Church Leaders Can Follow Peter, John … or Judas

By John Zmirak Published on July 2, 2018

Watching the witness in the public sphere of church leaders isn’t always edifying. In fact, it’s often deeply discouraging. But keeping in mind the behavior of the Church’s very first leaders, perhaps it’s not too surprising.

Among the 12 apostles, Jesus found only one utterly faithless, Judas — who sold Him for 30 pieces of silver. We don’t really know the “why” of that betrayal. Church fathers attributed it to greed. (You’ll see prayers in Eastern liturgies that speak of that specifically.) Others have suggested, perhaps more plausibly, that Judas saw before the other apostles that Jesus was not a military messiah. That He wouldn’t use force to create the Kingdom of Heaven on earth in Jerusalem. Instead of merely puzzling over what He really was, then, Judas took action. And took the silver. Then took his own life.

While the Church has always been reluctant to get specific about who goes to hell, this case suggests an exception. We have Jesus’ own words to ponder:

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. (Matt. 26:24)

It’s hard to square that with any other conclusion. Or with hopeful theories of an entirely empty hell.

It’s Judas who set the precedent for that rather rare Church leader, who simply flips on the Gospel and starts calling good evil, and evil good. Forthrightly, with no excuse, he joins the enemies of Christ. The leaders of German churches who submitted their churches to the Nazis — even rejecting the Old Testament, for being Jewish — are the easiest examples we can cite. In America, those clergy who’ve openly endorsed “abortion rights” follow in their goosesteps.

The Seamless Garment … of Judas

In my own Catholic Church, I don’t know of many bishops who’ve gone to that extreme. But some have come close. For instance, Belgium’s retired (but still influential) Cardinal Godfried Danneels. As we’ve already reported here:

Daneels is one of the most destructive theological radicals in the Catholic church. When Belgium legalized same-sex “marriage,” the cardinal congratulated the government for doing so. As Vatican Insider reports, the cardinal went on to say: “The Church has never objected to the fact that there is a sort of ‘marriage’ between homosexuals.” Of course, this is nonsense; the Catechism of the Catholic Church echoes scripture in calling the conjugal behavior in such “sort of” marriages “acts of grave moral depravity.” (CCC, 2357)

[As LifeSiteNews reports] “Abortion was legalized relatively late in Belgium, compared to its European neighbors, in 1990; Danneels is said to have tried at the time to convince King Baudouin to sign the abortion bill into law….”

The collapse of the Belgian church under Danneels’ leadership was so precipitous that Pope John Paul II spoke out publicly about it in 2003.

Danneels also presided over one of the worst priestly sex abuse scandals in Europe, whose cover-up was so extensive that it led to Belgian police searching a bishop’s palace and even opening a bishop’s grave to search for evidence.

Nor has the U.S. been spared such shepherds, though the examples are less extreme. Look at those who knew about and covered up the predatory homosexual behavior of the former Archbishop of our nation’s capital, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. (That included molesting a single underage boy, along with uncounted seminarians in their 20s.) Or bishops who leave their seminaries in the control of “lavender mafias,” as the late Paul Likoudis, a lonely but courageous Catholic journalist, spent decades pointing out at the fearless Catholic paper The Wanderer.

What about those who equate monstrosities like Planned Parenthood’s organ trafficking with the enforcement of immigration law or the defense of Americans’ gun rights? On this logic, you cannot condemn selling baby lungs and eyes in Styrofoam coolers like chicken parts from KFC, unless you endorse a crackpot utopian agenda that matches the furthest left political stances in America. (The left, of course, is lockstep pro-choice.) Is there a better way to keep abortion legal forever? I really can’t think of one.

The unborn have fewer legal protections in America than farm animals (which must be killed humanely). They are surely the “least among … the brethren.” What we do or don’t do for them, we do or don’t do for Jesus (Matt. 25:41) Equating their slaughter with lesser, entirely arguable issues of prudence? That tiptoes to the edge of Judas-level treachery.

“I Don’t Even Know the Man!”

More bishops recall St. Peter, who never turned against Our Lord. He simply fled along with most of the other apostles, and found himself in a tight spot. In the lynch mob atmosphere that followed Jesus’ arrest, some bystanders identified Peter as one of the apostles. As Jesus had predicted — in response to Peter boasting of his devotion — Peter denied it. Three times. Then the cock crowed.

But unlike Judas, who’d acted out of malice instead of fear, Peter could still repent. He “wept bitterly” and rejoined the other apostles. After Pentecost, he became one of the bravest confessors of the faith. I hope that happens to those American bishops who hunkered down for cover on crucial moral issues. Without endorsing the outright evil of the Seamless Garment, they’ve failed to step forth and witness to crucial truths.

