Great article from Crisis Magazine about the ancient and continual onslaught—in relation to other churches as well.
It’s not easy to discern the role played by the spiritual hosts of wickedness in world affairs. No one knows with any certainty what is going on in that realm, or what part the principalities and powers play in shaping events. But these are exceedingly strange times—so strange that it is difficult to make sense of some of what is happening from a this-worldly perspective. So it seems worthwhile to try to understand some phenomena from an other-worldly viewpoint.
One of the strangest developments of our times is the Church’s response to Islam and Islamic migration. Since the response runs entirely counter to the Church’s historical response, it seems legitimate to wonder if other-worldly forces are at play. If that’s the case, it should not be unexpected. Christ promised that the gates of hell would not prevail against his Church, but the implication of his words is that hell would surely try.
Over the years, various popes have testified to this effort. In the late nineteenth century, Pope Leo XIII reportedly had a vision of demonic spirits during the celebration of Mass. This led him to institute the Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel (“be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil”), which is said at the end of a Low Mass in the Extraordinary Form. In more recent times, on the feast of Saints Peter and Paul in 1972, Pope Paul VI delivered a sermon warning that “from some fissure the smoke of Satan has entered the temple of God.”
What may come as a surprise to those who worry about Pope Francis’s liberal tendencies is that he also has frequently warned of Satan’s influence. A few months after his election, he consecrated Vatican City State to St. Michael the Archangel who “defends the people of God from the arch-enemy par excellence, the devil.” When he was a cardinal in Argentina, he described a legislative proposal to redefine marriage as “a ‘move’ of the father of lies who seeks to confuse and deceive the children of God.”
If the smoke of Satan can enter the Catholic Church, there is no reason to suppose it cannot enter other religions as well. Without getting into the question of whether Muhammad was deceived by Satan, as some maintain, it is probable that Satan seeks to influence the direction of Islam just as he strives to have a malign influence on the Catholic Church.
It may be, then, that the current situation of the Church vis-à-vis Islam is due in part to a dual assault—one aimed at heightening Islam’s traditional aggressiveness, and the other aimed at weakening the Church’s traditional defenses. The result is a kind of dance of death: a ramping up of Islamic militancy matched by an exaggerated emphasis on tolerance, openness, and welcoming on the part of Catholics.