Can one and the same person (for example, Judas Iscariot) be both an Apostle of Jesus Christ and a devil?
In Saint Paul it is divinely revealed that the Apostles are "ministers of God and dispensers of the Mysteries of God (II Cor 5:20 [translators note: I Cor 4:1]) while all throughout Sacred Scripture (Gen 3:1, Rev 12:9 and 20:2) the devil is the Angel who turned against God and therefore fell down to Hell. 1 How can these two concepts be reconciled? Let us seek an answer by resorting to divine Revelation, i.e. Scripture and Tradition as interpreted by the Magisterium of the Church.
In the Gospel of Saint John we read:
Jesus answered them: Have not I chosen you twelve? And one of you is a devil. Now he meant Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon: for this same was about to betray him, whereas he was one of the twelve. (John 6:71-72)
Therefore, his "seat" as Apostle was not vacant.
Father Ferdinando Prat writes:
After the disobedience of Adam and Eve in garden of Eden and the revolt of the Angels in Heaven, there is perhaps no more terrible sight than the presence of a traitor in the Apostolic College, in such closeness to Jesus. Yet Judas did not have a different nature from ours. To say that he was a demon incarnate are strong words that explain nothing. Judas was, like the rest of us, capable of good and evil, so much so that Jesus in choosing the twelve had seen in him the fabric of an Apostle. And if history remembers him as an odious person, it is only because he became so through his own fault. 2
St. Thomas Aquinas' Commentary
The Common Doctor of the Church comments:
Devil not by nature, but by the imitation of diabolical malice. 3
Yes, Judas was by nature a man and not a devil, but, by imitating the wickedness of the devil in hating and betraying Jesus to death, he was similar to the devil in the way he acted. Then the Angelic Doctor raises an objection:
If Christ chose Judas who turned bad, it seems that He made the wrong choice. 4.
St. Thomas Aquinas responds to this objection in the following way:
This is about the election to an office [apostolic, ed]. Now from this election neither freedom nor the possibility of sin is taken away [from the chosen subject, ed]".5
In this case, therefore, Jesus would have chosen Judas "when he had not yet become bad", but His choice did not take away his freedom to sin.6
The Opinion of St. Augustine of Hippo
However, St. Thomas Aquinas also gives a second answer, quoting the opinion of St. Augustine7:
The Lord chose Judas despite the evil which He turned into a source of Good: to use the evil to obtain a good end, notwithstanding knowing it to be evil. Now God was served well by Judas, in the sense that He tolerated being betrayed by him in order to redeem humanity.8
If we read the Commentary of St. Augustine on the above passage of the Gospel of St. John in full, we see that he explains how not only God used Judas, drawing good from evil, that is, the Redemption of humanity from a betrayal, but also how:
Many Martyrs were persecuted by the devil. Now if Satan had not persecuted them, today we would not celebrate their glorious Martyrdom. Therefore, he who does evil does harm to himself and does not affect Divine goodness, since God turns to good the same evil works of the devil.9
Therefore it is demonstrated that one can be an Apostle and a devil in one's way of acting.
Who are the Apostles of the New Testament?
If one studies - from the point of view of dogmatic theology - what an Apostle is and what his prerogatives are, one is amazed at what has been said. In fact the New Testament meaning of the word Apostle is "one who is 'sent' by Christ to preach the Gospel."10 The Twelve Apostles were chosen by Jesus11 (Matthew 10:5, 20:17; Mark, 6:7) to continue His mission, that is, to spread the Gospel and the Church throughout the world. In fact Christ founded the Church in order to continue His redeeming work until the end of the world.12 The Apostles were sent ("missi") by Christ as He Himself was sent ("missus") by God the Father. (John 17:18, 20:21) The mission of the Apostles is to bear witness to Christ, telling others what they have seen and heard from Him and professing their faith in Him, if necessary to the point of the shedding of their blood. The Apostles received this missionary commission from Jesus in order to continue [this mission]. Jesus Himself is called an "Apostle" or "one sent" by the Father. (Hebrews 3:1) Now Jesus was sent by the Father to teach the Truth (Magisterium), to lead souls to Heaven (Jurisdiction) and to sanctify them (Priesthood). Therefore, what counts most in the Apostle is not so much his own person as the Person who sent him (God the Father) and the Person he represents, that is Christ, even if personally the Apostle in himself is "a devil" on account of his evil ways.