Most obvious: the fact that politicians who promote illegal abortion have no business receiving Communion. As Chris Manion pointed out here at The Stream, there are ten pro-abortion candidates for the U.S. Senate this fall. How many of them have heard a public condemnation of their position or been denied Holy Communion? Not one.

More bishops recall St. Peter, who never turned against Our Lord. He simply fled along with most of the other apostles, and found himself in a tight spot. In the lynch mob atmosphere that followed Jesus’ arrest, some bystanders identified Peter as one of the apostles. As Jesus had predicted — in response to Peter boasting of his devotion — Peter denied it. Three times. Then the cock crowed.

Let’s hope and pray that these shepherds receive the same Spirit as Peter, which will bring them repentance and courage.

“Woman, Behold Your Son!”

At the opposite end of the apostolic spectrum we find St. John. Alone among Jesus’ chosen leaders for the Church, John didn’t run and hide. As his own Gospel recounts:

But standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!”Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home. (John 19:25-27)

It’s not surprising, perhaps, that among bishops today, the ratio of those like St. John is as low as it was in AD 33. But I’m pleased to point out the Johannine spirit whenever it shows itself. It gives us hope.

The Apostle John Is Alive and Well and Has a Twitter Account

Two examples worth calling out for praise:

Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, Illinois. As I noted back in February:

Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois lives in Paprocki’s diocese. He voted against protecting the lives of unborn children — even those who might be viable outside the womb.

In answer, Paprocki called on him to repent. Till he does, Durbin may not receive the Body and Blood of Christ in Holy Communion.

Recently, Paprocki has again shown his willingness to stand firm when his fellow bishops are fleeing. When the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that labor unions may not force unwilling employees to pay dues — supporting, by the way, their lockstep pro-choice and anti-family stances — most bishops spoke against them. Trapped in an obsolete, knee-jerk pro-union stance, the bishops conference simply ignored employees’ freedom of association. Not to mention the outright evil these unions do by espousing vicious policies.

Not Paprocki. The bishop Tweeted:

Equally uplifting is the witness of Bishop Thomas Tobin of Rhode Island. He has faced down enormous public pressure inside the Church and out for defending natural, biblical marriage. He has also been forthright and strong in defending the right to life. So forthright, in fact, that pro-aborts took to the skies to denounce him. See what happened (and Tobin’s bold Christian response) below:

No doubt the good bishop remembers how Jesus said we should react when such things happen:

Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so men persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matt. 5, 11-12)

If you’re a prominent Christian, and the enemies of Christ aren’t lighting up the skies denouncing you, then you’re probably doing it wrong.

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  • Howard Rosenbaum

    Right. “ The Lord knows those who are His” . So do we . For those who “ confess the name of the Lord MUST turn away from wickedness “ ….

  • Patmos

    Jesus did not come to condemn but to save. So while it is true grace must be proceeded with a call to repent, with that call to repent having a pretty good chance of being met with some stubbornness, it’s important to keep an eye out for that slight opening of the door where The Holy Spirit can sneak in and touch a person so that they understand that glorious transaction that trades sin for righteousness and creates a new creature in Christ.

    Let this mind of Christ be in you, who thought it not robbery to be equal with God.

    It’s a tricky thing to look for and see that slight opening, that opportunity for salvation and the light of Christ to enter in, but it’s also somewhat relieving in that it removes you from the fight that exists at that base level.

    Sometimes the opening simply doesn’t come, to which, have no fellowship with unfruitful works of darkness but rather reprove them. No one can come to Christ unless granted by the Father. Father grant it to them.

    • Germaine Maga

      Even when the Father grants that to us, we still have the freedom to say yes or no. As for someone like Danneels, I think he has sold his soul to the devil. This man asked the king to accept to legalise abortion, at the point that the king, a lay Catholic had to resign in order to not participate to such abomination.

  • tz1

    Such bishops and pastors seem to want to hang together.

  • Chip Crawford

    Be sure you are in your places with bright shiny faces. We want to be part of the answer, used of God, not deceived as so many nominal groups, churches and Christians. The emotional pull is designed to draw away those not grounded and ignorant of the devices at play. Some just do not have enough of the Holy Spirit influence in their lives to see the true from the false. Others also do not know the word sufficiently to know “it is also written” when deceivers attempt to use out of context scripture against them. Satan pulled that on Jesus in the wilderness. Let that be an example. Thank God for and support public figures and leaders who stand up for truth. Guard your heart, but let not your heart be troubled. Greater is He who is in us than he who is in the world. 1 John 4:4

  • ArthurMcGowan

    Danneels is a perfect example of the mysterious paralysis and impotence of JPII. Weakland is another. Mahony is another, Wuerl is another. In the case of HUNDREDS of heretical and fornicating, sodomizing bishops around the world, JPII moaned and whined and didn’t lift a finger.

