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Pope Francis: Bishops must pray to overcome “the Great Accuser”

“‘The Great Accuser’ has been unchained and is attacking bishops…in order to scandalize the people,’” Pope Francis said during his daily Mass homily.

Pope Francis gives the homily as he celebrates morning Mass in the chapel of his residence, the Domus Sanctae Marthae, at the Vatican Sept. 11. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

While preaching on today’s reading from the Gospel of Luke, Pope Francis lamented that in our times “the Great Accuser” is “attacking bishops” by uncovering their sins “in order to scandalize the people.”

According to a summary of the Holy Father’s homily published by Vatican News, Pope Francis called upon bishops to be humble men of prayer and not to “remain distant from the people.”

Vatican News quotes the Holy Father:

The bishop cannot remain distant from the people; he cannot have attitudes that take him away from them… He doesn’t try to find refuge with the powerful or elite. No. The “elites” criticize bishops, while the people has an attitude of love towards the bishop. This is almost a special unction that confirms the bishop in his vocation.

Prayer and humility are attributes necessary for bishops as they face “the Great Accuser,” the Pope said:

In these times, it seems like the “Great Accuser” has been unchained and is attacking bishops. True, we are all sinners, we bishops. He tries to uncover the sins, so they are visible in order to scandalize the people. The “Great Accuser,” as he himself says to God in the first chapter of the Book of Job, “roams the earth looking for someone to accuse.” A bishop’s strength against the “Great Accuser” is prayer, that of Jesus and his own, and the humility of being chosen and remaining close to the people of God, without seeking an aristocratic life that removes this unction. Let us pray, today, for our bishops: for me, for those who are here, and for all the bishops throughout the world.

Pope Francis was preaching on today’s Gospel reading, Luke 6:12-19, which recounts the calling of the Twelve Disciples, whom Francis called “the first bishops.”

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About Catherine Harmon 577 Articles
Catherine Harmon is managing editor of Catholic World Report.


  1. If my bishop has been credibly accused with serious sin, I don’t want him to draw close to me.

    Also, I have the feeling that crafty Francis is intentionally using a double-entendre [with the word “accuser”] and intentionally mentioning sin without regard to it’s severity (e.g. whether such sin is venial or mortal.)

    • He is most certainly circling the wagons. I am not interested in excuses. Too many souls have been damaged by these priests and bishops. The buck stops here and I mean literally. No more money until they clean up this mess. It is a horror in our Church and a sacrilege to our Lord.

    • Yes, he is the master deceiver and “protector” of people like Wuerl, James Martin and many others. We will hold these people accountable to protect the Church.

  2. Am I the only one here who is outraged by this smear of those who are uncovering hierarchical sexual depravity? This is of a piece with the disgusting claim that those who reveal Francis’ coverup are guilty of sinning against the Holy Spirit.

    • It looks to me like a last ditch attempt at survival — portraying the good and very brave Archbishop Vigano as a diabolical figure.

    • No, you are not alone. They are circling the wagons in the hopes that the people will forget the scandal. If they can draw back long enough, they think we will let it go. Not this time.

    • You are not alone. So many of the very faithful are outraged and angry. We want truth and the Pope is not forthcoming and therefore he is not helping his flock. He is making matters worse with this type of speech. It appears he thinks we are stupid.

  3. That’s strange, St. Paul says the EXACT opposite in his letter to the Ephesians 5:

    But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. *Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light.*

