Refuting a Novus Ordo apologist…
Yes, Judas is in Hell:
Response to Steve Kellmeyer
Steve Kellmeyer is a “conservative” Novus Ordo apologist who runs a blog appropriately named The Fifth Column. Its tagline, however, is misleading: “Orthodox Catholic commentary on current events.”
Just how orthodox that Fifth Column is, we have had occasion to demonstrate in the past:
- The Trinity, the Muslims, and the Jews: A Brief Reply to Steve Kellmeyer
- TRADCAST 016 – includes response to Kellmeyer’s “Why Cardinal Burke Plays the Jackass”
- TRADCAST 018 – includes response to Kellmeyer’s “All Roads Lead to Rome”
This past Sunday, Apr. 3, 2022, Kellmeyer posted a write-up on his blog in which he argues that Judas Iscariot is not necessarily in hell, that is, Judas might have been saved. Kellmeyer asserts, quite falsely as we will show, that Sacred Scripture does not teach the eternal damnation of Judas:
- “Is Judas in Hell?” (The Fifth Column)
The issue of the eternal destiny of Judas has come up more and more frequently in recent years, and the reason for this is probably that the most influential proponent of the idea that the Iscariot might not be in hell is none other than the Jesuit apostate Jorge Bergoglio (aka “Pope Francis”). Remember?
- Francis: “Someone might think, ‘This Pope is a Heretic’…” for saying Judas Iscariot might be saved
- Sympathy for the Devil: Vatican Newspaper tries to elicit Compassion for Judas Iscariot on Holy Thursday
Let us now proceed to examine Kellmeyer’s thesis that the Catholic Church does not teach that Judas Iscariot is eternally damned.
The Inerrancy of Holy Scripture
Although it does not ultimately impact his overall argumentation, the Fifth Columnist begins by limiting the inerrancy of Sacred Scripture to only those matters that pertain to Faith and morals. As this is an egregious and most dangerous howler, we must refute it at some length.
Scripture is inerrant. That is, on points of faith and morals, it does not contain error. Sure, it may not accurately describe things in a way that is in accordance with experimental science, but Scripture is not meant to be a science textbook, It is, in various books and passages, a history. It engages in poetry, allitration, hyperbole, sarcasm, even cynicism, but it is on matters of faith and morals without error.
(Steve Kellmeyer, “Is Judas in Hell?”, The Fifth Column, Apr. 3, 2022; underlining added.)
Limiting the inerrancy of Sacred Scripture to religious matters is a Neo-Modernist error condemned by the Church. The authentic Roman Catholic doctrine is that Sacred Scripture is inerrant in everything, not just concering matters of Faith and morals. Considering that the ultimate author of Scripture is God Himself, this shouldn’t be terribly surprising.
Let’s look at the magisterial evidence for the position that the Bible — of course we are talking about the original manuscripts, not copies or translations — is completely free from all error.
In the 14th century, Pope Clement VI taught that “the New and Old Testaments in all their books, which the authority of the Roman Church has given to us, contain undoubted truth in all things” (Letter Super Quibusdam; Denz. 570r).
In his 1893 encyclical on Sacred Scripture, Pope Leo XIII asserted:
For all the books which the Church receives as sacred and canonical, are written wholly and entirely, with all their parts, at the dictation of the Holy Ghost; and so far is it from being possible that any error can co-exist with inspiration, that inspiration not only is essentially incompatible with error, but excludes and rejects it as absolutely and necessarily as it is impossible that God Himself, the supreme Truth, can utter that which is not true. This is the ancient and unchanging faith of the Church, solemnly defined in the Councils of Florence and of Trent, and finally confirmed and more expressly formulated by the Council of the Vatican. These are the words of the last: “The Books of the Old and New Testament, whole and entire, with all their parts, as enumerated in the decree of the same Council (Trent) and in the ancient Latin Vulgate, are to be received as sacred and canonical. And the Church holds them as sacred and canonical, not because, having been composed by human industry, they were afterwards approved by her authority; nor only because they contain revelation without error; but because, having been written under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, they have God for their author” [Denz. 1787].
