The Smoke of Satan Has Entered ~ BENEATH THE SURFACE with PAUL MURANO


In his homily in 1972 on the solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, Pope Paul VI made this ominous statement: “The smoke of Satan has entered the temple of God.” A few years prior, the pope wrote Humanae Vitae (1968), reaffirming the Church’s constant teaching against contraception. This should have been the dam to stave off the tide of the sexual revolution and subsequent culture of death. It was not. For the first time in modern Church history a doctrine definitively defined was met with public dissent. This was followed by mass confusion on what it means to be human and watering down of morality in the western world.

Today we have experienced the fruits of the contraception mentality – the delinking of the unitive from the procreative meaning of sexual love – in the rationalization of perversion for the sake of pleasure. The strategy was ingenious: once you rupture the objective love-giving and life-giving meaning of sex you can rationalize all disordered desires. Add to this a distorted notion of liberty, and human reason is defeated.

It wasn’t long before the media and academia came on board – the professional rationalizers were in full swing, conditioning society to accept violations of human nature as individual ‘freedom’. Time Magazine called it “the new morality.” In truth it was simply the age-old attempt to seek freedom from God, illustrated so succinctly in Adam and Eve hiding from God as soon as they had sinned (Gn 3:8). Yet, these professional rationalizers, unable to see that the smoke of Satan has already permeated their own professions, are certainly unable to see that the last and greatest obstacle to the goal of total misery and death for mankind is the Catholic Church.

The Catholic Church is the one bulwark that has remained steadfast in teaching the truth despite this demonic strategy. That teaching will not, and cannot, change. However, something dubious, as that Pope Paul VI noted, was infiltrating. Today we know it as the Church scandal, and it must be crushed.

Yet, in dealing with this scandal, the liberal media doesn’t know what to do with its own cognitive dissonance. If they cover the scandal (which makes them salivate) they’d have to cover this pope’s potential involvement. They can’t do that since they secretly see him as one of their own. If they call it a pedophilia scandal (which they love doing) they would have to admit that almost 90% of it involves homosexual behavior with adolescents. They would rather cover up this fact. Quite a quandary.

So, what is a Catholic to do in the midst of the current public scandal? Here are some thoughts. First, be calm, for we have the promise from above that the gates of hell shall never prevail (Mt 16:18). Second, do not forget that being faithful to the Church means being faithful to Christ. Christ is the essence of the Church, not the frail human element. The Church is His mystical body, formed and animated by His Spirit, without which there is no salvation.

Part of the New and unbreakable Covenant promise is that the Holy Spirit will keep the means of salvation within the Church pure and available to all until Jesus returns – despite the level of sin or holiness in His ordained priests. This means divine truth (His word) and divine life (His sacraments) will remain undefiled. As I told my students, if, hypothetically, every bishop became a mass murderer tomorrow, the sacraments would still be valid and dogma still be infallible. These clergy may end up in hell, or jail, or both (although we’d hope for their repentence); but whenever they validly administer a sacrament or proclaim a definitive doctrine, it is Christ who acts through them, sometimes despite them.

We cannot forget that of the twelve people Jesus hand-picked to be the pillars of His Church, one betrayed Him (Judas), one denied Him (Peter), and all but one (John) abandoned Him in His time of suffering on the cross. If we can see greed, pride, and fear in the original twelve, why would anyone expect the Church to be scandal-free at anytime during her earthly journey? Recall the words of Jesus after He told His crowd of followers they must eat His body and drink His blood, for “whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.” Most of His disciples left Him, going back to their former way of life. “Jesus then turned to His twelve and asked, ‘Do you too want to leave?’ Simon Peter answered him, ‘Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life’” (Jn 6:56, 66-69).

Being faithful to Christ means remaining faithful to His Church – despite how human sin and turmoil may temporarily taint her exterior. The Church is the new Noah’s Ark of salvation for the New Covenant, even though pirates continuously seek to come aboard to disrupt her path. It means never to cut and run, but to be courageous in the midst of the storm, living and speaking the Truth with clarity and charity.

Pray and fast for the purification of ourselves, the Church, and the world.
Paul Murano teaches philosophy and theology at two local colleges and hosts the radio talk show ‘Beneath the Surface’ on 980 WCAP. Podcasts are at Paul has graduate degrees in philosophy and theology and is certified in health care ethics. He speaks on topics where faith and reason meet, and also plays at local venues as a solo singer-songwriter-musician. E-mail Paul at