teaching of that

The treatment of the Catharist position in Summa begins as follows: “Almighty God –
this heretic says – created only invisible, incorporeal beings. The devil – whom he calls
the god of darkness – created visible and corporeal beings. After saying this, the heretic
says that there are two sources of existing things, the source of good (almighty God) and the source of evil (the devil). Moreover, two kinds of nature exist: One is good, belongs
to incorporeal beings and was created by almighty God; the other is evil, belongs to
corporeal beings and was created by the devil. The heretic who holds these views used to be called a Manichaean in earlier times; today he is called a Cathar.”[90]

The Book of Two Principles

This summary, brief as it is, important for its very compactness. Nowadays, we are in a
position to supplement it with the Book of Two Principles, which was written by a
Carthist theologian shortly after the Fourth Lateran Council.[91] This little handbook for the use of militants in the sect goes deeply into the details of the Carthist arguments and
bases them on Sacred Scripture. Its aim is to refute the doctrine of a single Creator and to prove from the Bible the existence of two ultimate and contrary principles.[92] Alongside the good God, it says, “we must acknowledge the existence of another principle, which is the source of evil and maliciously opposes the true God and his creatures.”[93]

D. Value of the Fourth Lateran Statement

At the beginning of the 13th century, these last assertions were far from being the views simply of intellectuals and specialists. They reflected a set of erroneous beliefs which
inspired, and were spread by, a multitude of interconnected, well-organized and active sect groups. The Church was forced to intervene and to repeat as forcefully as possible the doctrinal statements of earlier centuries. This is what Pope Innocent III did when he inserted the two dogmatic propositions we have been examining into the profession of
faith drawn up by the Fourth Lateran Council. The profession was officially read to the bishops and they approved it; they were asked, “Do you believe everything contained
herein?” and all relied, “We do.”[94] The conciliar document in its entirety, then, is a  

statement of the faith, by reason of its nature and form, which are those of a creed, each main point has a dogmatic value.

Interpreting a Profession of Faith

It would clearly be erroneous to maintain that each section of a profession of faith must
contain only one dogmatic statement. This would apply to a profession of faith a
principle of interpretation that is valid in the case, for example, of a decree of the Council of Trent, in which each chapter usually concentrates on a single dogmatic theme: The
necessity of preparing ourselves for justification,[95] the real presence of Christ in the
Eucharist,[96] and so on.

The first section of Lateran IV’s profession of faith, on the contrary, though equal in
number of lines to the chapter of Trent on “the gift of perseverance,”[97] contains a
number of affirmations of faith (most of them already defined) concerning the oneness of God, the Trinity and the equality of the Persons, the simplicity of their nature, the
“processions” of the Son and the Holy Spirit. It also contains the doctrine on creation and especially the two statements on the creation by God of all beings corporeal and
incorporeal as well as on the creation of the devil and on his sin. As we have already
shown, these points had been part of the Church’s express teaching in the fourth and fifth centuries. When the Council made them part of its own creed, it simply recognized the
fact that they belonged to the universal rule of faith.

The assertion that demons exist and have power is not based solely on these more
categorical documents. They find another, more general and less formal expression in conciliar statements every time the condition of man without Christ is described.

VI. Traditional Teaching of Popes and Councils

Pope St. Leo the Great

Toward the middle of the fifth century, on the eve of the Council of Chalcedon, the Tome which St. Leo the Great addressed to Flavian specified one purpose of the economy of
salvation by speaking of Christ’s victory over death and over the devil who, according to the Letter to the Hebrews, was prince of death.[98]

Councils of Florence and Trent

Later, when the Council of Florence spoke of redemption, it portrayed it in biblical terms as a liberation from the domination of Satan.[99] The Council of Trent, summing up the teaching of St. Paul, asserted that sinful man is “under the power of the devil and
death.”[100] In saving us, God “has rescued us from the power of darkness and
transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption and
remission of sins,”[101] while those who sin after baptism “have given themselves over to…the power of the devil.”[102]  

This is, in fact, the primitive and universal faith of the Church as attested from the first centuries in the liturgy of Christian initiation. Here, just before the baptism, the
catechumens renounce Satan, profess their faith in the Blessed Trinity and dedicate
themselves to Christ their Savior.[103]

It was with this traditional teaching in mind that the Second Vatican Council, being more concerned with the present life of the Church than with the doctrine of creation, did not
fail to warn us against the activity of Satan and the demons. Vatican II, like the Councils of Florence and Trent before it, has once again proclaimed with the Apostle that Christ
came to “rescue” us “from the power of darkness.”[104] Using the Scriptural language of St. Paul and the Apocalypse, the conciliar Constitution on the Church in the World Today says that “a monumental struggle against the powers of darkness pervades the whole
history of man. The battle was joined in the very beginning of the world and will
continue until the last day, as the Lord has said.”[105][cf. Mt. 24:13; 13:24-34 and 36-43]