  • Pamela

    Stand strong, Bishop Tobin. RI does not speak the Truth.

  • Patricia Hefferen

    I have fund in my journey towards Christ that my faith has become more firm and open. I no longer keep io myself but speak openly and quietly about the grace, mercy and goodness of our Lord. Recently I came across a quote from Luke 1:31 “With God nothing is impossible.” I wait for the day that the Lord’s arms will open to receive my in Heaven and work daily to improve myself and my faith.

    • Nanita Staley

      If you have received Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you are already in His arms. And there is no “work” you have to do to make yourself more pleasing or more acceptable to Him. That is the burden men put on you, not God. You could not do anything in that regard. He did it all when He spread His arms and allowed Himself to be crucified for your sins. He paid the price, Only Holy blood can pay the price for all that sin and make you clean before the Father. The debt is paid so be at rest. Now, the only job you have is to be obedient, follow the Holy Spirit. Be a good disciple and take up your cross. Begin to read God’s word, the scriptures, and expect Him to teach you and lead you into the Light. Blessings on your journey to knowing Jesus!

      • Alfy

        You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless. Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,”and he was called God’s friend. You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.

        In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.

  • Bridget

    God Bless Bishop Tobin !

  • Kevin Fogarty

    She was not a senator, but Governor Sebelius of Kansas was instructed by Archbishop Naumann not to take Communion in 2008.

  • J.Christopher

    It is easy today to identify the big players in the modernist church, you have to admire them; Cupich, Martin, Dolan; they stick by their beliefs, ready to haul our antiquated church into the sterilized, 30 something, modern (and very temporary) world.
    What the innocent bystanders (the rest of the indecisive & dumbfounded clergy) do not seem to grasp is; that this fight; (nearly over) is about authority i.e. correction of errors, mind over matter (if you don’t mind, it don’t matter) DEMOCRACY if you can believe it.
    can you imagine what Pope St Pius X would have said if the Jesuits had suggested that he be a bit more democratic?
    if someone dose not take the reins of our Holy & apostolic Monarchy, the only place there will be left to run is into the arms of the SSPX ( unfortunately; no pope over there)
    Running into authority!, away from democracy! but people like democracy……don’t they? shall we vote on Eucharist in the hand, in the basket , on the floor?
    would you like Wine with that? alter girls? or boys; the transgender alb or cassock & surplus ( how old fashioned!!)
    oh well, lets take a poll.
    Attention, attention!
    The Papal Bull……. take a poll! Whatcha all wana do? ver’ goot wit it!

    “The fort is abandoned by those who should have 1st defended it”
    St John Fisher

    • Chalky White

      I posted my comment above before reading down to yours. That quote by St John Fisher says so much. . . but in the absence of defenders in uniform we have to do what we can . . . and no doubt make mistakes too.

  • Howard

    What about those who equate monstrosities like Planned Parenthood’s organ trafficking with the enforcement of immigration law or the defense of Americans’ gun rights?

    Those same people will, of course, equate this very article with Mein Kampf.

  • Nanita Staley

    Scripture is very plain about Judas’ purpose for betrayal. What part of the story presented in the Gospels about Judas’ betrayal of Jesus do you not understand? You are clearly gifted with brilliant thinking. This is a very simple story. Judas was a thief, plain and simple. Acts 1:18, “Now this man acquired a field with the reward of his wickedness,” That was his only motive. Judas “kept the bag”, he was the treasurer for the group. He had access to all that money, and it was not a little bit. There was no accounting of it; it was his job. So he paid himself! A story as old as time itself. Thieves think only of themselves and their desires, and then they act on it. And without repentance, they pay for that sin and all the others they have ever committed for ALL eternity!
    There is one Lord, His name is Jesus. There is no back up plan for those who disagree with Him and His authority in all matters. One Way!

    • Patricia Hefferen

      Thank you, Nanita. My husband and I both belong to an orthodox Catholic Church. I mentioned this to a friend of mine who sent all her children to parochial school K-12. She and her husband attend Mass sporadically. She replied that , said that some people do not attend Our Lady Queen of Peace because of its orthodoxy. I spent an hour at Eurcharistic Adoration yesterday, said The Rosary and the Holy Spirit filled my heart. The Lord has said “Can you not spend an hour with me?” That and a thousand times more. The Evil one is alive in the world and we, as Christians of every denomination, must know that we are at war. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Walk with him at every opportunity.God blesses you.

  • Chalky White

    You might recall that only one bishop (John Fisher of Rochester) seriously opposed Henry VIII of England over the Act of Supremacy. If they had been united in raising their voices, England would still be Catholic. But, Shhhhhh, keep quiet about such things.

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