Francis once again shows his preferences, calling Jesus’ traitor a “poor, penitent man”.
He who perpetrated the most heinous crime of all history is now the object of the Supreme Pontiff’s compassion… Would the saying “Tell me who your friends are, and I will tell you who you are” fittingly apply to this case?
In reality, Judas’ worse malice did not lie in his actual betrayal, but in his rejection of divine mercy. He had been eye witness to the pardon Jesus had granted Mary Magdalene and His divine love for her. He had personally heard Our Lord uttering the words ‘There will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance’ (Lk 15:7). If Judas had “recognized his crime” with true repentance, he would not have hesitated to give Our Lord this joy. If he really loved Him, he would have been eager to make up for his offence by humiliating himself and becoming the object of the same mercy he had so many times seen poured out for others. However, already accustomed to close his heart toward Our Lord, he ceded to the temptation to make one last affront, of the most violent kind, by despairing – by not believing that forgiveness could go that far.
And, why ever would the Pharisees have had compassion toward Judas? They were perfectly content with the deal they had closed. Moreover, what do the Pharisees and their attachment to Jewish customs have to do with the question of Judas’ despair? Why Judas would show the Pharisees his repentance, instead of Christ, the offended party, would be the more fitting question to ponder. After all, the Pharisees were entrenched in evil and were his accomplices in crime.
Saint Peter had also sinned grievously. Yet, what a difference between the repentance of the two…that is, if we could really call Judas’ sentiments ‘repentance’. Saint Peter gazed toward the Redeemer and opened himself to His mercy, crying bitterly, but sincerely contrite; while Judas fled from the only One who could save him. Who of the two was truly a “repentant man”? It could almost be affirmed that Leo XIII was referring to Francis’ words when he warned: “During the last months […] the last touch of shame was added in an attempt to rescue from the execration of ages the guilty name of him who was the very sign of perfidy, the betrayer of Christ” (Encyclical Iucunda Semper Expectatione, n. 16, September 8, 1894).
To better understand Francis’ words, take a careful look at what 2000 years of Church History has produced in doctrine regarding Judas’ the betrayal. More….