Elsewhere Vatican II renews the warning issued by the Letter to the Ephesians that we
must “put on the armor of God so that you may be able to stand firm against the tactics of the devil.”[106] For, as the same document reminds the laity, “or battle is not against
human forces but against the principalities and powers, the rulers of this world of
darkness, the evil spirits in regions above.”[107]

We are not surprised, finally, to see that when the Council wishes to present the Church as God’s kingdom that has already begun, it appeals to the miracles of Jesus and
specifically to his exorcisms.[108] For, it was precisely with reference to exorcisms that Jesus made the well-known statement: “The reign of God is upon you.”[109]

The liturgy, to which we have already had occasion to refer, offers an especially valuable witness, since the liturgy is the concrete expression of the faith as it is actually lived. We should not ask the liturgy, however, to satisfy our curiosity about the nature, categories
and names of the demons. The function of the liturgy in this area is simply to emphasize the existence of demons and the danger they represent for Christians. The liturgy directly echoes the New Testament teaching when it reminds us that the life of the baptized is a
struggle, carried on with the grace of Christ and the strength of his Spirit, against the
world, the flesh and the demonic beings.[110]

We must be careful today in using the argument from the liturgy. On the one hand, the sacramental rights of the Eastern Churches, with their accumulated wealth of detail and complicated demonology, are likely to mislead us. On the other, the documents of the
Latin liturgy have often been revised in course of the centuries. This very fact should
cause us to be prudent in the conclusions we draw.

Liturgical Rites of the Past

The ancient Latin rite of public penance gave forceful expression to the action of the devil in sinners; unfortunately, these texts, though still preserved in the Roman  

Pontifical,[111] have long since fallen into disuse. Until 1972 we could also have cited
the prayer in the Recommendation of the Departing Soul to God, which evoked the
horrors of hell and the final assaults of the devil[112] but these expressive texts have now disappeared from use.

The special ministry of the exorcist, though not totally abolished, has in our time been reduced to a remotely possible service which may be rendered only at the request of the bishop[113]; in fact, there is now no rite for the conferring of this ministry. Such an
attitude to exorcism evidently does not mean that priests no longer have the power to
exorcize or that they may no longer use it. Since, however, the Church no longer makes exorcism a special ministry, it no longer attributes to exorcisms the important role they had in the early centuries of its life. This development must certainly be taken into

We must not conclude from these changes in the rites that the liturgy now shows a
lessening or revision of the traditional faith. The Roman Missal of 1970 bears witness to the Church’s convictions regarding the activity of demons.

a) The Gospels

Now, as in the past, the liturgy for the Second Sunday of Lent reminds the faithful of how the Lord Jesus overcame the tempter; the three Synoptic accounts of the incident appear
successively in the Mass readings of the three-year cycle. The “Proto-Evangel” (Genesis 3:15) with its promise of victory for the seed of the woman over the seed of the serpent,
is read on the 10th Sunday of Year B and on Saturday of the Fifth Week. On the Feast of the Assumption and in the Common of the Blessed Virgin we read Apocalypse 12:1-6, on the dragon’s threat to the woman who is giving birth. Mark 3:20-35, which relates the
exchange between Jesus and the Pharisees concerning Beelzebul, is another of the
readings for the 10th Sunday of Year B.

The parable of the wheat and the weeds (Matthew 13:23-43) is read on the 15th Sunday of the Year A, and the explanation of the parable (Matthew 13:36-46) on the on
Wednesday of the 13th Week. The promise that the prince of this world will be defeated (John 12:20-33) is read on the Fifth Sunday of Lent (Year B), and John 14:30 during the following week.

b)The Apostolic Letters

Among the readings from the Apostles, Ephesians 2:1-10 is assigned to the Monday of the 29th Week; Ephesians 6:10-20, to the Common of the Saints and to Thursday of the 13th Week. 1 John 3:7-10 is read on January 4, while the Feast of St. Mark has the
passage from the First Letter of Peter which speaks of the devil circling his prey as he
prepares to devour it.

Many more passages would be cited if we wanted a complete list but the examples given show that the most important Scriptural texts on the devil are still part of the Church’s  

official lectionary.

The Sacramental Rites

a) Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults

It is true that the rite of Christian initiation of adults has been altered and no longer
addresses commands to the devil. It achieves the same purpose, however, by turning to God in prayer.[114] The language is less striking but is nonetheless expressive and
effective. Consequently, it is an error to claim that exorcisms have been eliminated from the new ritual for Baptism. The error is, in fact, perfectly obvious, since the new rite for the catechumenate has even introduced hitherto unknown “minor” exorcisms throughout the period of the catechumenate, before the “major” exorcisms.[115]

b) Exorcisms in the Baptismal Rite

The exorcisms remain, then. Now, as in the past, they ask for victory over “Satan,” “the
devil,” “the prince of this world” and the “power of darkness,” while the three traditional “scrutinies,” during which the exorcisms take place, as in the past, have the negative and positive aims they always had: To free the catechumens from sin and the devil, and, at the same time, to strengthen them in Christ.[116] The rite of infant Baptism, too, whatever
people may think, still has an exorcism.[117] This does not mean that the Church
considers these children to be possessed by Satan: the Church does, however, believe that they, too, need all the effects of redemption wrought by Christ. Before baptism every
person, child or adult, bears the mark of sin and Satan’s action.