(Pope Leo XIII, Encyclical Providentissimus Deus, n. 20; underlining added.)
Pope Benedict XV reaffirmed the traditional teaching in his 1920 encyclical on St. Jerome, the Church’s greatest authority on biblical interpretation:
Yet no one can pretend that certain recent writers really adhere to these limitations. For while conceding that inspiration extends to every phrase — and, indeed, to every single word of Scripture — yet, by endeavoring to distinguish between what they style the primary or religious and the secondary or profane element in the Bible, they claim that the effect of inspiration — namely, absolute truth and immunity from error — are to be restricted to that primary or religious element. Their notion is that only what concerns religion is intended and taught by God in Scripture, and that all the rest — things concerning “profane knowledge,” the garments in which Divine truth is presented — God merely permits, and even leaves to the individual author’s greater or less knowledge. Small wonder, then, that in their view a considerable number of things occur in the Bible touching physical science, history and the like, which cannot be reconciled with modern progress in science!
Some even maintain that these views do not conflict with what our predecessor [Leo XIII] laid down since — so they claim — he said that the sacred writers spoke in accordance with the external — and thus deceptive — appearance of things in nature. But the Pontiff’s own words show that this is a rash and false deduction. For sound philosophy teaches that the senses can never be deceived as regards their own proper and immediate object. Therefore, from the merely external appearance of things — of which, of course, we have always to take account as Leo XIII, following in the footsteps of St. Augustine and St. Thomas, most wisely remarks — we can never conclude that there is any error in Sacred Scripture.
Moreover, our predecessor, sweeping aside all such distinctions between what these critics are pleased to call primary and secondary elements, says in no ambiguous fashion that “those who fancy that when it is a question of the truth of certain expressions we have not got to consider so much what God said as why He said it,” are very far indeed from the truth. He also teaches that Divine inspiration extends to every part of the Bible without the slightest exception, and that no error can occur in the inspired text: “It would be wholly impious to limit inspiration to certain portions only of Scripture or to concede that the sacred authors themselves could have erred.”
Those, too, who hold that the historical portions of Scripture do not rest on the absolute truth of the facts but merely upon what they are pleased to term their relative truth, namely, what people then commonly thought, are — no less than are the aforementioned critics — out of harmony with the Church’s teaching, which is endorsed by the testimony of Jerome and other Fathers. Yet they are not afraid to deduce such views from the words of Leo XIII on the ground that he allowed that the principles he had laid down touching the things of nature could be applied to historical things as well. Hence they maintain that precisely as the sacred writers spoke of physical things according to appearance, so, too, while ignorant of the facts, they narrated them in accordance with general opinion or even on baseless evidence; neither do they tell us the sources whence they derived their knowledge, nor do they make other peoples’ narrative their own. Such views are clearly false, and constitute a calumny on our predecessor. After all, what analogy is there between physics and history? For whereas physics is concerned with “sensible appearances” and must consequently square with phenomena, history on the contrary, must square with the facts, since history is the written account of events as they actually occurred. If we were to accept such views, how could we maintain the truth insisted on throughout Leo XIII’s Encyclical — viz. that the sacred narrative is absolutely free from error?
(Pope Benedict XV, Encyclical Spiritus Paraclitus, nn. 19-22; underlining added.)
Pope Pius XII taught the same thing in his 1943 encyclical on the Bible. As if to rebuke Kellmeyer directly, the Holy Father wrote:
When, subsequently [to the First Vatican Council], some Catholic writers, in spite of this solemn definition of Catholic doctrine, by which such divine authority is claimed for the “entire books with all their parts” as to secure freedom from any error whatsoever, ventured to restrict the truth of Sacred Scripture solely to matters of faith and morals, and to regard other matters, whether in the domain of physical science or history, as “obiter dicta” and — as they contended — in no wise connected with faith, Our Predecessor of immortal memory, Leo XIII in the Encyclical Letter Providentissimus Deus, published on November 18 in the year 1893, justly and rightly condemned these errors and safe-guarded the studies of the Divine Books by most wise precepts and rules.