    • True, which is why sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness, cannot coexist with Holiness; our Call to Holiness, has always been a call to be chaste in our thoughts, in our words, and in our deeds.
      Sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness, which sexually obbjectifies the human person, demeans our inherent Dignity as belovd sons and daughters. Let not your hearts be hardened like a pillar of salt.
      “When God Is denied”, by those who embrace sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness, human Dignity is denied.
      “Penance, Penance, Penance.”
      Catholics recognize there are no “private” relationships; every Catholic is Called to be “A Temple for The Holy Ghost”.
      The erroneous notion that private morality and public morality can serve in opposition to one another and are not complementary, has led to serious error in Faith and morals.
      What we are witnessing, is an attack on The Holy Ghost, and thus an attack on Salvational Love, God’s Gift of Grace and Mercy.
      “It is not possible to have Sacramental Communion without Ecclesial Communion”, due to The Unity of The Holy Ghost. (Filioque) It Is Through Christ, With Christ, and In Christ, In The Unity Of The Holy Ghost, that Holy Mother Church exists. The Sacrifice of The Cross, Is The Sacrifice of The Most Holy And Undivided Blessd Trinity, “for God So Loved us that He Sent His Only Son…”

  4. Is this now a “do-over” of the Chilean abuse crisis stonewalling that failed?

    Following the cue from Ross Douthat that discovering the whole truth about the global sex abuse coverup scandal requires “going to the peripheries” of the Catholic blogosphere, I am now reading sites that have been condemned as “unreliable.”

    For instance, at her blog Ann Barnhardt is now posting videos showing parents in Argentina who have accused Pope Francis and the Argentine Bishops of ignoring them and their victimized children in a number of cases when Francis was Archbishop of Buenos Aries.

    In particular, it is pointed out that in one public statement, Pope Francis declared there were never any sex abuse cases in his jurisdiction as Bishop. And next the story shows evidence that there were in fact several cases during his tenure, including the most serious sex abuse case in the history of the Church in Argentina: the Rev. Julio Grassi case, where Grassi is now serving a 15 year term for sex abuse of a minor.

    Of higher concern, evidence is shown that then-Cardinal Bergoglio, behind the scenes, authorized a “counter-investigation” by the Argentine Church, producing a 1,000 page “legal brief” aimed at defending Grassi and attacking the victims, which in the opinion of some Argentine judges and lawyers, was an attempt to undermine the state criminal proceedings, which went all the way at to the Argentine Supreme Court.

    So why would Pope Francis publicly state that there were no sex abuse cases in his jurisdiction as Bishop, when there in fact are cases, and victims families say they were ignored?

    This pattern sounds a lot like the Chilean case, where the Church higher authorities, along with Pope Francis, stonewalled and attacked the victims and their families and concerned faithful of Osorno.

    What are we to make of Pope Francis’ new rhetoric about “accusing Bishops?”

    Is it not the ULTIMATE CLERICALISM to suggest that those faithful who ask for answers to legitimate questions about grave accusations are being unfaithful?

    Well, perhaps the pontiff really considers it “unfaithful to him?”

    • Dionysius,
      It’s like the mafia complaining about “the great accuser” when their evil deeds come to light. “The great accuser, of course, is the district attorney’s office.

  5. Is Francis implying that people who call the bishops to account and uncover the evil they have done are somehow in league with the devil? Shame on him if he is!

  6. Those poor Bishops…….let’s not worry to much about the people they have spiritually and physically abused let’s just make sure those “elites” in the pews don’t say a word when our bishops promote and accept sodomy.

  7. Of course Bergoglio says the opposite of St. Paul. He is the same Bergoglio who previously said , “No, no, no!” regarding “proselytization.” But why is he now attempting to “proselytize” members of the Church and concerned, faithful Catholics in this manner? Why does Bergoglio ostensibly make such an accusation towards those who seek answers if he himself is so opposed to “the Great Accuser?” Are accusations against Bishops the specialty of ‘the Great Accuser” and those presumably under his influence? Did Bergoglio “discern” this apart from Church History, Tradition or Scripture?

    The Bergoglio papacy is now officially “what happened in Argentina” writ large. The so-called synodal (rigged) democracy is now a tyranny.

    Count me among the “dumb” Chilean “slanderers” who seek answers. We should relentlessly keep seeking answers. There is no other time, no next time.

