I saw something that really bothered me the other day at Ann Barnhardt’s site. She picked up on a post by Tradition In Action which reported that the Vatican’s daily, L’Osservatore Romano, published something on Holy Thursday (Anno CLXI n. 74 – 1 aprile 2021) which seems very much like an attempt to “rehabilitate” the betrayer of the Lord, Judas.
Think about that for a moment.
The 2021 Good Friday edition of the Vatican’s newspaper was dedicated to praising Judas. On the front page was a naked Jesus tenderly ministering to a dead Judas, & featured commentaries stated that Judas was forgiven & that Christ owes His glory to him. https://t.co/kIreZ9WMma pic.twitter.com/4AwssZ5iCv
— Tradition in Action (@TraditionAction) April 5, 2021
Christ does NOT owe His glory to Judas.
L’Osservatore Romano is a notorious disaster of a site. However, Tradition in Action captured screenshots of the relevant pages.
In an introduction by one Andrea Monda, we read that the abysmal figure of Judas is counterbalanced by the abyss of mercy which is the Lord. He goes on to explain who else will be writing in this mini-section on Judas… on Holy Thursday. Monda says that this special focus was inspired by Francis’ meditation in a book from 2018 in which Francis said that he had a photo of a capital of a column in a romanesque church in France, depicting the hanging and then deposition of Judas. Francis thinks it is the Good Shepard who has come to retrieve the dead Betrayer. There is a large photo of the capital. It clearly is not the Good Shepherd, btw.
The writers include a famous leftist activist populist Italian priest writing in the 1950’s, Primo Mazzolari (“Our Brother, Judas”), super-liberal, late Jesuit Card. Carlo Maria Martini (“Shadows and light” from a book in 2007), Giuseppe Berto (“Glory” from a book of 1978), Giovanni Papini (“The mystery of a ‘no'” from a book of 1921). They had to dig. This last piece mentioned has the writer suggesting that when Satan entered Judas’ heart it was “improvvisamente”. To which I respond “B as in B, S as in S”: Judas was, all along, a thief, stealing from the common purse. For sometime he sought a way to betray the Lord. Scripture doesn’t say, “Judas sought a way to play a sophisticated pre-determined and vital role so that Christ could fulfill prophesies.” He sought to betray the Lord.
Let’s be straight about Judas. After the night at Bethany, when the woman with the alabaster box and precious nard anointed Christ’s feet and Judas complained about the expense (because he was stealing from the common purse), Judas, on that Spy Wednesday, sold the Lord’s upcoming betrayal for 30 silver pieces. The next night, the Passover, Christ said in Matthew 26:24-25:
“The Son of man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.” 25 Judas, who betrayed him, said, “Is it I, Master?” He said to him, “You have said so.”
He didn’t respond, “You have a really complicated role to play, filled with subtle distinctions and aporia.”
“It would have been better for him if he had not been born.”
Even a period in purgatory so long that you were the only one left, and for a long time, would still be great because of the promise of heaven. The only ones about whom you would say, “better not to have been born” are the damned.
While hanging on the limb, did Judas truly repent? Christ does not suggest such an outcome for the Betrayer. During the same meal, evening, Christ predicts Peter‘s betrayal but that, in contrast to Judas, Peter would be okay.
The constant teaching of the Church for centuries has held Judas to be the betrayer of the Lord who receives punishment for his action.
A bare few nights ago, I sang the Holy Thursday Collect. Remember that liturgical prayer is doctrine, it is a theological locus that must be respected. The Collect assumes a contrast between the fate of the Good Thief on his cross-limb and the fate of Judas on his tree-limb: one received “reward” because of his confession of faith (confessionis praemium) which is heaven and the other “punishment” of his guilt (reatus poenam) which is anti-heaven, hell. So the Church has prayed for centuries. It has been prayed at least since the mid-9th c. as it appeared in the Liber sacramentorum Augustodunensis. That’s a 1000 years, at least. The variations of the prayer include “Iudas proditor”.
That “reatus“, “guilt”, a concept systematically stripped from the edited and composed prayers of the Novus Ordo, is a key. We can commit acts which are objectively sins and not bear all or any of the guilt of the objectively sinful act. For example, if compelled by fear or being out of our minds or wholly deceived, etc., we can be subjectively not guilty even though an objectively sinful act was committed. But that was not Judas’ condition. And so the prayer says that he received the reatus poenam… “punishment of guilt”.
In the Roman Canon we clearly say, “on the night he was betrayed“, not “on the night when He was nuanced into custody”.
“But Father! But Father!”, you apokatastasists are squealing, “Scripture says ‘Judas repented’, but, No!, you don’t pay attention to the Scripture you don’t like because YOU HATE VATICAN II!”
I know enough about Scripture to seek the help of those far greater than I in interpreting it. For example, the Fathers of the Church. The Fathers (St John Chrysostom, St. Leo the Great, St. Augustine) point out that Judas’ suicide shows that his “repentance” is not the sort that lead to a request for mercy. While the Fathers are firm in saying that had Judas sought pardon, it would have been given, instead Judas did not have the sort of remorse that lead to true repentance.
However Judas died, and there are variations, I don’t think there is much doubt about where he is now.
So why would one purposely maintain an image of Judas in one’s clear view?
I don’t know why a Jesuit would have one. I don’t think like they think.
Were I to have one it would be to remind myself that, in my every sin, I betray the Lord, that my sins crucified Him. “Don’t be a Judas.”
I don’t have an image of Judas. That’s just a little creepy.
I do have one of Miguel Pro.
I take note of a contribution in that L’OssRom by the Jesuit Card. Martini. I call to mind the Jesuit participation in the making of the movie “Silence” which, from the book by Endo, portrays the betrayal of Jesuit missionary in Japan by a “Judas” figure. Instead of remaining a Christ-figure (as the Whiskey Priest does in Graham Green’s book) he himself becomes a Judas, seemingly at the Lord’s own prompting, as if the Lord were saying, “I would betray me so you can too”. What an evil book and movie.
Oh, how sophisticated we are! We can rehabilitate Judas!
Is it coincidence that on 23 March 2021, Jesuits, including Jesuit homosexualist activist James Martin, our modern Geryon, held a webinar entitled, “Hope for Judas? A spiritual conversation on Judas and God’s boundless mercy for us all”?
I rather think not.
A last thing about that L’Osservatore Romano showcase on Judas. On the front page of L’Osservatore – on Holy Thursday – there is a poorly executed sketch of a naked Christ (implying that he is fresh from the tomb immediately after the resurrection) cradling the dead body of the thief, suicide, formerly possessed, betrayer, Judas. There is a strong tradition that the first mission/appearance of the Lord after His resurrection was to His Mother, Mary. Here, the implication is that it was to suicide-dead Judas, whom Christ called the “son of perdition” (John 17:12).
Folks, Hell is a reflection of God’s justice and love. He loves us and lets us freely make our choices. Hell and its punishments also reflect God’s great holiness. Eternal separation from God of evil, that which is inimical to God, reveals God’s infinite holiness, for holiness cannot be united with what is evil. God’s wrath also reveals God’s infinite goodness. God must put apart and away from Himself, whatever it is evil.
On the one hand, I don’t like the idea that there is anyone in Hell because I want everyone to be happy. On the other hand, if a soul going to Hell is the result of God’s justice and love, and it always is, therefore … “Hell, yeah!”, as they say. E’n la sua volontad è nostra pace.
Those of you who don’t read Italian are at a disadvantage in reading and responding to this post. I will keep the combox open, but turn on moderation.