Pope Saint Paul VI on the Smoke of Satan

The often-quoted assertion of Pope Saint Paul VI, that “the smoke of Satan has entered the temple of God from some fissure”, is almost as often misinterpreted. The book “Infiltration” misrepresents the quote as if it confirms that Satan has infiltrated the Church at the level of the Magisterium and the Papacy, and has taken control of the Church’s decisions on doctrine and discipline. That is a very severe misrepresentation. It is also hypocritical since “Infiltration” accuses Pope Paul VI of being part of the infiltration of evil into the Church. If Paul VI is so evil, then why believe anything he says?

Recall, first of all, that the Church is indefectible. She is the body of Christ, with Christ as her Head, and with the Holy Spirit as Her Soul. So She cannot be infiltrated by evil, other than in the sense that some of Her members sin gravely. And given the teaching of the Magisterium for many centuries, and the dogma of the First Vatican Council, on the never-failing faith of the Pope and his immunity from error, it is not possible for evil to infiltrate the Church via any Pope or Council. To make such a claim is to accuse Jesus of having a demon (Jn 8:48). It is apostasy and blasphemy.

“Christ and his Church thus together make up the “whole Christ” (Christus totus). The Church is one with Christ.” [CCC 795]

“What the soul is to the human body, the Holy Spirit is to the Body of Christ, which is the Church.” “To this Spirit of Christ, as an invisible principle, is to be ascribed the fact that all the parts of the body are joined one with the other and with their exalted head; for the whole Spirit of Christ is in the head, the whole Spirit is in the body, and the whole Spirit is in each of the members.” The Holy Spirit makes the Church “the temple of the living God”: [CCC 797]

It is not our place to evaluate every decision of Popes and Councils on doctrine and discipline, and decide which is good and which is supposedly evil. Rather, we must trust in the promise of Christ that the gates of Hell will never prevail over the Church (Mt 16:18) and that the faith of Peter and his successors will never fail (Lk 22:32). As soon as we start judging the Popes and Councils, we have abandoned faith, and have accused Christ himself of being unfaithful.

Thus, the saying about the smoke of Satan cannot possibly mean that Satan has ever or will ever gain control of any Pope or Council, nor control of the Church’s decisions on discipline or doctrine. Such a claim is heretical and apostate. The claim destroys the Christian faith, by making the faithful distrust the sole Ark of Salvation.

The Smoke of Satan

On June 19th, 1972, the feast of the martyrdoms of Peter and Paul, which was also the ninth anniversary of his coronation, Pope Saint Paul VI gave a homily during Mass in which he made the famous comment. The entire homily is not reproduced, but a summary with sporadic quotes is found on the Vatican website.

Referring to the situation of the Church today, the Holy Father claims to have the feeling that “the smoke of Satan has entered the temple of God from some fissure”. There is doubt, uncertainty, problems, anxiety, dissatisfaction, confrontation. One no longer trusts the Church; one trusts the first profane prophet who comes to speak to us from some newspaper or from some social movement to chase him and ask him if he has the formula of true life.

And we do not feel we are already lord and masters over this. Doubt entered our consciences, and entered through windows that instead had to be opened to light. Criticism came from science, which is made to give us truths that do not detach from God but make us search even more and celebrate with greater intensity, and doubt arrives.

As we can see from the above two paragraphs describing the sermon, Pope Saint Paul VI was not asserting that Satan had gained control over any Pope or Council or the Magisterium or the decisions of the Church. Rather, he was asserting the opposite, that the smoke of Satan is a lack of faith in the Church and in her decisions on doctrine and discipline. “One no longer trusts the Church.” Instead, persons today, if I may lend my own more recent observations, trust in the conservative Catholic subculture, or in their favorite speaker or author, or in their own understanding. Anything the Church does is treated as suspect, as subject to evaluation and rejection. Faith is gone, and is replaced with pride in one’s own mind and heart.

Whatever is in agreement with one’s own mind and heart is divinized and called “God”, and whatever is contrary to one’s own mind and heart is villainized and called “Satan”. Such is one of the worst misuses of religion. And it is on display in the book Infiltration to a severe extent.

So the quote from Paul VI that the smoke of Satan has entered the Church in no way supports accusations of heresy against Pope Francis, nor accusations that Satan had influenced or controlled the Popes or the Second Vatican Council or any teachings or decisions of the Church. Just the opposite is true. The smoke of Satan is precisely this distrust in the Church, this substitution of one’s own judgment, or the judgment of a subculture or a particular speaker or author.

The smoke of Satan is also the type of distrust in the Church found among liberals, who have substituted trust in sinful secular society for faith in Christ. Whatever the Church teaches that is contrary to the teachings of society is rejected. Science is placed above faith, and the majority opinion of secular culture is treated like a source of Divine Revelation. The secular is divinized and the holy is profaned. This, too, is the smoke of Satan.

