Blasphemy and heresy from preacher of ‘papal’ household…

‘Cardinal’ Cantalamessa: Even if Christ Really Said What John’s Gospel Claims He Said, That Doesn’t Mean It’s True!

Ordained a priest in 1958, the Franciscan Capuchin ‘Cardinal’ Raniero Cantalamessa (b. 1934) has been the Novus Ordo Vatican’s ‘Preacher of the Papal Household’ since 1980. Every year the Italian preacher is tasked with giving sermons to the ‘Pope’ and the Roman Curia during Lent and Advent, usually on Fridays, and the current year is no different.

A news report released by Catholic Culture‘s ‘Catholic World News’ summarizes Cantalamessa’s latest Lenten sermon series as follows:

The overarching theme of Cardinal Cantalamessa’s 2024 Lenten sermons was “But who do you say that I am?” (Matthew 16:15). In each Friday sermon, the prelate preached on a different “I am” statement made by Christ. His first sermon was devoted to “I am the bread of life”; his second, to “I am the light of the world”; his third, to “I am the Good Shepherd”; his fourth, to “I am the bread of life” [sic — actually it was “I am the Resurrection and the Life” –NOW].

(“Papal preacher concludes Lenten sermons on Christ’s ‘I am’ statements—after questioning whether Jesus said them”, Catholic Culture, Mar. 25, 2024)

His fifth and final sermon, delivered March 22, was on Christ’s proclamation, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life”. However, it is his second sermon, the one delivered on March 1 on “I am the Light of the World”, that will be of interest to us in the present post.

Right at the very beginning, Fr. Raniero drops a bombshell (the text in English is found on Cantalamessa’s own official web site):

In these Lenten sermons, we have proposed to meditate on the great “I Am” (Ego eimi) pronounced by Jesus in the Gospel of John. However, there is a question that arises regarding them: were they really pronounced by Jesus, or are they due to the later reflection of the Evangelist, like many parts of the Fourth Gospel? The answer that practically all exegetes today would give to this question is the second one. I am convinced, however, that these statements are “of Jesus” and I will try to explain why.

There is a historical truth and a truth that we can call real, or ontological. Let us take Jesus’ affirmation: “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (Jn 14:6). If, due to some unlikely new discovery, we would come to know that the sentence was in fact historically pronounced by the earthly Jesus, this would not prove it is true (the person who pronounced it could be deceiving himself!). What makes it “true” is that—in reality and beyond any historical contingency—he is the way, the truth, and the life.

In this deeper and more important sense, each and every statement that Jesus utters in John’s Gospel is true, including his solemn declaration: “Before Abraham came to be, I AM” (Jn 8:58). The classic definition of truth is “perfect correspondence between a thing and the idea of it” (adaequatio rei et intellectus); revealed truth is a perfect correspondence between a reality and the revealed word that expresses it. The great words that we will meditate on are therefore of Jesus: not of the historical Jesus, but of Jesus who, as he promised to the disciples (Jn 16:12-15), speaks to us with the authority of the Risen One, through his Spirit.

(Rev. Raniero Cantalamessa, “I am the Light of the World – Second Sermon of Lent 2024”, Cantalamessa, Mar. 1, 2024; underlining and italics added.)

These lines — especially the underlined portions — are an outrage beyond words!

(Further on in his sermon, the Neo-Modernist preacher criticizes the objective-scientific character of Sacred Theology in favor of a subjective idea of theology as conversation with God, but that shall not concern us here.)

