Judas dips into bowl, artist unknown
PAPAL palpitations are continuing to give way to anxious questions, conspiracies, and fear that the Barque of Peter is heading for rocky shoals. The fears tend to revolve around why the Pope gave some clerical positions to “liberals” or let them take key roles in the recent Synod on the Family.
But maybe the question one could also ask is why Jesus appointed Judas to be one of the Twelve Apostles? I mean, Our Lord had hundreds of followers, and at times thousands—the throngs who listened to Him preach; then there were the 72 whom He sent off on missions; and again, the twelve men whom He chose to form the foundations of the Church.
Not only did Jesus allow Judas into the inner-most circle, but Judas was apparently placed in a key curial position: treasurer.
…he was a thief and held the money bag and used to steal the contributions. (John 12:6)
Surely Our Lord, who read the hearts of the Pharisees, could have read the heart of Judas. Surely He knew that this man was not on the same page… yes, surely He knew. And yet, we read that Judas was even given a place near Jesus at the Last Supper.
As they were reclining at table and eating, Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me, one who is eating with me.” They began to be sorrowful and to say to him one after another, “Is it I?” He said to them, “It is one of the twelve, one who is dipping bread into the dish with me.” (Mark 14:18-20)
Christ, the spotless Lamb, was dipping His hand into the same bowl as the one whom He knew would betray Him. Furthermore, Jesus let Himself be kissed on the cheek by Judas—a sorrowful, but predictable act.
Why did Our Lord allow Judas to hold such positions of power in His “curia” and to be so near Him? Could it be that Jesus wanted to give Judas every opportunity to repent? Or was it to show us that Love does not pick the perfect? Or that when a souls seems utterly lost that still “love hopes all things”?  Alternatively, was Jesus allowing the Apostles to be sifted, to separate the loyal from the unfaithful, so that the apostate would show his true colors?
It is you who have stood by me in my trials; and I confer a kingdom on you, just as my Father has conferred one on me, that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom; and you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. Simon, Simon, behold Satan has demanded to sift all of you like wheat… (Luke 22:28-31)
POPE FRANCIS AND THE PROGRESSIVES
2000 years later, we have the Vicar of Christ apparently dipping his hand into the same dish as “heretics”. Why did Pope Francis allow certain “progressive” Cardinals to lead presentations at the Synod? Why did he invite “liberals” to stand with him during the introduction of his encyclical on the environment? And what of this purported “mafia” that sought to have Francis elected because, as they claimed, “Bergoglio was their man”?
Could it be that when Pope Francis said he wanted the Synod to be a “listening synod” that he meant that for every successor of the Apostles, not just the most agreeable? Could it be that the Pope has the capacity to love even those who might betray Christ again? Is it possible that the Holy Father desires that “all should be saved”, and thus is welcoming every sinner into his presence, just as Christ did, in hopes that his own gesture of mercy and kindness will convert hearts?
We don’t know exactly what the answers are. But let us also ask: could the Pope have left-leanings? Could he hold modernist sympathies? Could he be taking mercy too far, beyond the thin red line into error? 
Brothers and sisters, none of these questions really matter in the present context, where some are alleging that Pope Francis is not a valid pope. Why?
Because when Pope Leo X sold indulgences to raise funds… he still held the keys of the Kingdom.
When Pope Stephen VI, out of hatred, dragged his predecessor’s corpse through city streets… he still held the keys of the Kingdom.
When Pope Alexander VI appointed family members to power while fathering as many as ten children… he still held the keys of the Kingdom.
When Pope Benedict IX conspired to sell his papacy… he still held the keys of the Kingdom.
When Pope Clement V imposed high taxes and openly gave land to supporters and family members… he still held the keys of the Kingdom.
When Pope Sergius III ordered the death of anti-pope Christopher (and then took the papacy himself) only to, allegedly, father a child who would become Pope John XI… he still held the keys of the Kingdom.
When Peter denied Christ three times… he still held the keys of the Kingdom.
Popes have made and make mistakes and this is no surprise. Infallibility is reserved ex cathedra [“from the seat” of Peter, that is, proclamations of dogma based on Sacred Tradition]. No popes in the history of the Church have ever made ex cathedra errors. —Rev. Joseph Iannuzzi, Theologian, in a personal letter
Despite their poor judgment, scandalous behavior, sinfulness and hypocrisy, no pope in 2000 years has changed the doctrines of the Church. That, my friend, is the best argument we have that Jesus Christ is truly running the show; that the Word’s word is good.
BUT, WHAT IF…?
What about this so-called “mafia” of Cardinals who sought to have Cardinal Bergoglio (Pope Francis) elected as pope because he would push their modernist/communist agendas? It doesn’t matter what they intended (if the allegation is true). If the Holy Spirit can take a man like Peter, who publicly denied the Lord, and change his heart—or the heart of a murderous Saul—then, He can change the heart of any man elected to the Seat of Peter. Let’s not forget the conversions of Matthew or Zacchaeus who were called to the Lord’s side while they were still in the midst of sinful behavior. Moreover, when the successor of Peter holds the keys of the Kingdom, He is safeguarded by the Holy Spirit from teaching error ex cathedra—despite his personal faults and sins. For as Jesus said to Simon Peter:
Simon, Simon, behold Satan has demanded to sift all of you like wheat, but I have prayed that your own faith may not fail; and once you have turned back, you must strengthen your brothers. (Luke 22:31-32)
A reader sent me this question:
If the Pope affirms something we think is wrong— i.e. communion for divorced and remarried—what is the proper course? …should we follow Christ’s pope or should we listen to Jesus’ exact words on marriage? If that happens, there is really only one possible answer—and that is the Pope was somehow not canonically elected.