And the solution to the problem of the smoke of Satan is to trust the Church, to submit to the decisions on doctrine and discipline of her Popes and her Councils, and humble oneself so that personal opinions are never used to contradict the Faith.

Infiltration and the Smoke

The book Infiltration makes claims about “the smoke of Satan” that are incompatible with the homily of Pope Saint Paul VI, from whom the saying originates. First, he misquotes the homily:

Taylor Marshall: “In a homily for Holy Mass on the feast of Saint Peter and Saint Paul (29 June 1972) and in commemoration of the ninth anniversary of being crowned as Bishop of Rome, Pope Paul VI lamented: ‘We would say that, through some mysterious crack — no, it’s not mysterious; through some crack, the smoke of Satan has entered the Church of God. There is doubt, uncertainty, problems, unrest, dissatisfaction, confrontation.’ This testimony of Paul VI acknowledged not merely that the Catholic Church had experienced secularization but that the smoke of Satan himself had entered the Church through a crack.” [1]

Here is the Google translation of the homily, in Italian, found on the Vatican website:

Referring to the situation of the Church today, the Holy Father claims to have the feeling that “the smoke of Satan has entered the temple of God from some fissure“. There is doubt, uncertainty, problems, anxiety, dissatisfaction, confrontation. One no longer trusts [fida] the Church; one trusts the first profane prophet who comes to speak to us from some newspaper or from some social movement to chase it and ask him if he has the formula of true life. And we do not feel we are already masters and masters of it. Doubt entered our consciences, and entered through windows that instead had to be opened to light. Criticism came from science, which is made to give us truths that do not detach from God but make us search even more and celebrate with greater intensity, and doubt has come.

Then the Pope explains further:

How did this happen? The Pope confides his thoughts to those present: that there has been the intervention of an adverse power. His name is the devil, this mysterious being which is also alluded to in the Letter of St. Peter. Many times, on the other hand, in the Gospel, on the very lips of Christ, the mention of this enemy of men returns. “We believe – observes the Holy Father – in something preternatural that came into the world precisely to disturb, to suffocate the fruits of the Ecumenical Council, and to prevent the Church from bursting into the hymn of the joy of having regained full consciousness of self. Precisely for this reason we would like to be able, more than ever at this moment, to exercise the function assigned by God to Peter, to confirm the brothers in the Faith. We would like to communicate to you this charisma of the certainty that the Lord gives to the one who also represents him unworthily on this earth“. Faith gives us certainty, security, when it is based on the accepted Word of God and found to be consenting with our own reason and with our own human soul. Whoever believes with simplicity, with humility, feels that he is on the right track, that he has an interior witness that comforts him in the difficult conquest of truth.

Only the quoted sentences above are from Pope Saint Paul VI. The rest is a description of the homily, not the exact text. So the quote given by Taylor Marshall is incorrect. He mixes the words of the Pope with the description of what he was saying, along with some erroneous text not correctly representing the Vatican source text.

Notice in the most recent quote from the homily above, that the smoke of Satan has the goal “to suffocate the fruits of the Ecumenical Council”, meaning Vatican II. The book Infiltration viciously attacks Vatican II by claiming that it is the work of the smoke of Satan, which that is precisely the opposite of what Pope Saint Paul VI was saying.

So the smoke of Satan, according to Pope Saint Paul VI is found in persons and groups who distrust the Church, to influence others not to trust or put faith in the Church, and who attack the Second Vatican Council. That’s not Pope Francis, but rather his conservatives critics. They are the enemies of the Church whom they hate and fear. They are freemasons, figuratively, as they wish to chip away at, or replace, the doctrines and disciplines of the Church, which are the stones of Her foundation. They are the smoke of Satan, sowing distrust in the Church and her decisions, and opposing Vatican II.

The book infiltration claims:
* “Satan uniquely entered the Catholic Church at some point over the last century, or even before that.”
* “It has been a slow, patient plan to establish a Satanic revolution with the pope as puppet.” [1]

There are many other such claims. The point of these assertions and of the whole book is that Jesus Christ lied to us, or at least broke His promises, the indefectible Church defected, the faith of Peter failed, the dogmatic teachings of past Pope-Saints and the First Vatican Council are false, and the Church has now been taken over by Satan. What is the basis for these radical claims? That the Popes have made decisions on doctrine and discipline that are contrary to what Taylor Marshall and his conservative traditionalist subculture think are best. So…it must be Satan, right?

