The devil’s mission is always to destroy, Pope Francis said Friday, but his worst assaults are not frontal attacks, but subtle, “well-mannered” persuasion.

In his homily at Mass in the Santa Marta residence Friday morning, the pope said that Satan is most dangerous when he presents himself as a friend who only wants to help us.

The pope was reflecting on the Gospel passage of the day Jesus speaks of a devil who has been cast out and later returns with seven other demons “more wicked than itself,” who set up residence in a person’s soul.

“Many times when Jesus drives out demons, they try to ruin the person, to do harm, even physically,” the pope said, because the devil never wants to leave.

“When he cannot destroy face to face — because there is a force of God that defends the person — the devil is smarter than a fox, he is astute, and seeks the way to regain possession of that house, of that soul, of that person,” he said.

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