The Apostles and their successors (Bishops/Pope) are sent by Christ to continue His mission.13 The twelve were instructed and formed by Jesus personally, and they were to instruct and train those they in turn would send to continue their mission (Bishops/Popes) and to perpetuate the Church until the end of the world.
The Church has four notes, the last of which is Apostolicity14, in the sense that it began with Christ and the Twelve Apostles (Apostolic Origin) and also because it must have an uninterrupted succession of Apostles (Bishops/Popes) until the end of the world (Apostolic Succession). Thus, thanks to Apostolicity, the uninterrupted existence of the militant Church until the end of the world is safeguarded.
The Nature of the Sin of Judas
Judas' betrayal was also inspired by the fact that he was a thief (John 7:6), but not just that. In fact, when Judas understood that Jesus presented Himself as a spiritual Messiah who came for the salvation of all souls of all peoples through His suffering and death, in clear opposition to his own ambitious hopes (drawn from Apocalyptic and Jewish Messianism15) for a militant Messiah, glorious and triumphant for himself and for the Jews without any regard for the Gojims and as a bearer of all material prosperity for Israel alone, he [Judas] conceived in his heart a profound disappointment mixed with a great aversion for the suffering Messiah, and so the idea of betrayal entered into his heart. We can see that the main reason for Judas' sin was his false faith in a triumphant Messiah and his lack of faith in a suffering Messiah. These are not just private vices that almost always accompany a twisted faith, no, the crux of Judas' revolt was a lack of faith, a twisted faith, in short the "Jewish perfidy".16
Professor Fedele Pasquero writes:
The crisis of Judas began in the synagogue of Capernaum, where Jesus' response to Peter (John 6:70-..) allows us to understand that Judas did not share the Faith of the head of the Apostles. Judas had to be scandalized by the repeated predictions of the Passion of Jesus. […]. After Jesus' glorious entry into Jerusalem, when the Master mentioned His crucifixion (John 12:32), the crisis broke out. And Judah went to the Priests to ask how much they would give him so that he might deliver the Master to them.17
Is Bergoglio the Successor of St. Peter?
Now a question arises that concerns our days: If Judas could have been an Apostle and a devil, unbelieving and Christ's betrayer, can the successors of the Apostles (the Bishops) and the head of the Apostles (the Pope) be Bishops and Popes (being successors of the Apostles and Peter) despite being, God allowing, "devils" in the way they act?
From the lesson of John's Gospel it would seem that that is possible.
So, one can be Pope even though one does not have the objective will to do what is good for the Church, that is, one can at the same time have the will to betray Christ, to hand him over to death and one can even be an unbeliever or an infidel. Therefore, this does not take away the fact that we can say that Francis I is Pope, but [at the same time] "a devil" in the way he acts, because he is an enemy of the Doctrine and the Church of Christ.
As we can see, the teaching of the Gospel (John 6:71-72) helps us in today's crisis to avoid the gridlock of (#1) those who, on account of Bergoglio's objective "diabolicity" in his way of acting, deny that he is Pope in essence, or (#2) of those who, on account of his actual canonical election - accepted by the College of Cardinals, by the Episcopate and by the faithful - do not dare to assert that he is "a devil" because of his actions.
Certainly this is an exceptional situation (as was the case with Judas: one in twelve) and we must pray to God that he may pass away as soon as possible, but in spite of this we must not close our eyes to the reality of things and we can see that just as Judas was "a devil" even though he was an Apostle chosen and formed by Jesus, so from John XXIII until today we find ourselves faced with a series of Popes and "devils" who are objectively working evil in the Church of Christ. But if God allows it, it is because He is capable of producing from this evil a greater good, as He did with the betrayal of Judas from whom our Redemption flowed.
For now we are immersed in the darkness of betrayal ("This is the hour and the power of darkness", Luke 22:53), but we will certainly see the light of the Resurrection. When exactly we do not know, but let us pray to God that He hastens that moment, like Jesus who, when asked by Mary, advanced the beginning of His public life at Cana.