(Pope Pius XII, Encyclical Divino Afflante Spiritu, n. 1; underlining added.)
A few years later, the same Pius XII returned to this topic in his encyclical against the resurging Modernism of his time, and denounced once more those who “put forward again the opinion, already often condemned, which asserts that immunity from error extends only to those parts of the Bible that treat of God or of moral and religious matters” (Encyclical Humani Generis, n. 22).
Kellmeyer’s error, however, is no accident, for it was the so-called “Second Vatican Council” — the Golden Calf of the Novus Ordo Church — that opened the door to tinkering with the Bible’s complete freedom from error.
Once the Modernists had gained control of the Church’s external structures, they wasted no time in planting seeds of doubt in people’s minds regarding the utter inerrancy of the Holy Bible, and so in 1965 Vatican II promulgated a document on Divine Revelation that includes a statement on the matter that is deliberately ambiguous:
Since, therefore, all that the inspired authors, or sacred writers, affirm should be regarded as affirmed by the Holy Spirit, we must acknowledge that the books of Scripture, firmly, faithfully and without error, teach that truth which God, for the sake of our salvation, wished to see confided to the sacred Scriptures [quam Deus nostrae salutis causa Litteris Sacris consignari voluit].
The phrase “for the sake of our salvation” can be understood in a restrictive sense, that is, in the sense that only that which pertains to our salvation in the Bible is without error. Such an intepretation is possible but not necessary — one can also read it as simply asserting that God’s Revelation in Sacred Scripture is ultimately for our salvation, which would be perfectly orthodox. Yet, given the context, such an explanatory clause helps to obfuscate rather than clarify. By needlessly introducing such ambiguity, the council subtly opened the way for considering Scripture to be less than completely inerrant.
This is not just speculation, it is backed up by history. For example, the Novus Ordo star theologian Fr. Raymond E. Brown (1928-1998) rejected the traditional doctrine regarding Scriptural inerrancy, precisely by appealing to Vatican II’s Dei Verbum. Nonetheless — or rather, therefore — he was appointed to the Pontifical Biblical Commission by Antipopes “Saint” Paul VI in 1972 and “Saint” John Paul II in 1996.
In 2017 we saw the Superior General of the Jesuits, “Fr.” Arturo Sosa, seriously claim that we don’t know the actual Words spoken by Jesus Christ since “no one had a recorder to take down his words”! This is the state of “Catholic theology” roughly 50 years after their abominable robber council.
Kellmeyer’s rejection of complete inerrancy of the Bible is to be expected, therefore. His education is in Novus Ordo theology, not Catholic theology, and so he is merely giving voice to what he has been taught and what virtually everyone in his religion actually believes (at best).
But let’s move on from this topic because Kellmeyer does not make his argument about Judas Iscariot hinge on inerrancy in any way. In fact, he grants that the Scriptural testimony is inerrant regarding Judas, for it is a matter of Faith and morals.
The Question of Judas’ Repentance
Kellmeyer’s next point is that Judas repented of his betrayal of Christ. That much is true: “Then Judas, who betrayed him, seeing that he was condemned, repenting himself, brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and ancients, saying: I have sinned in betraying innocent blood…” (Mt 27:3-4). However, repentance is one thing — supernatural contrition is quite another.
To determine whether Judas had true supernatural repentance, Kellmeyer doesn’t consult authoritative Catholic sources on the matter, he is content to do his own theology. And so he makes an argument that is incredibly shallow because it relies entirely on what original Greek word is used to refer to Judas’ repentance. Because he finds the same word being used in another Scripture passage which (he thinks) speaks of true contrition, our Novus Ordo blogger concludes that Judas must have had genuine repentance unto eternal life.
This is his argument: The original Greek term translated in the above-quoted Douay-Rheims version of Mt 27:3 as “repenting himself”, is metamelētheis. A different inflection of the same word is found in Mt 21:32: “For John came to you in the way of justice, and you did not believe him. But the publicans and the harlots believed him: but you, seeing it, did not even afterwards repent [metemelēthēte], that you might believe him.” With this find, Kellmeyer thinks he’s scored a home run:
God chastises those who did not “metamellomai” [presumably the infinitive of the above Greek terms] after hearing John. (Mat 21:32). But Judas DID metamellomai. So… why is metamellomai sufficient when people listen to John, but not sufficient for Judas? It’s the same word.