    Our Lady of La Salette, pray for us.

    Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us.

  8. This is not just appalling, it is infuriating.

    So we are serving the evil one when we attempt to hold bishops accountable for protecting their flocks from predators?

    I’m sorry, but that is is not the message of the Holy Spirit, but rather an unholy one.

  9. In the Old Testament God sent prophets to hold the Israelites to account for their faithlessness. They were God’s drill instructors sent to whip the troops into line. St John the Baptist was more of the same. In Luke 11 Christ blasted the religious leadership with His woes. St Stephen was taking the Council to task when he was stoned to death. People always like to bring up the attempted stoning of the woman taken in adultery. They seem oddly silent about all of God’s prophets who were killed in the line of duty. The real blood letting in the Bible was more in the line of Cain and Abel, who was referred to by name in Christ’s woes.

  10. There is a battle against Evil in our Church and so far Pope Francis has decided not to fight it. He will go down in history as one of the worst Popes or best Popes depending how he deals with sexually abusive priests and those who cover it up.

  11. I seem to recall a prayer saying something to the effect of “as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end”. I expect direct hits from the enemy, Satan. Where do people think all this nonsense is coming from? Look. We are in a spiritual battle every day of our lives. Let us live as soldiers for Christ. Let’s live Ephesians 6:10-20. Nowhere did Our Lord tell us we would merrily dance through life. He did tell us that the gates of Hell would not prevail against the Church He founded. Let’s continue in prayer and actions to be what He wants us to be. His harvesters.

  12. I was thinking it was the Holy Spirit, not the Accuser, who is bringing these horrendous crimes to light so that the Church may be purged of this sickness. But if it is the Accuser, may God use this to bring about cleansing and healing.

    • Yes Kathryn, that is what The Holy Spirit is doing.

      Jesus has sent Him to fight the evil that dares hide inside His Holy Church.

    • If I’m right about who Francis is, he primarily intended “the accuser” to be Vigano in people’s minds. But by using a double-entendre, he can easily say that he was talking about Satan.

  13. Let’s be clear, because it is becoming increasingly apparent that this pope has a penchant for obfuscation. The people are scandalized not by what the Great Accuser is “uncovering” but by what priests and bishops have tried to keep under cover, that is, both the abuse and the coverup itself.

  14. My university is accusing me of the same thing that Pope Francis says here. By criticizing the Pope, I am causing scandal, blah, blah, blah… Instead of looking at the real issues – primarily homosexual activity and pederasty by priests and bishops, and the continuing coverup, I am a “mean-spirited” Catholic professor!

  15. Let’s see, is the Pope GASLIGHTING to put the blame on satan and hence cause us to question the reality of their sin and misdirect us to focus on the poor ole Bishops being exposed by Satan?
    Let’s see, isn’t satan the liar?
    Why would satan expose the truth about the Bishop’s sins?
    And, so is this Papa Francis admitting to the lies and sins of the Bishops?
    And implying that their sins were okay when they were hidden?
    But exposing them is evil somehow?
    But now satan is exposing the sins, that are real, so that we Faithful will be scandalized and this will somehow harm the Church? How?
    I personally think ridding the Church of the liars, the sexual predators is a good thing. Is the Pope condemning satan or congratulating him?
    I’m betting his counsel of Bishops had a hand in this train (wreck) of thought.
    This is as twisted as it seems to silly ole scandalized me.

  16. The man has no credence beyond a broken clock. On the dot twice a day no matter…
    The meeting scheduled for the end of February with the representatives of the national conferences of bishops had better be a resounding demonstration of no confidence in a pontificate off the rails for over five years.
    He has got to go.

  17. Sins must come into the light to be acknowledged and healed. The pope doesn’t want this, because he is concerned about the hierarchy, not the people… Therefore, maybe it is no longer a church. Jesus called on the church to feed his sheep, not protect it’s internal money, power and privilege. My family and I left in 2017.

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