Fretting over the fate of Judas wouldn’t seem a high priority for a pope. But it is a subject that gnaws at Pope Francis.
In 2014, the Religion News Service ran an article entitled “Pope Francis: Judas Wasn’t So Bad.” It quoted from a sermon in which he said all of Jesus Christ’s disciples were sinners:
Judas was not the one who sinned the most: I don’t know who sinned the most.… Judas, poor man, is the one who closed himself to love and that is why he became a traitor. And they all ran away during the difficult time of the Passion and left Jesus alone. They are all sinners.
This last week Pope Francis returned to the subject of Judas. In a homily last Wednesday, he speculated on the eternal destination of Judas, saying he didn’t know if he went to Hell. Pope Francis said,
Something that calls my attention is that Jesus never calls him “traitor”: [Jesus] says he will be betrayed, but he doesn’t say to [Judas], “traitor.” He never says, “Go away, traitor.” Never. In fact, he calls him, “Friend,” and he kisses him. The mystery of Judas.… What is the mystery of Judas? I don’t know.… Don Primo Mazzolari explains it better than me.… Yes, it consoles me to contemplate that capital [of the column] of Vezelay: How did Judas end up? I don’t know. Jesus threatens forcefully here; he threatens forcefully: “Woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed. It would be better for that man if he had never been born.” But does that mean that Judas is in Hell? I don’t know. I look at that capital. And I listen to the word of Jesus: “Friend.”
Here, as on so many other matters, the pope seeks to open up an issue the tradition of the Church had closed. The doctors of the Church, such as St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas, have never hesitated to say that Judas went to Hell. Pope Francis takes his cue, instead, from contemporary theology, which is very eager to say that Hell is empty.
Read more at the American Spectator