c) Liturgy of Penance

The liturgy of private Penance has less to say of the devil than in the past. On the other hand, communal penance services have brought back an old prayer which mentions the influence of Satan on sinners.[118]

d) Liturgy of the Sick

In the ritual of the sick, as we already pointed out, the prayer in the Recommendation of
the Departing Soul to God no longer emphasizes the disquieting presence of Satan. In the course of the anointing, however, the celebrant prays that the sick person “be freed from sin and every temptation.”[119] The sacred oil is regarded as a “protection for body, soul, and spirit,”[120] and the prayer Commendo te, without mentioning hell and the devil,
indirectly refers to their existence and action when it asks Christ to save the dying person and number him or her among “his” sheep and “his” chosen ones. The language used is
evidently intended to avoid upsetting the sick person and his family but it derives
nevertheless from the faith in the mystery of evil.

VII. Conclusion  

The Existence of Satan is a Matter of Faith

To sum up: The position of the Catholic Church on demons is clear and firm. The
existence of Satan and the demons has indeed never been the object of an explicit
affirmation by the Magisterium but this is because the question was never put in those
terms. Heretics and faithful alike, on the basis of Scripture, were in agreement on the existence and chief misdeeds of Satan and his demons.

For this reason, when doubt is thrown these days on the reality of the devil we must, as
we observed earlier, look to the constant and universal faith of the Church and to its chief source, the teaching of Christ. It is in the teaching of the Gospel and in the heart of the
faith as lived that the existence of the world of demons is a revealed dogma. The
contemporary disaffection which we criticized at the beginning of this essay is, therefore, not simply a challenge to a secondary element of Christian thought but a direct denial of the constant faith of the Church, its way of conceiving redemption, and (at the source of both of these) the very consciousness of Jesus himself.

Therefore, when speaking recently of evil as this “terrible reality, mysterious and
frightening,” His Holiness Paul VI could assert with authority: “It is a departure from the picture provided by biblical and Church teaching to refuse to acknowledge the Devil’s
existence; to regard him as a self-sustaining principle who, unlike other creatures, does
not owe his origin to God; or to explain the Devil as a pseudo-reality, a conceptual and
fanciful personification of the unknown causes of our misfortunes.”[121] Exegetes and
theologians should not be deaf to this warning.

Neither Dualism nor Rationalist Reduction

We repeat, therefore that, though still emphasizing in our day the real existence of the demonic, the Church has no intention either of taking us back to the dualist and
Manichaean speculations of the past or of proposing an alternative explanation more acceptable to reason. Its desire is simply to remain faithful to the Gospel and its

Men Are Responsible for the Evil They Do

The Church has evidently never allowed men to shrug off their own responsibility by blaming their sins on the devil. It has not hesitated to speak out against such evasion when it appears; with Chrysostom it has said: “It is not the devil but men’s own
carelessness that is responsible for all their falls and for all the misfortunes they

In this area, Christian teaching with its energetic defense of man’s liberty and dignity and its emphasis on the omnipotence and goodness of the Creator refuses to yield ground. It has condemned in the past, and will always condemn, any excessive readiness of man to excuse himself on the grounds that the devil tempted him. It has proscribed both  

superstition and magic; it has rejected every doctrinal capitulation to fatalism and every abdication of liberty in the face of violence.

Critical Attitude to Claims of Diabolical Intervention

In speaking, moreover, of a possible diabolical intervention, the Church always takes a
critical stance, as it does in speaking of a possible miracle. In all these matters the Church asks for reserve and prudence. And, in fact, it is easy to fall victim to imagination and to let oneself be led astray by reports that are inaccurate, poorly transmitted or tendentiously interpreted, In these, as in other cases, discernment must be exercised and room left for
investigation and its results.

Yet the Devil is Real and to be Feared

All of these considerations notwithstanding, the Church is simply being faithful to the
example of Christ when it asserts that the warning of St. Peter to be “sober” and alert is
always relevant.[123] In our day, we must indeed defend ourselves against a new
“intoxication” with Satan. But technical knowledge and power, too, can intoxicate! Man
today is proud of his discoveries, and often with good reason, But, in the area we are here discussing, is it certain that man’s penetrating analyses have explained all the phenomena that characteristically manifest the presence of the devil? Is there nothing problematic left in this area? Have exegesis and the study of the Fathers solved all the difficulties that lurk in the texts? Nothing is less certain!