If there is some kind of asterick [sic] surrounding “metamelloma”, then why are the tax collectors and prostitutes who do this after hearing John’s message forgiven? Or, conversely, if the “metamelloma” of the prostitutes is sufficient, then why isn’t Judas’ “metamelloma” sufficient?
Kellmeyer could have easily gotten his answer by consulting the traditional Catholic Scripture commentary of Fr. Cornelius a Lapide (1567-1637). Regarding the Mt 27:3-4 passage, in which Judas is said to be “repenting himself”, Fr. Lapide explains:
Not with true and genuine repentance, for this includes the hope of pardon, which Judas had not; but with a forced, torturing, and despairing repentance, the fruit of a bad conscience, like the remorse that tortures the damned in the fire of hell. For that is the meaning of the Greek μεταμεληθεὶς [metamelētheis].
(The Great Commentary of Cornelius à Lapide: The Holy Gospel according to Saint Matthew, Vol. II, trans. by Thomas W. Mossman, rev. and compl. by Michael J. Miller [Fitzwilliam, NH: Loreto Publications, 2008], p. 629. Alternate edition available here.)
Thus we see that a quick check of a magnificent Catholic Bible commentary exposes Kellmeyer’s argumentation for the sophistry that it is: Although the Greek word does mean repentance, it does not imply God’s pardon and restoration to friendship with Him.
We can hear the Fifth Columnist object: “…then why are the tax collectors and prostitutes who do this after hearing John’s message forgiven?” Answer: They’re not. Certainly the sacred text does not say so, and the parable that provides the context for the verse in question is not even about forgiveness of sin but about changing one’s mind: “A certain man had two sons; and coming to the first, he said: Son, go work today in my vineyard. And he answering, said: I will not. But afterwards, being moved with repentance, he went” (Mt 21:28-29).
Changing one’s life for the better is one thing; being forgiven is another. Certainly amendment of life — or at least the firm and sincere intent to do so — is necessary to obtain forgiveness, but it is not sufficient. One must also have Faith and hope and proper contrition for one’s sins, and this contrition must have the following qualities: It must be interior, supernatural, universal, and sovereign, as explained in the Catholic Encyclopedia here. In the event this contrition is perfect, even mortal sin is forgiven immediately; if it is imperfect, the valid absolution of a priest is needed to be forgiven. (Perfect contrition, by definition, includes the sincere intention of confessing one’s sins to a priest.)
Therefore, Kellmeyer’s idea that Judas’ metamelētheis in Mt 27:3 and the metemelēthēte of the publicans and harlots in Mt 21:32 must both be equally salvific, rests on the false assumption that the latter was salvific in the first place. It wasn’t — our Novus Ordo blogger is simply wrong. But the real question is why anyone would bother to listen to his interpretation of the Bible — even digging into the original Greek — when he cannot even spell the English word asterisk (Kellmeyer misspelled it twice)!
That is not to say that the repentance of the publicans and harlots was insincere or useless, by the way; only that it was not sufficient to obtain the forgiveness of sins. It was, however, proper and necessary as a preparation for the forgiveness of sins. Therefore our Blessed Lord said: “Amen I say to you, that the publicans and the harlots shall go into the kingdom of God before you” (Mt 21:31) — because they were much better disposed for receiving forgiveness than the hardened scribes and Pharisees who thought they had no sin of which to be forgiven. This becomes more apparent when we look at the Mgr. Ronald Knox translation of the same verse, which renders the Words of our Lord thus: “Believe me, the publicans and the harlots are further on the road to God’s kingdom than you.”
Now, some might say that the repentance referred to in Mt 21:32 must have been salvific because it was tied to the baptism of St. John the Baptist, of whom we are told that he “was in the desert baptizing, and preaching the baptism of penance, unto remission of sins” (Mk 1:4). However, this would be to misunderstand the nature of the Johannine baptism, which was only a carnal, a bodily, washing that was meant to induce people to contrition and prepare them for the true and efficacious baptism of Christ. Of itself, it was powerless to forgive sins.