The only other possible explanation, “and I only include it for the sake of covering absolutely all bases,” is that Taylor Marshall and the conservative Catholic subculture are wrong and the Magisterium is right. They are wrong on Vatican II, wrong on Communion, wrong on many points of doctrine and discipline, wrong in their rejection of mercy and love, wrong in their narrow-minded interpretations of past teachings and divine revelation. When did Christ promise that the conservative Catholic subculture would be indefectible or infallible? Never. When did Christ teach us to trust conservatism over the Magisterium? Never. When did Christ promise that we could always trust the teaching of the Church, the leadership and teaching of every Pope, and that Satan would never be able to infiltrate the Church? In the Gospels, in so many places.

To claim that the Church has been infiltrated by Satan, merely because recent Popes have made decisions on doctrine and discipline contrary to conservative or traditionalist subculture is a faithless betrayal of Christ and a vicious accusation against the Holy Spirit.

The smoke of Satan has entered the Church in the form of a small minority of priests, deacons, scholars, and other lay persons who do not trust the Church, do not trust the Popes, do not trust the college of Cardinals, do not trust the body of Bishops, do not trust the Magisterium, do not trust the indefectibility of the Church, do not trust the promises of Christ, do not trust the Most Blessed Trinity, do not trust the Holy Spirit, and who have themselves committed heresy, schism, and even apostasy and blasphemy. Then, at the same time, these faithless wicked persons think themselves fit to stand in judgment over every Pope and Council, over the Magisterium and the whole Church, to judge what is good and what is evil. They fail to see that they themselves are the smoke of Satan.

Them: “Oh no! The smoke of Satan has entered the Church!”
Me: “Yes, it has. Would you like to see the smoke with your own eyes? Look in a mirror.”

Them: “It’s the freemasons! They have infiltrated the Church!”
Me: “Right. But you yourselves are the figurative freemasons. You have infiltrated the Church. Why don’t you do us all a favor and exfiltrate.”

[Galatians 2]
{2:4} but only because of false brothers, who were brought in unknowingly. They entered secretly to spy on our liberty, which we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might reduce us to servitude.

Figurative freemasons who wish to put themselves in authority over the stones of the Church’s foundation, Her decisions on doctrine and discipline, so that they might chip away at or replace any stones they dislike. They are the ones who have infiltrated or “entered secretly” so that they might “spy on our liberty” in Christ and thereby reduce us to servitude. They wish to make the whole Church subservient to their every decision on doctrine and discipline, in direct contradiction to Popes and Councils.

They reject Vatican II. They reject the teaching of Vatican I, that each Pope has the gifts of truth and a never-failing faith. They reject the teaching of the Council of Trent, that those who receive a baptism of desire only (non-Christians in the state of grace) are also children of God by spiritual adoption. They reject every decision of doctrine and discipline contrary to their own ideas. That is faithlessness. That is exactly the type of lack of trust in the Church that Pope Saint Paul VI called the smoke of Satan.

Marshall’s Vision from God

As recounted here by Deacon Frederick Bartels, just over a year ago Taylor Marshall publicly reported that he had a vision of the Church as Mother. He described the vision in a video posted March 6th, 2018. Upon seeing the vision, he says he mistakenly thought that the milk of the Church was poisoned. Then he heard a voice, either from an angel or from God himself, correcting him: “No, the milk is still pure.” About a year later, Dr. Marshall rejected and contradicted the vision of God given to him in a private revelation, by claiming, in the book Infiltration, that the milk of the Church has been poisoned by Satan and by Satanic conspiracies. And he knows he is contradicting that vision. He removed the video from his website. He doesn’t want people realizing that he is contradicting the correction and warning given to him DIRECTLY from God!

That is the way it is with these papal accusers. If God himself literally were to give them a vision to correct their faithlessness in the purity of the Church’s teaching, they would not accept it. And in the case of Taylor Marshall, he did in fact receive such a vision. God attempted to prevent him from harming the Church with that book, and he ignored God. He rejected the teaching of God given directly to him. And he accused the Church of feeding her infants with milk that was poisoned by Satan, even after God told him in a vision: “No, the milk is still pure.”

When I said that Taylor Marshall committed blasphemy against the Holy Spirit by that book, it was no exaggeration. He literally committed that sin, not the form called final impenitence, but the form where one accuses Jesus Christ of having a demon. Satan has not infiltrated the Church. For the Church has the Holy Spirit as Her Soul. An individual human person, in the state of grace, has the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and therefore cannot be possessed by Satan. Similarly, the Church has the indwelling of the Holy Spirit because She is the body of Christ. The Blessed Virgin Mary cannot be possessed by Satan. And the Mary is a figure of the Church. So it is not possible that Satan has infiltrated the Church by poisoning Her teachings or leading astray her Popes or the body of Bishops or an Ecumenical Council.

[1] Marshall, Taylor. Infiltration: The Plot to Destroy the Church from Within . Sophia Institute Press. Kindle Edition.

by
Ronald L. Conte Jr.
Roman Catholic theologian and translator of the Catholic Public Domain Version of the Bible.