Modern Man Can be Naive

In other periods of history, men were certainly somewhat naive in expecting to meet one or other demon at the crossroads of their minds. But would it not be just as naive today to assume that our methods have enabled us to say the last word about those deep places of the mind where the relations between the soul and body, between the supernatural, the
preternatural, and the human, and between revelation and reason all intertwine? These
matters have always been regarded as vast and complicated. Our contemporary methods, like those of earlier generations, have insurmountable limitations. Modesty, which, after all, is a characteristic of true intelligence, must always have place and help us keep to the right path. This virtue takes account of the future and enables the Christian to make room for the contribution of revelation, or, to put it in a single word, for faith.

The Importance of Faith

It is, in fact, to faith that St. Peter ant Apostle appeals when he urges us to resist the devil as men “solid in your faith.” Faith tells us that evil is “a living, spiritual being that is
perverted and perverts others.”[124] Faith is also a source of confidence, for it assures us, in addition, that while the devil is able to tempt, he cannot extort our consent. Most of all, faith opens the heart to prayer, wherein it finds triumph and crown, for prayer wins for us the victory over evil, thanks to God’s grace.  

Evil is a Mystery

It is certain that the reality of the devil, as concretely attested by what we call the mystery of evil, is today, as always, an enigma surrounding the Christian’s life. We are little wiser than the Apostles as to why the Lord permits it and how he makes it serve his purposes.
Yet, it may be that in our civilization, which is so secularized and so focused on the
horizontal plane of man’s life, unexpected manifestations of this mystery have a meaning not impossible to ascertain. For, such manifestations oblige us to look further and higher, beyond immediate evidences. The insolent threats with which the evil darkens our path
enable us to glimpse the existence of a beyond which challenges us to understand it and
then turn to Christ so that we may hear from him the Good News of the salvation he
graciously offers us.


1. The firm stand of the Church with regard to superstition can be explained in part by the severity of the Mosaic Law, even if the latter was not formally motivated by the link
between superstition and demons. Ex. 22:17, for example, without any explanation,
decrees the death penalty for sorcery. Lev. 19:26 and 31 prohibits soothsaying, astrology, necromancy, and divination, and Lev. 20:27 adds the conjuring up of spirits. Dt. 18:10
proscribes diviners, fortune-tellers, soothsayers, charmers, spell-casters, those who
consult ghosts and spirits, and those who seek oracles from the dead. – In Europe during
the early Middle Ages many pagan superstitions were still alive, as is clear from the
sermons of St. Caesarius of Arles and St. Eligius, Martin of Braga’s De correctione
rusticorum, the contemporary lists of superstitions (see, e.g., the Concilium Leptinense of 743 in PL 89, 810-818), and the penitential books. The Council of Toledo (in Denzinger- Schonmetzer[henceforth DS], Enchiridion symbolorum, definitonum et declarationnum
de rebus fidei et morum, 32nd ed. [Rome, 1963], no. 205 henceforth DS) and later the
Council of Braga (DS, no. 459) condemned astrology, as did Pope St. Leso the Great in
his letter to Bishop Turibius of Astorga (DS, no. 483). The Council of Trent’s Ninth Rule on the prohibition of books banned books on cheiromancy, necromancy, etc. (DS, no.
1859). Magic and sorcery have been the occasion for a few papal Bulls (Innocent VIII,
Leo X, Hadrian VI, Gregory XV, Urban VIII) and many decrees of regional councils. On magnetism and spiritism, see especially the letter of the Holy Office, August 14, 1856
(DS, nos. 283-285).

2. St. John Chrysostom, De diablo tentatore homilia, 1: Greek Fathers [henceforth PG] 49, 257-258.

3. Acts 23:8. Given the Jewish beliefs in angels and evil spirits, nothing obliges us to
limit the generic term “spirits” in Acts 23:8 to the spirits of the dead; it also refers to evil spirits, or demons. This is the view of two Jewish writers (G.F. Moore, Judaism in the
First Centuries of the Christian Era [Cambridge, 1927], 1:68; M. Simon, Les sectes
juives au temps de Jesus [Paris, 1960], p. 25), and a Protestant (R. Meyer, “Saddoukaios,” Theological Dictionary of the New Testament 7:54).  

4. When Jesus said, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets. I have come not to abolish them, but to fulfill them” (Mt. 5:17), he clearly showed his
respect for the past; the next verses (18-19) confirm this interpretation. On the other hand, his condemnation of divorce (Mt. 5:31), the law of retaliation (5:38), etc., illustrate his
complete independence as opposed to any desire simply to take over and complete the
past. The same can be said, with even greater reason, of his condemnation of the
Pharisees’ exaggerated attachment to ancestral tradition (Mk. 7:1-22).

5. Mt. 8:28-34, 12:22-45. Even if we admit variations in the meaning of each Synoptic writer assigns to the exorcisms, we must also recognize the extensive convergence
between them.

6. Mk. 1:12-13

7. See Mt. 5:37, 6:13, and Jean Carmagnac, Recherches sur le “Notre Pere” (Paris, 1969), pp.305-319. This is also the interpretation of the Greek Fathers generally and some of the Western writers (Tertullian, St. Ambrose, Cassian). But St. Augustine and the Libera nos
prayer of the Roman Mass led to an impersonal interpretation of the phrase.

