There is a statement oft quoted that is attributed to Pope Paul VI, now Blessed Paul VI. The statement, “From some fissure the smoke of Satan has entered the temple of God.” This sentence has been the fodder of conspiracy theorists worldwide over decades. Using this phrase, these theorists conclude that this means "masons" have entered the Church and are trying to destroy it from the inside. Radical Traditionalists use this phrase to justify their adhering to the "old ways" and not adopting the new ways that Vatican II introduced. Many even say that Pope Paul VI was murdered and an evil imposter took his place! These theories run rampant on the internet, and are a favourite among the anti-Catholic crowd.
So, did Pope Paul VI really say that Satan has entered the Church, and thus we shouldn't trust her anymore? Like everything else in the media, we must look at the context. First we must understand that there is no verbatim transcript of his homily given on 29 June, 1972, on the Solemnity of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul. There is only a translated summary by Father Stephanos Pedrano. I will not post the entire homily here, but only the section that contains the sentence in question with emphasis added by me,
Perhaps our being in communication with God obligates us to renunciations, to sacrifices; but at the same time that it deprives us of something it multiplies its gifts. Yes, it imposes renunciations, but it makes us superabundant in other riches. We are not poor, rather we are rich, because we have the riches of the Lord. The Pope adds, “And so, we should wish to tell these brothers—whose absence we feel as it were in the guts of our priestly soul— how close they are to us, how much we love them now and always, and how much we pray for them, and with how much effort we seek to pursue, surround and repair the interruption that they themselves have imposed on our communion with Christ.
Referring to the situation of the Church today, the Holy Father affirms that he has a sense that “from some fissure the smoke of Satan has entered the temple of God.” There is doubt, incertitude, problematic, disquiet, dissatisfaction, confrontation. There is no longer trust of the Church; they trust the first profane prophet who speaks in some journal or some social movement, and they run after him and ask him if he has the formula of true life. And we are not alert to the fact that we are already the owners and masters of the formula of true life. Doubt has entered our consciences, and it entered by windows that should have been open to the light. Science exists to give us truths that do not separate from God, but make us seek him all the more and celebrate him with greater intensity; instead, science gives us criticism and doubt. Scientists are those who more thoughtfully and more painfully exert their minds. But they end up teaching us: “I don’t know, we don’t know, we cannot know.” The school becomes the gymnasium of confusion and sometimes of absurd contradictions. Progress is celebrated, only so that it can then be demolished with revolutions that are more radical and more strange, so as to negate everything that has been achieved, and to come away as primitives after having so exalted the advances of the modern world.
It is notable that directly after the "satan" reference, Pope Paul VI explains his statement, if indeed the translation was accurate. Pope Paul VI is speaking of doubt, incertitude, problematic, disquiet, dissatisfaction, confrontation, lack of trust of the Church, trust of PROFANE PROPHETS who speak in "some journal" or "some social movement". In other words, the doubts of Catholics worldwide following false prophets and laying aside the tenets of the Church have introduced the "smoke of Satan" into the Church. And what is "the Church"? Here, Pope Paul VI refers to not just the Vatican, but all Catholics who make up the Temple of Christ; the Body of Christ. Any of us who have been alive in the past several decades know exactly what Pope Paul VI means! The smoke of Satan has indeed infiltrated into the minds and hearts of Catholics in our modern society!
It is ironic and interesting that the false prophets, apparition chasers, and conspiracists of this world use a phrase by Pope Paul VI that refers to THEM, but, like the evil one, they turn that phrase against the Church itself!
Our Church and her Magisterium stand strong under the leadership of the Canonically elected Pope Francis. Now she has much more work ahead in drawing us wayward Catholics back into the fold through the upcoming series of Synods. Pray the rosary for our Holy Mother Church, as Pope Francis guides this embattled ship safely into harbour!
Source: Catholic Stand