"Mary in our times: modern society is troubled by a frightening renewal fever and is infested by men who cause so much of our suffering in order to build their empire of straw, a tyranny of their vices, a nest of lust and robbery. Never has evil taken on such vast and apocalyptic characteristics, never have we known such danger. From one hour to the next we can lose not only our lives, but all civilization and all hope. It seems that the Lord also says to us "my hour has not yet come", but the Immaculate One, the Mother of God, the Virgin who is the image and protection of the Church, She gave us, already at Cana, the proof of knowing and being able to obtain the advance of God's hour. And we need this hour to come soon, to be brought forward, to be made immediate, because we could almost say: "O Mother, we can't bear it any longer!" For our sins we deserve the severest punishments, the most ruthless executions. We have driven out Your Son from our schools and workshops, from fields and cities, from streets and houses. We drove Him even out of the churches, and we preferred Barabbas. It's really Barabbas' hour [...]. With all this, confident in Mary, we feel that it is the hour of Jesus, the hour of redemption [...]. Ask Mary to say, as at Cana, "They have no more wine", and to say it with the same power of intercession and, if He hesitates, if He declines, to overcome His hesitations and to overcome through Her maternal piety our unworthiness. May she be a pitiful Mother to us and an influential Mother to Him. "Advance Your time, which is our time too. We can't bear it any longer, O Mary. Our human generation will perish if you do not move. Speak for us, o silent one, speak for us, O Mary!"18
- 1. cf. Lateran Council IV, DB 428; St. Thomas Aquinas, St. John of God Th., I, q. 63 ff.
- 2. Jesus Christ, Florence, Libreria Editrice Fiorentina, 1945, vol. II, p. 271 and 272
- 3. St. Thomas Aquinas, Commentary on the Gospel of St. John, Rome, New City, 1990, vol. I, p. 537
- 4. ibid., p. 538
- 5. ibid.
- 6. ibid.
- 7. In Joann. Evang., Tract. XXVII, 10; NBA 24, 628
- 8. ibid.
- 9. Commentary on the Gospel of St. John, Rome, New City, III ed., 1973, vol. I, p. 418)
- 10. F. Spadafora, Biblical Dictionary, Rome, Studium, III ed., 1963, p. 50, voice of the Apostles
- 11. And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray: and he passed the whole night in the prayer of God. And when day was come, he called unto him his disciples: and he chose twelve of them (whom also he named apostles) (Luke 6:12-13).
- 12. Vatican Council I, DB 1821
- 13. Council of Trent, DB 960; Vatican Council I, DB 1821-1828
- 14. cf. Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed: "I believe in One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church"
- 15. Monsignor Antonino Romeo explains: "The Apocaliptic [Messianism] falsified the Old Testament and, lowering the messianic ideal of the Prophets, it obstructed the way for the Gospel, it prepared the Jews to reject Jesus. By presenting a Messiah who restores political independence to Israel and procures universal dominion, the Apocalyptic [Messianism] accentuated nationalistic particularism and pushed Israel to rebel against Christ" (Encyclopedia Cattolica, Vatican City, 1948, vol. I, col. 1615).
- 16. See F. Spadafora, Biblical Dictionary, cit., pp. 299-301, entry Judas; M. J. Lagrange, The Gospel of Jesus Christ, Brescia, II ed., 1935, pp. 417 ff, 483 ff., 494-499, 525 ff., 538 ff.; F. Spadafora, Jesus and the Institution of the Eucharist, Rovigo, 1953, pp. 383-391; S. Thomas Aquinas, S. Th., II-II, q. 33, a. 7; q. 118, a. 8; G. Ricciotti, The Life of Christ, Milano, 1941,II vol., pp. 613-619; F. Prat, Gesù Cristo, Firenze, 1945, II vol., pp. 270-273; D. Bergamaschi, Judas Iscariot in legend, in Tradition and in the Bible, in "Scuola cattolica", n. 15, 1909, pp. 292-580.
- 17. Catholic Encyclopaedia, Vatican City, 1951, vol. 689, entry Judas Iscariota
- 18. A. Ottaviani, Il baluardo, Ares, Roma, 1961, pagg. 279-283.