8. See E. Renaudot, Liturgiarum Orientalum collectio 2 (Paris, 1716); H. Denzinger,
Ritus Orientalium (2nd ed., 1961), 2:436. This also seems to be the interpretation
followed by Pope Paul VI in an address to a general audience November 15, 1972, since he speaks of “evil” as a living, spiritual principle; cf. L’Osservatore Romano, November 16, 1972 [TPS XVII, 316].

9. See Mt. 13:19.

10. See Mt. 13:39.

11. Mt. 16:18 as understood by J. Jouon, M.-J. Lagrange, A. Mediebielle, D. Buzy, M. Meinertz, W. Trilling, J. Jeremias, and others. It is incomprehensible, then, that anyone today should neglect Mt. 16:18 and concentrate solely on 16:23.

12. See Lk. 22:31.

13. Jn. 14:30

14. Lk. 22:53; see Lk. 22:3. The latter verse suggests, as the exegetes have recognized, that the evangelist understands this “power of darkness” to be a personal being.

15. Jn. 16:11

16. See Eph. 2:1-2, 2 Thes. 2:11, 2 Cor. 4:4.

17. Rom. 7:23, see Gal. 5:17.  

18. See Eph. 6:11-16.

19. See Eph. 4:27, 1 Cor. 7:5.

20. See Rom. 16:20.

21. 2 Cor. 4:4

22. 2 Thes. 2:7 [The words are translated “mystery of iniquity” in older versions of the New Testament.]

23. See 2 Cor. 4:4, a passage invoked by Paul VI in the allocution already mentioned in note 8, above [TPS SVII, 317].

24. See 1 Cor. 10:19-20, Rom. 1:21-22. This is the interpretation of the passage as
adopted by Vatican II’s Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, no. 16: “But quite often
men, deluded by the evil one, have become vain in their reasonings; they have exchanged God’s truth for a lie, serving creature instead of Creator (cf. Rom. 1:21-25” [TPS X, 370].

25. See 2 Cor. 11:3.

26. See 2 Thes. 2:3-4, 9-11.

27. See Apoc. 12:9.

28. Jn. 12:31, 14:30, 16:11

29. Jn. 8:34

30. See Jn. 8:38, 44.

31. Jn. 8:44

32. Jn. 8:41

33. Ibid.

34. Jn. 8:38-44

35. See Johannes Quasten, Patrology 1 (Westminster, Md., 1951), p. 246

36. Adversus Haereses V, 24,3: PG 7, 1188A

37. Adversus Haereses V, 21, 2: PG 7, 1179C-1180A  

38. De civitate Dei XI, 9: Latin Fathers [henceforth PL] 41, 323-325

39. De Genesi ad litteram XI, 24, 31: PL 34, 441-442

40. Morailia in Job XXIII, 17, 33: PL 76, 694; XXIII, 28, 49: col. 705; XXIV, 4, 8: col. 722

41. Adversus Haereses IV, 11,3: PG 7, 113C

42. De praescriptionibus, 40; PL 2, 54; De ieiuniis, 16: PL 2, 977

43. The Latin test is given in Conciliorum Oecumemicorum Decreta [henceforth COD],
edited by Joseph Alberigo et al. (3rd ed.; Bologna, 1973), p. 230, and in DS, no. 800. The translation is from The Church Teaches, translated by John F. Clarkson et al. (St. Louis, 1955), no. 306, p. 132. The Latin text is as follows: “Firmiter credimus et simpliciter
confitemur…unum universorum principium, creator omnium invisibilium et visibilium,
spiritualium et corporalium, qui sua omnipotenti virtute simul ab initio temporis,
utramque de nihilo condidit creaturam, spiritualem et corporalem, angelicam scilicet
mundanam, ac deinde quasi communem ex spiritu et corpore constitutam. Diabolus enim et daemones alii a Deo quidem natura creati sunt boni, sed per se facti sunt mali. Homo
vero diaboli suggestione peccavit.”

44. The first profession, chronologically, was that formulated by the Synod of Lyons
(1179-1181) and pronounced by Waldo (edited by A. Dondaine in Archivum Fratum
Praedicatorum 16 [1946] 231 ff.); then came the profession required of Durandus of
Huesca before the bishop of Tarragona in 1208 (PL 215, 1510-1513); finally, there was
the profession made by Bernadus Primus in 1210 (PL 216, 289-292). The three
professions are collated in DS, nos. 790-797.

45. At the Council of Braga, Portugal, in 560-563 (DS, nos. 451-464).

46. Phil. 2:10

47. Eph. 1:21

48. Col. 1:16

49. COD, pp. 5 and 24; DS nos. 125 and 150

50. DS, no. 188

51. For Jerusalem, see DS, no. 41; for Cyprus (testimony of St. Epiphanius of Salamis), see DS, no. 44; for Alexandria, DS, no. 46; for Antioch, DS, no. 50; for Armenia, DS no. 48; etc.