Please take a look at this list of my books and booklets, and see if any topic interests you.

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9 Responses to Pope Saint Paul VI on the Smoke of Satan

  1. Rob says:

    So what exactly is it okay to disagree with the Pope about in you view? For instance, I cannot agree with his thoughts on the death penalty: some crimes simply deserve death as the only feasible answer and he seriously overestimates the reforming ability of the modern penitentiary system.

    • Ron Conte says:

      Submission is first. When you treat your understanding as dogma and his teaching as opinion, you err gravely. Disagreement with non-infallible teachings must be preceded by faith in the Magisterium and submission to the Pope. Then some limited disagreement is possible, but never so as to assume that one’s own opinion is certainly true, and the magisterial teaching is certainly error.

  2. “The book “Infiltration” misrepresents the quote as if it confirms that Satan has infiltrated the Church at the level of the Magisterium and the Papacy, and has taken control of the Church’s decisions on doctrine and discipline.”

    “It has been a slow, patient plan to establish a Satanic revolution ‘with the pope as puppet’.” – Quote from the book.

    I haven’t read that particular book, but that’s basically saying that Jesus failed miserably when He said to Peter: “Simon, Simon! Behold, Satan has asked for you, so that he may sift you like wheat.
    – But I have prayed for you, *so that your faith may not fail*, and so that you, once converted, may confirm your brothers.” – (Luke 22:31-32).

    That’s basically saying that Satan has prevailed over Jesus’ prayer and this demon is now sifting the Rock upon Jesus built His Church and the Apostles like wheat, or as this author puts it, “as a puppet”. I can’t believe some so called “faithful Catholics” could approve and support of that blasphemous book.

    Are we going to believe the Word of God or the word of some misguided man?

    A new breed of Protestantism is occurring in our Church nowadays. How can a person who believes that his Church is being run by Satan remain there? – the next sept is apostasy by those people.

    A true faithful Catholic firmly believes that Jesus’ Church is run by God Himself, not a miserable devil deceiving some poor souls. I can understand that an anti-Catholic could claim that our Church is run by Satan, but a so called “Catholic”? and on what ground? – not the Word of God, that’s for sure.

    • Alex says:

      The fight is on one side the Love that Jesus preached, that is also in essence the Holy Spirit, against the prince of this world. How many evil preachers and even bishops have lived throughout the centuries within the Church, to the extend St Bellarmine to say: don’t worry no one could destroy the Church from outside if they couldn’t do it from inside…

      It is not the reforms of this and other popes that are wrong, it is the opposition that is wrong, the spirit of disobedience that fights against the Spirit of Love…Because after all, all those rules that change in centuries are Not something that Jesus sat to write down, or to preach to the apostles. It is the Love He preached and showed…written by all and in particular way by John.

      What profit for someone to zealously fight against abortion and go 3 times a week on holy Mass, if at the same time that person will not feed the hungry (one way or another) saying he is not able to do so, he is financially hurt by ….(most likely the excuse is by the democrats, anyway..)…But he will have enough money at the same time to maintain two or more cars, a house that few people on the planet live in, daily access to Walmart with unlimited cheap food…internet shopping of electronics etc… No surprise he will meet one day the words of Jesus on the Judgment Day: “I was hungry and you gave me no food…”

      Pope Francis is doing the impossible to turn the Church especially its Western part back to the Gospel of Love…and he is being crucified for that by those who ultimately will reject Jesus’ Love as well, thus committing the Unforgivable sin against the Holy Spirit. I think however that many understand the pope, the need of reforms, and the majority of the clergy is with him even when keeps silence. Because it is just to do so, it must be done so. Even when our collaborators in the field are not catholics, but politicians with other viewpoints. We cannot agree on everything. We are inside the world, not outside of it, as the fundamentalists believe they are. I believe that message of change towards the Love has already reached the hearts and minds of many, and soon the Great return will happen. The Love has been Lived already in the First years after Jesus

      Acts 4:32 ESV
      Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common.

  3. stefano says:

    [deleted]

    • Ron Conte says:

      Your comments are not welcome on this blog. The Church is indefectible. Each Pope has the gift of truth and a never-failing faith. Go deny these dogmas somewhere else.

  4. Tom B. says:

    Mr. Conte, what do you make of Pope Honorius’ (postmortem) anathematization by the Sixth Ecumenical Council, confirmed by Pope St. Leo II, for having “polluted” the Apostolic See by his monothelitism? Note: I’m not trolling or asserting that his case falsifies the Petrine office, or anything like that. I’m only curious as to how you reconcile his case, and the words used in his condemnation, with what you describe as “the gift of truth and a never-failing faith.”

  5. erm6 says:

    This article is a Ron Conte classic.

Comments are closed.