Did you know that 'devil's advocates' existed?

Popularly, we use the term "devil's advocate" to designate the person who holds views that she does not necessarily agree with, usually to present an argument against others and to test divergent views.

But did you know that the "devil's advocates" really existed? Within the Catholic Church, there was a figure appointed by the religious institution to occupy this position, which in Latin was called advocatus diaboli .

This function was instituted by Pope Sixtus V in the year 1587. Officially, the office gave the title of “Promoter of the Faith” to anyone who could participate in the canonization process of a candidate to advocate against the request. His job was to remain skeptical of the evidence, argue against the attributed miracles, and look for flaws in the candidate's track record.

The critical stance against canonization aimed to maintain the smoothness of the Catholic Church, but these people were given the informal name "devil's advocates." The post was abolished from the institution after Pope John Paul II revised the canonical process in 1979.