52. See Prex Eucharistica [henceforth PE], edited by A. Hanggi and I. Pahl (Fribourg,  

1968), p. 244.

53. See PE, pp. 232 and 348.

54. See PE, pp. 327, 332, 382.

55. Adversus haereses II, 30, 6; PG 7, 818B

56. PG 25, 199-200

57. De fide orthodoxa adversus Arianos, among the works attributed to St. Ambrose (PL 17, 549) and to St. Phoebadius (PL 20, 49)

58. De Genesi ad litteram liber imperfectus, 1, 1-2: PL 34, 221

59. De fide liber unus, 3, 25: PL 65, 683

60. This profession of faith subscribed to by Emperor Michael Paleologus and preserved by Hardouin and Mansi in the Acts of this Council, is readily accessible in DS, no. 851. COD omits it without giving a reason (at Vatican I the official expositor invoked it; see Mansi, Sacrorum conciliorum nova et amplissima collectio [ reprint and continuation;
Paris, 1899-1927], 52:1113:B).

61. Session IX: Bulla unionis Coptorum Aethiopumque (COD, p. 571; DS, no. 1333)

62. DS, no. 1862 (not in COD)

63. Session III: Constitutio dogmatica de fide catholica, (Dei Filius), chapter 1 (COD, pp. 805-806; DS, no. 3002)

64. Mani, founder of the sect, lived in the third century of the Christian era. Beginning in the next century, the Fathers opposed Manichaeism: St. Epiphanius gave a lengthy
exposition and refutation (Haereses, 66: PG 42, 29-172); St. Athanasius spoke of it in
passing (Oratio contra gentes, 2: PG 25, 66); St. Basil wrote a little treatise entitled Quod Deus non sit autor malorum (PG 31, 330-354); Didymus of Alexandria composed a
Contra haereticos (PG 39, 1085-1110). In the West, St. Augustine, who in his youth
accepted Manichaeism, fought it systematically after his conversion (cf. PL 42).

65. Oratio 40: In sancta Baptisma, 45: PG 36, 424A

65a. See Jn. 8:44.

66. The Fathers thus interpreted Is. 14:14 and Ez. 28:2, where the prophets were condemning the pride of the pagan kings of Babylon and Tyre.

67. “Do not tell me that the devil was always evil! No, in the beginning he was without  

evil; evil is a supervenient qualification of his being, and was incurred at a later point” (St. John Chrysostom, De diabolo tentatore homilia, 2: PG 49, 260).

68. Quod Deus non sit autor malorum, 8: PG 31, 345CD

69. Oratio 38: In Theophania, 10: PG 36, 320A; Oratio 45: In sanctum Pascha: PG 36, 629B

70. See above, note 67.

71. Contra Manichaeos, 16: PG 39, 1105 C, where he thus interprets Jn. 8:44 (“in
veritate non stetis”); see Enarratio in Epistolam B. Judae, on verse 9: PG 39, 1814C- 1815B.

72. Adversus Marcionem II, 22: PL 2, 269-298

73. See in the next paragraph of the text, the first canon of Eusibius in De Trinitate.

74. Apologia prophetae David I, 4: PL 14, 853CD; In Psalmum 118, Sermo 12, 10: PL 15, 1363D

75. De Genesi ad litteram XI, 20-21, 27-28: PL 34, 439-440

76. “Si quis confitetus angelum apostaticum in natura, qua factus est, non a Deo factum fuisse, sed ab se esse, ut de se illi principium habere adsignet, anathema sit.
“Si quis confitetus angelum apostaticum in mala natura a Deo factum fuisse e non dixerit eum per voluntatem suam malum concepisse, anathema sit.
“Si quis confitetur angelum Satanae mundum fecisse, quod absit, et non indicaverit
[iudicaverit] omne peccatum per ipsum adinventum fuisse” (De Trinitate VI, 17, 1-3,
edited by V. Bulhart; CCL 9, 89-90; PL 62, 280-281).

77. Commonitorium de recipiendis Manichaeis qui convertuntur: CSEL 25/2, 977-982; PL 42, 1153-1156.

78. De Genisi ad litteram liber imperfectus, 1, 1-2: PL 34, 221

79. DS, no. 188

80. That is, the sixth point in the memorial sent to the Pope by his respondent, the bishop of Astorga.

81. “Sexta annotatio indicat eos dicere quod diabolus numquam fuerit bonus, nec natura eius opificium Dei sit, sed eum ex chao et tenebris emersisse: quia scilicet nullum sui
habeat auctorem, sed omnis mali ipse sit principium atque substantia: cum fides vera,
quae est catholica omnium creaturarum sive spiritualium, sive corporalium bonam
confiteatur substantiam, et mali nullam esse naturam: quia Deus, qui universitatis est  

conditor, nihil non bonum fecisse. Unde et diabolus bonus esset, si in eo quod factus est
permaneret. Sed quia naturali excellentia male usus est et in veritate non stetit (Ioan. VIII, 44), non in contrariam transiit substantiam, sed a summo bono, cui debuit adhaerere,
descivit”(Epist. 15, 6: PL 54, 683; the critical text edited by B. Vollman, O.S.B., varies
only in punctuation).

