The Judas Complex

With US bishops, actions speak louder than words

Boston College philosopher Peter Kreeft has observed that “Judas was the first Catholic Bishop to accept a government grant.” One wonders, did that comment give our bishops pause to reflect, or did it just make them mad?

Dr. Kreeft has a point. Thirty years ago, Fr. Malichi Martin described what he called “The Judas Complex.” He used the term in his analysis of the Catholic hierarchy at the time. “While the ultimate result of Judas’ choice was betrayal and treachery, his specific sin was compromise,” Martin wrote in The Keys to This Blood.

How many ways can a bishop compromise? Let’s start with that government grant, Judas’ betrayal of Christ for 30 pieces of silver from the Temple bureaucracy. The burning scene from The Passion of the Christ depicts the total depravity of the man who has given over his soul to Satan, to be sure. But Judas was on good terms with the Jews, says Martin, and was constantly urging Christ to compromise with them. Of course, he had selfish goals: a powerful post in Christ’s earthly kingdom.

All of us are tempted to compromise with the world, but bishops are Satan’s special targets. As Raymond Cardinal Burke told this writer years ago, “Pray for me: The snake strikes at the head.” And Professor Kreeft’s observation resonates with our experience of bishops today. They are desperate for money, with donations tanking for years due to the scandals. Along comes the Congress, showering them with over a billion dollars a year for their NGOs. What have our shepherds given in return, in this munificent compromise?

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