Let us spell out clearly what Fr. Raniero has brazenly asserted or insinuated, as well as some of its implications:

  • ASSERTION: The mere fact that a Gospel author quotes Our Lord Jesus Christ does not necessarily mean that Christ actually spoke those words — they might just be the evangelist’s “reflections” subsequently attributed to Christ
    • IMPLICATION: Sacred Scripture contains errors and is therefore unreliable; it is not the divinely-inspired Word of God; we cannot know what Christ really said; all of Christ’s recorded words in the Gospels can be doubted
  • ASSERTION: It is his personal conviction that the quoted words of Our Lord are “of Jesus” but not in the historical sense of having been uttered by Him
    • IMPLICATION: The floodgates to a reinterpretation of Our Lord’s words and the entire Gospel have been opened; anything is possible now
  • ASSERTION: What Christ is quoted as having said is true but not because Christ said it (if He did say it)
    • IMPLICATION: Christ’s words are not necessarily true either because Christ is not God or because God cannot be relied upon to tell us the truth; we cannot determine what is true based on words spoken by Christ but must instead judge if the words of Christ are true by some other standard
  • ASSERTION: Christ could have deceived Himself, He could have been mistaken
    • IMPLICATION: Christ is not God, or God is lacking in some perfection
  • ASSERTION: There is a “historical”, “earthly” Jesus, to be distinguished from a “Jesus who … speaks to us with the authority of the Risen One, through his Spirit”
    • IMPLICATION: The pre-Resurrection Christ was imperfect and not divine; the post-Resurrection Christ is not a historical reality

The heresies and blasphemies contained in Cantalamessa’s words are frightful and sickening!

Curiously, the Italian original text of the Capuchin’s reflection contains an additional sentence that was omitted from the English translation. Following immediately after “…the person who pronounced it could be deceiving himself!”, the omitted sentence reads: “So many believed they were the light of the world before and after him!” (Tanti hanno creduto di essere la luce del mondo prima e dopo di lui!). This deleted sentence was part of the spoken words Cantalamessa actually delivered, and this can be verified at the 4:30 mark in the recording here. There is, then, no justification for excluding it from the English translation, and it may simply have been an oversight.

In any case, the omitted portion just adds more fuel to the blasphemous fire by doubling down on the implied accusation that our Blessed Lord was subject to deception and falsehood and therefore not truly or fully God. It makes it seem as if Jesus of Nazareth was just another crazy fellow going around making wild claims, though in His case the words uttered happened to coincide with reality, that is, they happened to be true, and that’s what counts.

We will now proceed to critique Cantalamessa’s shameful errors.

Sacred Scripture: Divinely Inspired, Absolutely Inerrant

The absolute inerrancy of Sacred Scripture follows from its divine inspiration. Catholic doctrine leaves no doubt as to what must be believed by Catholics about this, namely, “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” (Pope Clement VI, Letter Super Quibusdam; Denz. 570r).

In fact, both the complete inspiration as well as the complete inerrancy of the Bible are taught dogmatically by the Church. To deny either is to commit heresy:

If anyone shall not accept the entire books of Sacred Scripture with all their divisions, just as the sacred Synod of Trent has enumerated them, as canonical and sacred, or denies that they have been inspired by God: let him be anathema.

(First Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution Dei Filius, Chapter 2, Canon 4; Denz. 1809)

Further, by divine and Catholic faith, all those things must be believed which are contained in the written word of God and in tradition, and those which are proposed by the Church, either in a solemn pronouncement or in her ordinary and universal teaching power, to be believed as divinely revealed.

(First Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution Dei Filius, Chapter 3; Denz. 1792)

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. … Hence, because the Holy Ghost employed men as His instruments, we cannot therefore say that it was these inspired instruments who, perchance, have fallen into error, and not the primary author. For, by supernatural power, He so moved and impelled them to write — He was so present to them — that the things which He ordered, and those only, they, first, rightly understood, then willed faithfully to write down, and finally expressed in apt words and with infallible truth. Otherwise, it could not be said that He was the Author of the entire Scripture. Such has always been the persuasion of the Fathers.

(Pope Leo XIII, Encyclical Providentissimus Deus, n. 20; underlining added.)

[CONDEMNED:] Divine inspiration does not extend to all of Sacred Scriptures so that it renders its parts, each and every one, free from every error.

