Monday, June 17, 2019

Austrian Theologian Thinks Pope Talks Too Much About the Devil

Criticism: To portray people as "agents of Satan" carries the danger of halving their moral responsibility and simultaneously demonizing it - Pope's problematic speech about devils in connection with sexual abuse

Vienna-Würzburg ( From the point of view of the Viennese theologian Jan-Heiner Tück, Pope Francis speaks "a little too often" about the devil. Although theology struggles with the problem of evil, it is a mistake to try to explain the devil as an explanatory model and to trace human action back to "his invisible hand," according to the dogmatic professor teaching at the University of Vienna in the German "Tagespost" ( June 13). As an example, Tück cited the papal speech about the devil in connection with sexual abuse, which he classified as "very problematic" and "pontifical relief strategy". Not the devil, but "the concrete failure of priests who have preyed on minors," and the silence and inaction of bishops, leaders, and believers must be charged.

The problem is talking of the devil in connection with sexual abuse especially for victims and those affected. For Tück, how do the victims behave when the head of the Catholic Church attributes the sexual violence of priests and religious to children and youth "to the work of the devil, shifting the issue from human responsibility to the spiritual level?” Without an "unvarnished perception of the facts" one comes "no further in the crisis," said Tück and demanded a moral and legal processing of the sexual assaults. This would include a systematic analysis of those factors that favored abuse - including a "taboo on sexuality" as well as "the blanket level of coverup."

For a long time perpetrators were covered and victims were muzzled so as not to jeopardize the credibility of the Church. It was a nuisance that many responsible persons had taken into account that in new places in turn, children and adolescents were exposed to threats and reprisals. So far, however, no one has dared to step out of anonymity and take personal responsibility for cover-up crimes, complained the theologian.

Man not agent of Satan

To portray people as "agents of Satan" carries the danger of halving their moral responsibility and simultaneously demonizing it, warned the dogmatic professor. Pope Francis emphasizes in his theology the duality of God as good and Satan as evil, which also brings a picture of people's lives as a battlefield of probation. The root of this thought led Tück back to the spiritual roots of Ignatian spirituality.

No one has the authority to define human wrongdoing immediately as the work of the devil, the theologian continues. Nevertheless, in return, it would be wrong to banalize "the problem of evil". As historical arguments, Tück cited "the barbaric excesses of the twentieth century", which manifested themselves in an escalation of violence, blind following and a masquerade of lies. "To deny this one would be blinded by reality".

Trans: Tancred

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