Sympathy for Judas

A powerful presentation in the movie The Robe (1953), by the late great Michael Ansara, of a repentant Judas sunk in the sin of despair.  Pope Francis touched upon the theme of a repentant Judas with bizarre results.  Oakes Spaulding at Mahound’s Paradise surveys the damage:


Then Francis presented a novel theory on Judas and the high priests.

Yes, all sorts of people, including Gnostics and Germans have argued that Judas was not such a bad guy, that he was really doing Jesus and/or us a favor in carrying out the prophecy, or making it possible for Jesus to die on the cross (and thus redeem us) or whatever. But this new theory goes beyond that. As far as I know, no one ever in the history of the world has ever blamed the Jewish high priests for Judas’ suicide:

Pope Francis said: “It hurts when I read that small passage from the Gospel of Matthew, when Judas, who has repented, goes to the priests and says: ‘I have sinned’ and wants to give … and gives them the coins. ‘Who cares! – they say to him: it’s none of our business!’ They closed their hearts before this poor, repentant man, who did not know what to do. And he went and hanged himself. 

And what did they do when Judas hanged himself? They spoke amongst themselves and said: ‘Is he a poor man? No! These coins are the price of blood, they must not enter the temple… and they referred to this rule and to that… The doctors of the letter. “ 

The life of a person did not matter to them, the Pope observed, they did not care about Judas’ repentance. 

The Gospel, he continued, says that Judas came back repentant. But all that mattered to them “were the laws, so many words and things they had built”.

So Judas went to confess to the Jewish high priests. But they were bad confessors and rejected him since they (I guess) had no mercy.
It is tedious to observe that:
  1. The Jewish high priests (being Jewish high priests) had no power to forgive sins in that sense.
  2. Neither Judas nor the high priests believed they had such a power.
  3. In any case, while looking down at Judas for being sort of a rat, the priests obviously wouldn’t think that acting against Jesus was per se a sin.
  4. Judas’ repentance was belied by the fact of his subsequent suicide, as well as (according to most Biblical commentators) the peculiar Greek word used for “repentance” in this passage but not in other passages.
  5. The common understanding is that his repentance was more akin to “stupid move” than “I’m truly sorry that I betrayed my Master and friend.” (Again, see suicide and Greek word used.)
  6. This is reinforced by the fact that Judas did not try to save Jesus or go back to the other apostles and apologize, etc. Rather, he pulled a “poor me.”
So Francis believes in what some have called the “blood libel.”
But concerning Judas not Jesus.
Interestingly, in today’s homily, Bergoglio then went on to repeat a sort of anti-Catholic blood libel–that the Church has a long history of burning dissidents and so on:

“History tells us of many people who were judged and killed, although they were innocent: judged according to the Word of God, against the Word of God. Let’s think of witch hunts or of St. Joan of Arc, and of many others who were burnt to death, condemned because according to the judges they were not in line with the Word of God” he said.

This isn’t Catholic. It’s anti-Catholic.


Who will be the first bishop to stand up to this?

Continue reading

Judas and Us


How many Christians have wished that they could have been present with Christ while He was here on Earth!  To walk with Him, to listen to His parables, to see Him perform miracles and perhaps to ask Him questions.  Greatest of all privileges:  to be present at the Last Supper, the first Mass.  Imagine being present when He turned bread into His flesh and wine into His blood.  A true foretaste of Heaven!  What Christian worthy of that name would not trade everything he owns to experience that!  The mind then reels when we consider Judas.

He walked with Christ, and talked with Christ.  He saw the miracles. He participated at the first Mass.  Then he went out and betrayed Christ.  What motivated Judas to do this, and what caused him to bitterly regret his betrayal and then hang himself?  We can only guess.  He was a thief and stole from the common purse that he was in charge of.  He condemned the “waste” of oil for the feet of Christ, claiming it could have been used for the poor.  Did he betray Christ merely because of his lust for money?  I do not think so.  In his remorse over his betrayal of Jesus he threw back at the feet of the priests the blood money he had been paid.  If not money, then why?

Perhaps simple doubt.  We are certain that we would not be afflicted by such doubt if we had seen Christ.  Really?  We know that the movement he created now claims the allegiance of two billion people on the planet, and we can see how the Truth He preached has endured for twenty centuries.  Yet, how many of us turn away from Christ?   How many of us have cherished sins that we are unable to give up?  How many of us live our lives as if Christ never came to us?

Considering that, let us place ourselves in the shoes of Judas.  We know he was weak or he would not have been a thief.  By the time of the Last Supper he may have been filled with fear that Christ was heading towards disaster, His movement doomed to be crushed by either the Temple priests or the Romans.  The way in which the Disciples ran away, the denials of Peter, demonstrate that Judas would not have been alone in such fears.  Yes, it is quite likely that Judas betrayed Christ out of fear and doubt.  If Christ was headed towards destruction anyway, it only made common sense to get on the right side of the powers that be.  Looking at the contemporary world, how many of us make such a Judas bargain day by day, as we slowly betray Christ with our sins, our doubts and our desire to curry favor with the dominant powers that be of the World? Continue reading

The Judas Tradition

The Judas Tradition


It is a long and dishonorable tradition in Christianity, I call it the Judas Tradition, to place at the helm of ostensibly Christian organizations people who end up eager to transform the organization into an adversary of Christianity.  Christopher Johnson, a non-Catholic who has taken up the cudgels so frequently in defense of the Church that I have named him Defender of the Faith, gives us the latest example:

Another “Christian” ministry surrenders to the Zeitgeist:

World Vision’s American branch will no longer require its more than 1,100 employees to restrict their sexual activity to marriage between one man and one woman.