(Pope St. Pius X, Decree Lamentabili Sane, error n. 11)

Whether, bearing in mind the genuine notion of the apostolic gift, and the undoubted fidelity of St. Paul with regard to the doctrine of the Master, likewise the Catholic dogma on the inspiration and inerrancy of the Holy Scriptures, according to which all that the sacred writer asserts, declares, and introduces ought to be maintained as asserted, declared, and introduced by the Holy Spirit; weighing also the texts of the epistles of the Apostle considered in themselves, especially in harmony with the method of speaking of the Lord himself, one should affirm that the Apostle Paul in his writings said nothing at all which does not agree perfectly with that ignorance of parousia of the time, which Christ Himself proclaimed to belong to man? — Reply: In the affirmative.

(Pontifical Biblical Commission, June 18, 1915; Denz. 2180; underlining and bold print added.)

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, [certain recent writers] 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!

…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 [Leo XIII] … 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….

(Pope Benedict XV, Encyclical Spiritus Paraclitus, nn. 19-21; underlining added.)

When, subsequently, 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” [Vatican I] 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” [=things mentioned in passing] 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)

For some go so far as to pervert the sense of the Vatican Council’s definition that God is the author of Holy Scripture, and they 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. They even wrongly speak of a human sense of the Scriptures, beneath which a divine sense, which they say is the only infallible meaning, lies hidden. In interpreting Scripture, they will take no account of the analogy of faith and the Tradition of the Church. Thus they judge the doctrine of the Fathers and of the Teaching Church by the norm of Holy Scripture, interpreted by the purely human reason of exegetes, instead of explaining Holy Scripture according to the mind of the Church which Christ Our Lord has appointed guardian and interpreter of the whole deposit of divinely revealed truth.

(Pope Pius XII, Encyclical Humani Generis, n.22)

Thus it is clear that no one is permitted to assert anything about Scripture that would imply either that God is not its principal author or that anything asserted by the sacred writer as true is in fact uncertain or false.

The Quoted Words of Christ: Their Authenticity and Truth

From the foregoing we can and must conclude that when an evangelist attributes to our Blessed Lord a direct quote, it is infallibly certain that Jesus Christ did in fact speak those very words, albeit in the original language (mostly Aramaic).

To assert anything else is, beyond heresy and blasphemy, also complete folly. How can the Bible be the Word of God in any meaningful sense if it is even doubted whether the very words of God are in fact the words of God? For “sayings that are recounted as spoken directly by God or by Christ the Lord (even according to his human nature) … are the word of God in the most proper sense…” (Fr. Michaele Nicolau, On Holy Scripture, n. 123; in Sacrae Theologiae Summa, vol. I-B, p. 624; italics removed).

If the Capuchin preacher were correct in his doubt regarding the sacred words of Christ — if we could not rely on the scriptural testimony regarding the words uttered by Our Lord, nor on the truthfulness of the words spoken by Christ — what would become of the following biblical testimony?

Who answered and said: It is written, Not in bread alone doth man live, but in every word that proceedeth from the mouth of God. (Mt 4:4)

And all gave testimony to him: and they wondered at the words of grace that proceeded from his mouth, and they said: Is not this the son of Joseph? (Lk 4:22)

Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away. (Lk 21:33)

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (Jn 1:1)

God, who, at sundry times and in divers manners, spoke in times past to the fathers by the prophets, last of all, in these days hath spoken to us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the world. (Heb 1:1-2)

Furthermore, what would happen to the Seven Last Words our Blessed Lord spoke during His agony on the Cross?

If God’s own direct words cannot be relied upon as being truthful, why should we believe anyone or anything else? Why believe the words of some 89-year-old Italian preacher then? Cantalamessa’s thesis makes a mockery of Divine Revelation altogether!