82. “Cap. IX: Fides vera, quae est catholica, omnium creaturarum sive spiritualium, sive corporalium bonam confitetur substantiam, et mali nallum esse naturam: quia Deus, qui
universitatis est conditor, nihil non bonum fecit. Unde et deabolus bonus esset, si in eo
quod factus est permaneret. Sed quia naturali excellantia male usus est, et in veritate non stetit, non in contrariam substantiam transiit, sed a summo bono, cui debuit adhaerere,
discessit” (De ecclesiasticis dogmatibus: PL 58, 995CD). But the original recension of
this work, published in the appendix of the works of St. Augustine, lacks this chapter (see PL 42, 1213-1222).

83. De fide seu regula fidei ad Petrum liber unus: PL 65, 671-706. See “Principaliter
tene,” 3, 25 (col. 683A); “Firmissime tene,” 4,45 (col. 694C); “Pars itaque angelorum
quae a suo creatore Deo, quo solo bono beata fuit, voluntaria prorsus aversione discessit,”
3, 31 (col. 687A); “nullamque esse mali naturam.” 21,62 (col. 689D-700A).

84. Edited by Charles Cunier, in Concilia Gallica [314-506], in CCL 148, p. 165, lines 25-26; also in Appendix to Ordo Romanus XXXIV, in M. Andrieu, Ordines Romani 3 (Louvain 1961), p. 616.

85. PL 215, 1512D; also edited by A. Dondaine, in Archivum Fratrum Praedicatorum 16 (1946) 2332; DS, no. 797.

86. DS, no. 457

87. See above, note 44.

88. PL 204, 1235-1272. See E. Delaruelle, “Ermengaud de Beziers,” Dictionnaire d’Histoire et de Geographie Ecclesiastiques, 15, 754-757.

89. PL 204, 775-792. The historical situation in Northern Italy is well described by P.
Ilarino da Milano. Le eresie mediovali (sec. XVI-XV), in Grande Antologia Filosofica 4 (Milan, 1954), pp. 1599-1689. Ilarino da Milano has studied Bonacursus’ work in his
article “La Manifestatio heresis Catarorum quam fecit Bonocursus secondo il cod. Ottob. lat. 136 della Biblioteca Vatican.” Aevum 12 (1958) 281-333.

90. “Sed primo de fide. Contra quam proponit sententiam falsitatis et iniquitatis, dicens
Deum omnipotentem sola invisibilia et incorporalia creasse; diabolum vero, quem deum tenebrarum appellat, dicit visibilia et corporalia creasse. Quibis predictis addit hereticus duo esse principia rerum: unum boni, scilicet Deum omnipotentem; alterum mali, scilicet diabolum. Addit etiam duas esse naturas: unam bonam, incorporalium, a Deo
omnipotente creatam; alteram malam, corporalium, a diabolo creatam. Hereticus autem  

qui hoc dicit antiquitas Manicheus nunc vero Catharus appelatur” (Summa contra
haereticos, edited by Joseph N. Garvin and James A Corbett [Notre Dame, 1958]. p. 4).

91. This treatise, first discovered and edited by Antoine Dondaine, O.P., has recently been re-edited by Christine Thouzellier, Livre des deux principes, with introduction, critical text, translation, notes, and indexes (Sources chretiennes 198; Paris 1973).

92. Op. .cit, no. 1: Thouzellier, pp. 160-161.

93. Op cit., no. 12: Thouzellier, pp. 190-191.

94. “Dominus papa, summo mane missa celebrata et omnibus episcopis per sedes suas
dispositis, in eminentiorem locum cum suis kardinalibus et ministries ascendens, sancte
Trinitatis fiden et singulos fidei articulos recitari fecit. Quibus recitatus quesitum est ab
universis alta voce: ‘Credetis haec per omnia?’ Responderunt omnes: ‘Credimus.’
Postmodum damnati sunt omnes heretici et reprobate quorumdam sententie, Iochim
scilicet et Emelrici Parisiensis. Quibus recitatis iterum quesitum est: ‘An reprobatis
sententias Iaochim et Emelrici?’ At illi magis invalescebant clamando: ‘Reprobamus” (“A New Eyewitness According to the Fourth Lateran Council,” edited by Stephan Cuttner
and Antonio Garcia y Garcia, in Traditio 20 [1964] 115-178, at pp. 127-128).

95. Session VI: Decree on Justification, chapter 5, in COD, p. 672; DS, no. 1525

96. Session XIII: Decree on the Holy Eucharist, chapter 1, in COD p. 693; DS nos. 1636- 1637

97. Session VI, chapter 13, in COD, p. 676; DS no. 1541 [The reference to the number of lines is to the two texts as printed in DS.]