Abstinence outside of marriage remains a rule. But a policy change announced Monday [March 24] will now permit gay Christians in legal same-sex marriages to be employed at one of America’s largest Christian charities.

Stearns asserts that the “very narrow policy change” should be viewed by others as “symbolic not of compromise but of [Christian] unity.” He even hopes it will inspire unity elsewhere among Christians.

Oh, sweet mother of…

“Changing the employee conduct policy to allow someone in a same-sex marriage who is a professed believer in Jesus Christ to work for us makes our policy more consistent with our practice on other divisive issues,” he said. “It also allows us to treat all of our employees the same way: abstinence outside of marriage, and fidelity within marriage.”

Face?  Palm?  You know the drill.

“It’s easy to read a lot more into this decision than is really there,” he said. “This is not an endorsement of same-sex marriage. We have decided we are not going to get into that debate. Nor is this a rejection of traditional marriage, which we affirm and support.”

“We’re not caving to some kind of pressure. We’re not on some slippery slope. There is no lawsuit threatening us. There is no employee group lobbying us,” said Stearns. “This is not us compromising. It is us deferring to the authority of churches and denominations on theological issues. We’re an operational arm of the global church, we’re not a theological arm of the church.”

Give me a break, Stearnsie.  Quick question.  If you weren’t under some kind of pressure, if some group or other wasn’t threatening to sue you, then WHY MAKE THE POLICY CHANGE AT ALL?!!

While we’re on the subject of slippery slopes there, Stearnsie, what are you going to tell a potential employee who wants a job with World Vision but tells you that he’s a devout Christian who’s living with and currently banging three women on a regular basis?  After all, “the global church” hasn’t definitively weighed on that topic yet, has it?

Prominent Christian thinkers aren’t buying what you’re selling, Stearnsie.  Russell Moore:

At stake is the gospel of Jesus Christ. If sexual activity outside of a biblical definition of marriage is morally neutral, then, yes, we should avoid making an issue of it. If, though, what the Bible clearly teaches and what the church has held for 2000 years is true, then refusing to call for repentance is unspeakably cruel and, in fact, devilish.

John Piper:

This is a tragic development for the cause of Christ, because it trivializes perdition — and therefore, the cross — and because it sets a trajectory for the demise of true compassion for the poor.

When J.I. Packer walked out of the 2002 synod of the Anglican Diocese of New Westminster, he was protesting its decision to “bless same-sex unions.” His rationale is relevant for the developments at World Vision.

First, his words about unity expose the crass alignment of homosexual intercourse and baptism as comparable markers for biblical faithfulness. Packer wrote, “It is most misleading, indeed crass, to call this disagreement simply a difference about interpretation, of the kind for which Anglican comprehensiveness has always sought to make room.”

When World Vision says, “We cannot jump into the fight on one side or another on this issue,” here is the side they do, in fact, jump onto: We forbid fornication and adultery as acceptable lifestyles among our employees (which they do), but we will not forbid the regular practice of homosexual intercourse. To presume that this position is not “jumping into the fight on one side or the other” is fanciful.

But worse than fancy, removing homosexual intercourse from its biblical alignment with fornication and adultery (and greed and theft and drunkenness) trivializes its correlation with perdition.

Mark Marshall:

The explanation given by World Vision President Richard Stearns is fatuous.  He claims World Vision is remaining neutral on the issue of same-sex “marriage”.  No, World Vision’s policy for employees was celibacy for singles and monogamy for the married.  By deciding that gay sex inside of same-sex “marriage” meets that requirement for employees, World Vision is most definitely taking sides.

This is a cover for partnership with apostate denominations and letting them call the shots.  The United Church of Christ holds to the faith of the creeds?  Really?  As long as libchurchers can cross their fingers and mouth a creed, Stearns is just fine with partnering with them and letting them set, nay, abolish Christian moral standards for employees.  And that in the name of a unity which really destroys genuine Christian unity.

Franklin Graham:

I was shocked today to hear of World Vision’s decision to hire employees in same-sex marriages. The Bible is clear that marriage is between a man and a woman. My dear friend, Bob Pierce, the founder of World Vision and Samaritan’s Purse, would be heartbroken. He was an evangelist who believed in the inspired Word of God. World Vision maintains that their decision is based on unifying the church – which I find offensive – as if supporting sin and sinful behavior can unite the church. From the Old Testament to the New Testament, the Scriptures consistently teach that marriage is between a man and woman and any other marriage relationship is sin.

Check the stats, World Vision; Episcopalianization is not the wave of the future.  So I have no idea who you think that this move is going to impress. Continue reading

Luke Live, Days Three and Four

I continue once again with my shameless promotion of Paulist Father James DiLuzio and his Luke Live performace, part 3, covering Luke chapters 17-24.

Over the last two days, the conversation we had (Father DiLuzio continually encouraged us to have a dialogue on the text, to reach deeper meanings) focused on two fairly notorious characters: Judas Iscariot, and Pontius Pilate.  Now, in general terms, these two have been condemned since the inception of the Church.  Judas, the betrayer, has classically been believed to be in Hell, and every week we recite in our creed:  He was crucified under Pontius Pilate.

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