Fr. Lapide explains that St. John was “urging men to repent so as to be well disposed” for forgiveness, elaborating as follows:
This remission was to be received from Christ and His baptism, which was the perfection and consummation of John’s baptism. For Christ, being the king of heaven, preached that the kingdom must be received by His grace, of which the first part is remission of sins, which is afforded by the baptism of Christ, inasmuch as it is furnished and, as it were, animated by the spirit and grace of Christ, according to those words of John, I indeed baptize you in water unto penance, but he that shall come after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear; he shall baptize you in the Holy Ghost and fire [Mt 3:11]….
Regarding the quoted verse of Mt 3:11, Fr. Lapide says likewise: “The baptism of John … was a profession of repentance. Hence those who were about to be baptized by him confessed their sins, not that there was thereby a remission of guilt; for this they had to look to Christ, through His baptism and true contrition” (The Great Commentary of Cornelius à Lapide: The Holy Gospel according to Saint Matthew, Vol. I [Fitzwilliam, NH: Loreto Publications, 2008], pp. 121-122. Alternate edition available here).
Thus it is clear that the baptism of John did not obtain forgiveness of sins; it merely prepared people to have the proper dispositions for the baptism of Christ. For that reason, those who had only received the baptism of John still had to be baptized with the sacrament instituted by our Divine Lord: “And he said: In what then were you baptized? Who said: In John’s baptism. Then Paul said: John baptized the people with the baptism of penance, saying: That they should believe in him who was to come after him, that is to say, in Jesus. Having heard these things, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 19:3-5).
Thus it is no wonder that the Council of Trent declared under pain of heresy: “If anyone shall say that the baptism of John had the same force as the baptism of Christ: let him be anathema” (Denz. 857).
Returning now to the fate of Judas, we can see that although he regretted his terrible sin of betrayal — he even “brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and ancients” (Mt 27:3) –, he did not cooperate with God’s grace and seek forgiveness from Christ. Instead, “…casting down the pieces of silver in the temple, he departed: and went and hanged himself with an halter” (Mt 27:5). Thus Judas despaired of God’s mercy and died in his sins.
Do we know this for certain? Yes, we do, for Scripture is not silent about it:
And the Son of man indeed goeth, as it is written of him: but woe to that man by whom the Son of man shall be betrayed. It were better for him, if that man had not been born. (Mk 14:21)
While I was with them, I kept them in thy name. Those whom thou gavest me have I kept; and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition, that the scripture may be fulfilled. (Jn 17:12)
And praying, they said: Thou, Lord, who knowest the hearts of all men, shew whether of these two thou hast chosen, to take the place of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas hath by transgression fallen, that he might go to his own place. (Acts 1:24-25)
Interestingly enough, Kellmeyer does not mention any of these three passages at all. Is he ignorant of them, or does he not mention them because they definitively refute his thesis?
So our Blessed Lord declares that it were better for Judas if he had never been born; but such a statement is only true if Judas is forever barred from reaching eternal salvation, that is, if he is in hell. Further, our Lord’s affirmation that none of His are lost except the “son of perdition”, is so clear as to require no further explanation. And finally, Judas’ “own place” is hardly that of Heaven.
Alas, these three inconvenient Scripture passages are not the only evidence Kellmeyer is silent on. As we will now see, he is also silent on the testimony of Sacred Tradition.
