The Devil Made Me Do It?

Throughout human history, there have been those who attribute evil to the devil, Satan, Lucifer-whatever you want to call him.  It’s one way of explaining mass genocide, murder, the slaughter of innocents, etc.  Evil has been part of human history since the beginning and humans have struggled with plausible explanations for it since the dawn of creation.

This is no less true with the priest abuse scandal.  Some want to attribute the evil of priests molesting children to the devil.  It’s convenient but is it plausible?

Some think so.

Pope Francis capped a landmark summit with Catholic leaders earlier this year by comparing clergy sex abuse to “human sacrifice” and vowing to confront abusers with “the wrath of God.”

The pope’s scathing comments came at the end of a Mass attended by 190 Catholic bishops and religious superiors who convened at the Vatican for an unprecedented conference on ending child sex abuse within the church.

“Our work has made us realize once again that the gravity of the scourge of the sexual abuse of minors is, and historically has been, a widespread phenomenon in all cultures and societies,” he said.

“I am reminded of the cruel religious practice, once widespread in certain cultures, of sacrificing human beings — frequently children — in pagan rites,” he added.

He referred to priests who prey on children as “tools of Satan” and noted that sexual abuse of minors was a “widespread phenomenon in all cultures and societies.”

In a newly published book author Taylor Marshall agrees with the pontiff.  “We have to remember from the Christian point of view going back from well before the beginning of time, there is the fall of the angels. Lucifer and a third of the angels fell. And then all the way up to the time of Christ, there was all of these betrayals that were spiritual in nature.”

Marshall cites Hebrew and Christian Scripture to make his point.  Malevolent forces personified as fallen angels have been interwoven throughout human history and influence its outcome.  Taylor also sites a famous passage from St. Paul the Apostle’s letter to the Ephesians, which said, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, again powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places (6:12, New King James Version)

On the other hand, there are those who dismiss such conspiracy theories as too facile an explanation for the problem of evil in the world.  They note that the Greek philosophers Plato and Aristotle wrestled with this problem and concluded that human freedom allows for a choice between good and evil.

Whatever side you come down on, evil does exist-perhaps in the heart of each human being or in some outside force.  But as a lawyer, I’ve seen it and I have had to grapple with it.

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