98. DS, no. 291. The formula “prince of death” from Heb. 2:14 is used again is Session V: Decree on Original Sin, chapter 1, of the Council of Trent (COD, p. 666; DS no.

99. Session XI; Bulla Unionis Coptorum Aethiopumque, in COD, pp. 575-576; DS nos. 1347-1349.

100. Session VI, chapter 1, in COD, p. 671; DS, no. 1521 (translated in The Church Teaches, no. 557, p. 230).

101. Session VI, chapter 3, in COD p.672; DS, no. 1523 (The Church Teaches, no. 559, p. 231).

102. Session XIV: Decree on the Sacrament of Penance, chapter 1, in COD, p. 703; in DS, no. 1668.

103. This part of the rite was in use as early as the third century, according to the  

Tradition Apostolica of St. Hippolytus, chapter 21 (edited by B. Botte [Muster, 1963], pp. 46-51), and in the fourth century in the liturgy described in the Constitutions
Apostolorum, VII, 41 (edited by F.X. Funk, Didascalia et Constituiones Apostolorum 1
[Tubingen, 1905]).

104. Decree on the Missionary Activity of the Church, nos. 3 [TPS XI, 411] and 14 [TPS XI, 421]. Note the citation, in both passages, of Col. 1:13, as well as the citations in
Scripture in note 33 to no. 14.

105. Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the World Today, no. 37 [TPS XI, 281].

106. Eph. 6:11, cited in Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, no. 48 [TPS X, 392].

107. Eph. 6:12, cited in the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, no. 35 [TPS X 382- 383].

108. Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, no. 5 [TPS X, 361].

109. Lk. 11:20, see Mt. 12:28.

110. See C, Vagaggini, O.S.B., Il senso teologico della liturgia: Saggio di liturgia
teologica generale (4th ed.: Rome, 1965), chapter 13: “Le due citta, la liturgia e la lotta
contra Satana” (pp. 346-427). See also Egon von Petersdorff, “De daemonibus in liturgia memoratis” Angelicum 19 (1942) 324-349; Damonologie 1: Damonen im Weltpan, and 2: Damonen am Werk (Munich, 1956-1957).

111. See the Ordo excommunicandi et absolvendi, and especially the lengthy exhortation that begins: “Quai N. diabolo suadente,” in the Pontificale Romanum (2nd ed.;
Regensburg, 1908), pp. 392-398.

112. Cf. the prayer Commendo te: “May you be safe from the horror of darkness, the
crackling flames, the agony and torment. May Satan, the hideous one, and his cohorts flee before you.”

113. This was determined in the fourth norm set down in the Motu Propio Ministeria
quaedam of August 15, 1972: “Two ministries adapted to the present-day needs are to be preserved in the whole Latin Church, namely, those of the lector and acolyte. The
functions heretofore commited to the subdeacon and are entrusted to the acolyte;
consequently, the major order of the subdiaconate no longer exists in the Latin Church.
There is nothing, however, to prevent the acolyte being also called a subdeacon in some places, if the episcopal conference so decides” (AAS 64 [1972] 532 [TPS SVIII, 260]).
The office of exorcist is thus suppressed, and there is no provision that the power now
associated with this office can be exercised by the lector or the acolyte. The document
simply says that the episcopal conference may ask the Apostolic See to permit the
establishment in the regions of the offices of porter, exorcist, and catechist (AAS, p. 531 [TPS, p. 259]).  

114. The shift to the deprecative form was made only after “experiments,” which were followed by reflection and discussion within the Concilium.

115. Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (Washington , D.C., 1974), nos. 101, 109-118 (pp. 28-32).

116. Op. cit., no. 25 (p. 26) and nos. 154-157 (pp.43-44).

117. This has been true since the first edition” Ordo Baptismi Parvulorum (editio typica: Rome, 1969), no. 49 (p.27) and no 221 (p. 85). The only thing new is the deprecative
form (oratio exorcismi) and the fact that it is immediately followed by the prebaptismal anointing (no. 50). The two rites, of exorcism and anointing, each have their own

118. The new Ordo Paenitentiae (editio typica; Rome 1974) in its second Appendix, has the prayer Deus humani generis benignissime conditor (pp. 85-86); apart from some
slight modification it is the same as the prayer with the same opening words in the Ordo Reconciliationis Poenitentium for Holy Thursday (Pontificale Romanum, p. 350).

119. Ordo Unctionis Infirmorum Eorumque Pastoralis Curae (editio typica: Rome, 1972), no. 73 (p. 33).

120. Op. cit. no. 75 (p. 34)

121. Pope Paul VI, Address Quali sono (cf. note 8, above) [TPS SVII, 316]. The Holy
Father had expressed the same uneasiness in his homily on June 29, 1972 (Esse forti nella fede), in L’Osservatore Romano, June 30-July 1, 1972, pp.1-2.

122. De diabolo tentatore homilia, 2: PG 49, 259

123. 1 Pt. 5:8

124. Pope Paul VI, ibid.

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