Dear Fr. Fortea, can a demon perform a good act?
We need to remember that demons are not engaged in doing evil 100 percent of the time. Sometimes, they just think. Doing this is not evil at all; it is merely an act of their nature. Nevertheless, demons cannot perform a supernaturally moral act (for example, an act of charity, supernatural repentance, or sincere glorification of God) because such an act requires supernatural grace.
A demon will glorify God only if it is forced to. It may regret having gone away from God, but without any true repentance or sincere pleas for forgiveness. As such, a demon can do many other natural acts with its intelligence and will. But a demon will never have the least amount of compassion or love toward anyone. This is impossible as a result of its rebellion against God, who is Love itself. A demon’s heart only hates; it revels in the suffering of others. By their own free choice, the demons will feel an acute absence of the life-giving presence of God’s love for all eternity.
To learn more about spiritual warfare and demonology, Catholic Spiritual Direction recommends Fr. Fortea’s excellent book Interview With An Exorcist – An Insider’s Look at the Devil, Demonic Possession, and the Path to Deliverance.
Art for this post on “Can Demons Do Good?”: Detail of Padre José Antonio Fortea 2017, photographed by Elgatoconbotaselgatoconbotas, 5 May 2017 own work, CCA-SA 4.0 International, Wikimedia Commons. Cover of “Interview with an Exorcist” used with permission, all rights reserved.