Fr. Raniero claims to believe that our Blessed Lord is truly the Way, the Truth, and the Life. At the same time, he also holds that (a) we don’t know if Christ actually spoke these words in John 14:6; but even if He did, (b) that does not mean they are true. On what grounds, then, does Cantalamessa claim to know that it is nevertheless true that Christ is in fact the Way, the Truth, and the Life? He does not tell us!

If we cannot trust divine inspiration to communicate to us what Christ really said when He walked the earth, why should we be able to trust anything else asserted in the biblical text?

So it turns out that the man who has dedicated his entire ministry to “preaching the Word” does not even believe in the Word! Is anyone really shocked, though? After all, this is the same Fr. Cantalamessa who once proclaimed during a Good Friday homily in the very presence of ‘Pope’ John Paul II that false religions “are not merely tolerated by God but positively willed by Him as an expression of the inexhaustible richness of His grace and His will for everyone to be saved” (Sermon of March 29, 2002). It is obvious that such a man does not know Jesus Christ or His Gospel; or if he does, it is both he rejects!

Cantalamessa’s blasphemies and heresies about Christ and Holy Scripture are not unique to him, however. In fact, they are probably fairly common among clergy educated in the institutions of the Vatican II Church. Recall the case of ‘Fr.’ Arturo Sosa Abascal, the current Superior General of the Jesuits, who argued a few years ago that we don’t know “what Jesus really said” since back in those days, “no one had a recorder to take down his words” — bummer!

The context in which Sosa made this argument was — get your surprise face ready — our Lord’s condemnation of adultery! One may suspect that had the teaching in question been that on the importance of the works of mercy in Matthew 25 (“For I was hungry, and you gave me not to eat…”), Sosa probably wouldn’t have quipped that we don’t know if Christ actually said that… eh?

With these Neo-Modernists, it always comes down to one thing: Regardless of how much they may hide or disguise it, at the end of the day they simply do not believe in Catholicism.

Diminished and Divided: The False Christ of Fr. Cantalamessa

Alas, ‘Cardinal’ Cantalamessa is not content merely to deny dogma; he must attack the very Person of our Blessed Lord directly!

His blasphemous assertion that Christ’s quoted words, if (!) our Lord actually said them, do not by that very fact correspond to the truth, not only contradicts Cantalamessa’s claim to believe that Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, it also implies that Jesus might have deceived His hearers or else might be deceived Himself. This, in turn, implies either that Christ is not God, or else that God is not all-good or not all-knowing.

All of these things are directly contrary to what Catholics profess in the Act of Faith:

O my God, I firmly believe that Thou art one God in three divine persons, Father, Son and Holy Ghost; I believe that Thy divine Son became man and died for our sins, and that He shall come to judge the living and the dead. I believe these and all the truths which the holy Catholic Church teaches, because Thou hast revealed them, Who canst neither deceive nor be deceived. Amen.

(Actus Fidei; underlining added)

With his blasphemous and heretical words the ‘papal’ preacher has thus attacked some of the most fundamental truths of the Faith!

When Cantalamessa says that just because Christ asserted something, that alone does not make the assertion true, he mirrors the unbelieving Jews who accused Our Lord of not speaking the truth:

The Pharisees therefore said to him: Thou givest testimony of thyself: thy testimony is not true. Jesus answered, and said to them: Although I give testimony of myself, my testimony is true: for I know whence I came, and whither I go: but you know not whence I come, or whither I go.

(John 8:13-14)

It should be evident that Christ, being God, could not be ignorant of anything, nor could He deceive Himself, as Cantalamessa so impiously asserts:

From what has been said it is clear how much more Catholic sensitivity shrinks from admitting in Christ any errors, when it refused to admit any ignorance. …

Much more generally theologians affirm also the absolute impossibility of error in Christ. It seems that this must be held both because it belongs to the prudent providence of a rational person not to admit falsity and deception in his own nature, when he can easily avoid it, and because in error there cannot be a reason for any true good, and finally because otherwise the authority of the person of the Word speaking through his human nature, if he were capable of error, would be greatly diminished.