First of all, we are always following the words of Christ, whether it is on marriage, divorce, hell, etc. As both Pope Francis and Benedict XVI have affirmed:
The pope isn’t an absolute sovereign, whose thoughts and desires are law. On the contrary, the ministry of the pope is the guarantor of the obedience toward Christ and his word. —POPE BENEDICT XVI, Homily of May 8, 2005; San Diego Union-Tribune
Yet, there is always the question of how to interpret Christ’s words. And as Benedict just affirmed, this interpretation was entrusted to the Apostles who, having sat at the Lord’s feet, were given the “deposit of faith.”  So we turn to them, and to their successors, so as to “hold fast to the traditions that you were taught, either by an oral statement or by a letter” . No bishop nor any pope is an “absolute sovereign” who has the authority to alter this Sacred Tradition.
But the question here is one of pastoral significance: what happens if the Pope authorizes giving Communion to someone who is in an “objective state” of mortal sin by having entered, without an annulment, into a second marriage? If this is not theologically possible (and this of course is what has been debated in the Synod on the family), then do we have a case of a first pope actually changing the deposit of faith? And if so—my reader concludes—he couldn’t have been Pope in the first place.
Perhaps we can look at a Scriptural reference of when a pope acted contrary to sacred Revelation.
And when Cephas [Peter] came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face because he clearly was wrong. For, until some people came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he began to draw back and separated himself, because he was afraid of the circumcised. And the rest of the Jews [also] acted hypocritically along with him, with the result that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy. But when I saw that they were not on the right road in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in front of all, “If you, though a Jew, are living like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?” (Gal 2:11-14)
It is not that Peter changed doctrine regarding circumcision or permissible foods, but he was simply “not on the right road in line with the truth of the gospel.” He was acting hypocritically, and therefore, scandalously.
Regarding who can and cannot receive the Holy Eucharist is a matter of Church discipline (such as when a child can receive First Communion). It is also a matter of conscience for the recipient who must approach the Sacrament with an “informed conscience” and in a “state of grace.” For as St. Paul said,
Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will have to answer for the body and blood of the Lord. A person should examine himself, and so eat the bread and drink the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body, eats and drinks judgment on himself. (1 Cor 11:27-29)
An informed conscience is one that has been examined in light of the Church’s moral teachings. Such a self-examination should lead one to refrain from the Eucharist when he is in mortal sin, otherwise—like Judas—dipping his hands into the eucharistic “dish” with Christ would bring judgment upon himself.
Cardinal Francis Arinze of Nigeria said,
There is such a thing as objective evil and objective good. Christ said he who [divorces his wife] and marries another, Christ has one word for that action, ‘adultery.’ That’s not my word. It is Christ’s word himself, who is humble and meek in heart, who is eternal truth. So, he knows what he’s saying. —LifeSiteNews.com, October 26th, 2015
Therefore, the situation St. Paul confronted, and our present scenario, share similar grounds such that giving the Holy Eucharist to someone who is in an objective state of “adultery”…
“…would lead the faithful ‘into error and confusion regarding the Church’s teaching about the indissolubility of marriage,’” —Cardinal Raymond Burke, Ibid.
Indeed, Peter had both the Jews and Gentiles scratching their heads, not to mention the confusion that ensued for Bishop Barnabas. So, brothers and sisters, such a scenario would not render Pope Francis, therefore, an “anti-pope.” Rather it may bring about a “Peter and Paul” moment where the Holy Father could be called to re-examine his path…
However, it seems to me that Pope Francis is well aware of this temptation, having exposed it himself in the first synodal sessions:
The temptation to a destructive tendency to goodness, that in the name of a deceptive mercy binds the wounds without first curing them and treating them; that treats the symptoms and not the causes and the roots. It is the temptation of the “do-gooders,” of the fearful, and also of the so-called “progressives and liberals.” —POPE FRANCIS, Closing speech at first sessions of Synod on the Family; Catholic News Agency, October 18th, 2014
A SPIRIT OF SUSPICION… OR TRUST?
The bottom line is this: do you trust that Jesus Christ will continue to guide His flock, even when bishops are weak, even when clergy are unfaithful, even when popes are unpredictable; even when bishops are scandalous, even when clergy are complacent, even when popes are hypocrites?
Jesus will. That’s His promise.
…you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail again st it. (Matt 16:18)
And not only that. If the Bishop of Rome is validly elected then—despite his weaknesses or strengths—the Holy Spirit will continue to use him at the helm to sail the Barque of Peter past the shoals of heresy to the safe harbour of Truth.
2000 years is our best argument.
…“Master, who is the one who will betray you?” When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about him?” Jesus said to him, “What if I want him to remain until I come? What concern is it of yours? You follow me.” (John 21:21-22)
Thanks for your love, prayers, and support!
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