Kellmeyer ignores Sacred Tradition
Not content with ignoring parts of the New Testament, Kellmeyer ignores all of Divine Tradition — as if Tradition were not, like Scripture, a primary source of supernatural revelation:
The sacred and holy ecumenical and general Synod of Trent, lawfully assembled in the Holy Spirit, with the same three Legates of the Apostolic See presiding over it, keeping this constantly in view, that with the abolishing of errors, the purity itself of the Gospel is preserved in the Church, which promised before through the Prophets in the Holy Scriptures our Lord Jesus Christ the Son of God first promulgated with His own mouth, and then commanded “to be preached” by His apostles “to every creature” as the source of every saving truth and of instruction in morals [Matt. 28:19ff., Mark 16:15], and [the Synod] clearly perceiving that this truth and instruction are contained in the written books and in the unwritten traditions, which have been received by the apostles from the mouth of Christ Himself, or from the apostles themselves, at the dictation of the Holy Spirit, have come down even to us, transmitted as it were from hand to hand, [the Synod] following the examples of the orthodox Fathers, receives and holds in veneration with an equal affection of piety and reverence all the books both of the Old and of the New Testament, since one God is the author or both, and also the traditions themselves, those that appertain both to faith and to morals, as having been dictated either by Christ’s own word of mouth, or by the Holy Spirit, and preserved in the Catholic Church by a continuous succession. And so that no doubt may arise in anyone’s mind as to which are the books that are accepted by this Synod, it has decreed that a list of the Sacred books be added to this decree.
(Council of Trent, Session IV; Denz. 783; underlining added.)
Thus Pope Gregory XVI speaks of “the word of God, both as it exists in writing and in tradition” (Encyclical Inter Praecipuas, n. 3). In this he merely echoes St. Paul, of course, who told the Thessalonians to “stand fast; and hold the traditions which you have learned, whether by word, or by our epistle” (2 Thess 2:14). Our Blessed Lord Himself had promised the assistance of the Holy Ghost in that regard: “But the Paraclete, the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring all things to your mind, whatsoever I shall have said to you” (Jn 14:26).
The Vatican Council in 1870 confirmed all of this when it taught:
Furthermore, this supernatural revelation, according to the faith of the universal Church, as declared by the holy synod of Trent, is contained “in the written books and in the unwritten traditions which have been received by the apostles from the mouth of Christ Himself; or, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit have been handed down by the apostles themselves, and have thus come to us” [Council of Trent; see Denz. 783].
(Vatican I, Dogmatic Constitution Dei Filius, Chapter 3; Denz. 1787)
What are the vehicles through which Sacred Tradition is communicated? The Dictionary of Dogmatic Theology clarifies:
The principal instruments by means of which divine Tradition has been conserved are the professions of faith, the sacred liturgy, the writings of the Fathers, the practice of the Church, the acts of the martyrs, and archeological monuments. Its organ is the living magisterium of the Church (the Roman pontiff and the bishops united with and subordinate to him).
(Pietro Parente et al., eds., Dictionary of Dogmatic Theology [Milwaukee, MN: Bruce Publishing, 1951], s.v. “Tradition”; italics given; underlining added. Full disclosure: Novus Ordo Watch benefits from purchases made through Amazon.)
Of course the above quote makes absolutely no sense when applied to the Novus Ordo Sect, which is one more reason why it cannot be the Catholic Church, but that’s not our topic now. Rather, we simply note that two of the Church’s instruments for the transmission of Sacred Tradition are the Sacred Liturgy and the Fathers of the Church.
Kellmeyer has nothing to say about the Sacred Liturgy and wipes all the Fathers and Doctors of the Church away on the specious grounds that they “are often unclear on points of doctrine or get specific doctrinal points wrong, despite their sanctity. The Church exists to correct those errors and steer us on the clear path.”
It is true, of course, that not every single doctrinal point affirmed by every single Saint, Doctor, or Father of the Church is necessarily correct; however, the collective witness of the Church Fathers, especially as regards the correct interpretation of Scripture, is of the utmost importance in understanding the Deposit of Faith:
…[T]he Catholic exegete will find invaluable help in an assiduous study of those works, in which the Holy Fathers, the Doctors of the Church and the renowned interpreters of past ages have explained the Sacred Books. For, although sometimes less instructed in profane learning and in the knowledge of languages than the scripture scholars of our time, nevertheless by reason of the office assigned to them by God in the Church, they are distinguished by a certain subtle insight into heavenly things and by a marvelous keenness of intellect, which enables them to penetrate to the very innermost meaning of the divine word and bring to light all that can help to elucidate the teaching of Christ and to promote holiness of life.
