Christians have “formed” the Devil as a way of expressing evil, the Jesuit superior general has said.

In an interview with Spanish newspaper El Mundo, Fr Arturo Sosa said: “Christians believe that we are made in the image and likeness of God, and God is free, but He always chooses to do good because He is all goodness.

“We have formed symbolic figures such as the Devil to express evil. Social conditioning can also represent this figure, since there are people who act [in an evil way] because they are in an environment where it is difficult to act to the contrary.”

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that the Devil is a real being, specifically a fallen angel who rebelled against God: “The Church teaches that Satan was at first a good angel, made by God.”

Elsewhere in the interview, Fr Sosa said Pope Francis had “opened the door” to women’s ministry by establishing a commission to look into the diaconate. Asked about the possibility of women being ordained as priests, he said: “There will come a time when their role is better recognised. The Church of the future will have a different hierarchy, with different ministers.”

Thanks to “feminine creativity”, he said, there could be “Christian communities with a different structure” within 30 years. “The Pope has opened the door to the diaconate by creating a commission. Perhaps they could open more doors afterwards,” he said.

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