(Fr. Iesu Solano, On the Incarnate Word, n. 360; in Sacrae Theologiae Summa, vol. III-A, pp. 164-165; some italics removed).

Indeed, Cantalamessa has greatly diminished the Person of Jesus Christ and His infallible authority!

Well did St. John warn us: “And every spirit that dissolveth Jesus, is not of God: and this is Antichrist, of whom you have heard that he cometh, and he is now already in the world” (1 Jn 4:3).

That Fr. Cantalamessa should posit a difference between “the historical Jesus” and the “Jesus who … speaks to us with the authority of the Risen One, through his Spirit”, is not surprising. Although his wording here is deliberately obscure, it does not take much to see in the Capuchin’s words “that distinction, so current among the Modernists, between the Christ of history and the Christ of faith…” (Pope St. Pius X, Encyclical Pascendi, n. 30).

Saint John’s Gospel, according to the innovators, is not a genuinely historical account, thus the Words of Our Lord that appear in it are not taken as having been uttered by Him. In his Syllabus of Modernist Errors, Pope St. Pius X condemned that idea as Modernist:

[CONDEMNED:] The narrations of John are not properly history, but a mystical contemplation of the Gospel. The discourses contained in his Gospel are theological meditations, lacking historical truth concerning the mystery of salvation.

(Pope St. Pius X, Decree Lamentabili Sane, error n. 16)

Saint Pius X’s Syllabus was promulgated on July 3, 1907. Earlier that same year, the Pontifical Biblical Commission had similarly given a negative response to the question whether it would be permissible to maintain that the quotations of our Divine Savior in the Gospel according to St. John were not in fact uttered by Christ:

Question III: Whether, not withstanding the practice which flourished constantly in the whole Church from the earliest times, of arguing from the fourth Gospel as from a truly historical document, in consideration, nevertheless, of the peculiar nature of the same Gospel, and of the manifest intention of the author to illustrate and to prove the divinity of Christ from the very deeds and words of the Lord, it can be said that the deeds related in the fourth Gospel are totally or partially so invented that they are allegories or doctrinal symbols; but that the words of the Lord are not properly and truly the words of the Lord himself, but theological compositions of the writer, although placed in the mouth of the Lord? — Answer: In the negative.

(Pontifical Biblical Commission, May 29, 1907; Denz. 2112; underlining and bold print added.)

Noticing that the decisions of the Biblical Commission were not receiving sufficient adherence, Pope Pius X released a Motu Proprio on Nov. 18, 1907,  to reinforce the authority of the commission and the binding nature of its decisions:

After mature examination and the most diligent deliberations the Pontifical Biblical Commission has happily given certain decisions of a very useful kind for the proper promotion and direction on safe lines of Biblical studies. But we observe that some persons, unduly prone to opinions and methods tainted by pernicious novelties and excessively devoted to the principle of false liberty, which is really immoderate license and in sacred studies proves itself to be a most insidious and a fruitful source of the worst evils against the purity of the faith, have not received and do not receive these decisions with the proper obedience.

Wherefore we find it necessary to declare and to expressly prescribe, and by this our act we do declare and decree that all are bound in conscience to submit to the decisions of the Biblical Commission relating to doctrine, which have been given in the past and which shall be given in the future, in the same way as to the decrees of the Roman congregations approved by the Pontiff; nor can all those escape the note of disobedience or temerity, and consequently of grave sin, who in speech or writing contradict such decisions, and this besides the scandal they give and the other reasons for which they may be responsible before God for other temerities and errors which generally go with such contradictions.

(Pope Pius X, Apostolic Letter Motu Proprio Praestantia Scripturae; underlining added.)

So it turns out that the great preacher of the ‘papal’ household, Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, O.F.M. Cap., is just another Modernist.

No wonder ‘Pope’ Francis made him a cardinal.

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