The Good against Evil

09 March 2020
Étienne Vető: The Satan has no power over the human mind

“I have no doubt that forces of Evil exist and I do believe in the existence of the Satan. However, the power of Good in the world also exists, and it is huge. I am convinced that it is incomparably stronger than the forces of Evil” – as the Good and Evil fight is briefly summarized by Étienne Vető, a prospective lecturer of the 52nd Eucharistic Congress to be held in Budapest.

According to the 56 years old, Hungarian origin Professor of the Rome Pontifical Gregorian University, any of us can easily become enslaved to the negative thoughts like anger, aloofness, distrust, and all these severely lock our decisions. Day by day we pass through the lack of Free Will, and despite all our best efforts we are just unable to understand the freedom offered by Jesus. The university professor reminds us that liberation from the Satan is part of Jesus’ teaching and of the mission, by which Christ entrusted his Church.

Jewish–Christian relations

Étienne Vető lives in Rome, currently works as a Professor of the Pontifical Gregorian University, his major subjects are dogmatic Theology and Ecumenism, while at the same time he serves as Director of the Cardinal Bea Centre for Judaic Studies (named after Cardinal Augustin Bea) of said university and as a Consultant to the Centre of Jewish-Christian Relations. The cornerstone of his work is the development of friendship and mutual respect between Christians and Jews of our time. He is fond of citing John Paul II: “Jewish-Christian relations are not “inter-religious” but “intra-familiars” instead.”

Father Vető was born in the USA from a French-Hungarian couple. His father, the Philosopher Miklós Vető was of Jewish origin, baptised at the age of 9 in a Catholic Church of Budapest during the 2nd World War. On the occasion of Philosopher Vető’s 80th birthday a conference was held at the Pázmány Péter Catholic University, on the opening ceremony of which Miklós Vető was greeted by Péter Erdő, Archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest.

The Eucharistic Congress’ lecturer’s father left Hungary in 1957, just right after the fall of the Revolution, then moved to France, where he met his wife. Later on the couple moved to the United States, where Miklós Vető taught Philosophy while his wife taught Comparative Literature at the Yale University. No wonder that in such a background from both parents’ side little Etienne became a book lover as from his early childhood onward.

Jesus is present ever since and always

“Yes, I do love reading. As a little boy in the United States, every second Wednesday I went to the library and took 30 books at a time. I got up very early every day, just to have time to read. At one point my parents actually ruled that I had to wait until 6 am to start reading. I started this habit at the age of 7-8.”

Goes without saying that reading also included getting familiar with the Bible. That is how he recalls: “I owned a small New Testament that I started reading on my own. I fantasized about Gandhi and other spiritual leaders. When I read my New Testament, I felt Jesus was actually there, and he still remained there with me when I closed the book.”

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free, stand firm then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery” – cites Father Vető the saying of Paul the Apostle, adding as an example that very preaching from Gospel of Luke, when Jesus sent his 72 disciples out to the cities. Upon their return they said with joy: “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name! Jesus replied: I saw the Satan fall like lightning from the heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing can harm you.” (Gospel of Luke 10:17-18)

Father Vető strongly believes that the Satan has no supreme power over the human mind, since the Evil spirit might have impact on the human fantasy and emotion, but it can never ever influence intelligence and free will, that is to say, the Evil spirit is unable to control us the way as the Puppet Master manipulates his puppet.

Being a Christian is pretty cool

Being very much committed to serve the youth and married couples, Father Vető is also a member of the “Chemin Neuf” community, a Roman Catholic Community with an ecumenical vocation, which grew out of a prayer group in Lyon, France in 1973. The community offers praying, retreats, spiritual exercises to families, to married and single men and women, to young university and high school students. The main mission of the community is to evangelise, to proclaim the love of Christ to all people, and to teach Christians how to strengthen their faith. Workshops on the Bible and on Theological topics enable the young generation to reinforce themselves spiritually, moreover to experience how cool it is to be a Christian. On top, such a spiritual training is a unique testimony towards the youth. A testimony that God is always with us, both in joy, in parties, in cheerful times spent together, such as in our lonely church prayers.