(Pope Pius XII, Encyclical Divino Afflante Spiritu, n. 28)
One clear example of a Church Father teaching the eternal condemnation of Judas is Pope St. Leo I, who explains in one of his sermons on the Passion of Christ:
To this forgiveness [of Christ] the traitor Judas could not attain: for he, the son of perdition, at whose right the devil stood, gave himself up to despair before Christ accomplished the mystery of universal redemption. For in that the Lord died for sinners, perchance even he might have found salvation if he had not hastened to hang himself. … But the wicked traitor refused to understand this, and took measures against himself, not in the self-condemnation of repentance, but in the madness of perdition, and thus he who had sold the Author of life to His murderers, even in dying increased the amount of sin which condemned him.
(Pope St. Leo the Great, Sermon 62, Chapter IV; underlining added.)
Apparently, the above papal sermon is not good enough for Steve Kellmeyer. He prefers his own Fifth Column blog.
Next, let us have a look at how the Iscariot appears in the Church’s Roman liturgy, specifically on Maundy Thursday, the night Judas betrayed his Master:
O God, from whom Judas received the punishment of his guilt, and the thief the reward of his confession: grant us the effect of thy clemency: that as our Lord Jesus Christ in his passion gave to each a different retribution according to his merits: so he may destroy the old man in us, and give us the grace of his resurrection. Who liveth and reigneth [with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen.]
(Collect for Holy Thursday in the Roman Missal; in The Holy Week Book [London: Burns Oates & Washbourne Ltd, 1913], p. 149; underlining added.)
There is no doubt, then, that Sacred Tradition confirms the evident testimony from Scripture: Judas is eternally damned.
Kellmeyer spends a good amount of time arguing about the significance of the name given to the potter’s field which was purchased with Judas’ repudiated 30 pieces of silver, namely, “Haceldama, that is to say, The field of blood” (Acts 1:19; cf. Mt 27:7-8). He maintains that this name does not prove Judas’ damnation. While that may be so, the matter is really irrelevant, or peripheral at best, hence we will skip over it here.
Wrong, Wrong, and Wrong Again
To conclude, we can say that Steve Kellmeyer is really guilty of three offenses: First, he uses private interpretation on select Scripture verses (cf. 2 Pet 3:16); second, he ignores crucial Scripture verses that contradict his thesis; and third, he dismisses all of Sacred Tradition.
And then he has the gall to affirm: “The Church’s Magisterial authority does not clearly state Judas is definitely in hell.”
Really? In addition to the evidence already cited from Scripture and Tradition, another place in which we see Judas’ eternal damnation mentioned explicitly is the Roman Catechism, also called the Catechism of the Council of Trent. Although perhaps not strictly speaking a magisterial document, it is nevertheless the official catechism of the Universal Church, promulgated by Pope St. Pius V and compiled under the direction of St. Charles Borromeo. It is an authoritative statement of the traditional teaching of the Church:
Some are attracted to the priesthood by ambition and love of honours; while there are others who desire to be ordained simply in order that they may abound in riches, as is proved by the fact that unless some wealthy benefice were conferred on them, they would not dream of receiving Holy Orders. It is such as these that our Saviour describes as hirelings, who, in the words of Ezechiel, feed themselves and not the sheep, and whose baseness and dishonesty have not only brought great disgrace on the ecclesiastical state, so much so that hardly anything is now more vile and contemptible in the eyes of the faithful, but also end in this, that they derive no other fruit from their priesthood than was derived by Judas from the Apostleship, which only brought him everlasting destruction.
(Catechism of the Council of Trent, “The Sacraments: Holy Orders”; underlining added.)
Lastly, Pope Pius XI mentions in one of his encyclical letters that “Judas, an Apostle of Christ, ‘one of the twelve,’ as the Evangelists sadly observe, was led down to the abyss of iniquity precisely through the spirit of greed for earthly things” (Encyclical Ad Catholici Sacredotii, n. 49).
Against all of this overwhelming evidence that Judas is in hell, Steve Kellmeyer presents only his own theological sophistry under the label of The Fifth Column.
With an “asterick”, no less.
Image source: Shutterstock (jorisvo)