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 CNS Story:

POPE-JUDAS (UPDATED) Apr-17-2006 (510 words) With photos posted April 13. xxxi

Pope, in Holy Thursday homily, says Judas was a greedy liar

By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service

ROME (CNS) -- Judas was a greedy liar who put his desire for money ahead of his relationship with Jesus and his love for God, Pope Benedict XVI said.

Exactly a week after the National Geographic Society put the sympathetic Gospel of Judas on display, Pope Benedict reasserted the traditional Christian view that Judas betrayed his friend and Lord after the Last Supper.

The document that went on display in Washington April 6 is a third-century Coptic translation of what had originally been written in Greek before 180. The text portrays Judas as Jesus' closest disciple and says Jesus asked Judas to hand him over to the Roman authorities so that he could fulfill his mission.

But during his April 13 homily at the Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord's Supper, Pope Benedict said Judas is the clearest example Christians have of someone who refuses God's saving love.

For Judas, the pope said, "only power and success are real; love does not count."

"And he is greedy: Money is more important than communion with Jesus, more important than God and his love. He also becomes a liar, a double-crosser who breaks with the truth," Pope Benedict said.

Purposefully ignoring the truth, he said, Judas "hardens, becoming incapable of conversion ... and throws away his destroyed life."

The next day, the pope's preacher also weighed in against the recent wave of "pseudohistorical literature" gaining popularity as well as the soon-to-be-released film, "The Da Vinci Code."

In his April 14 homily during the Good Friday liturgy of the Lord's Passion, Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa said that millions of people today were being "crassly manipulated by the media," which is more interested in touting the newest fad or insight rather than the truth and, as a consequence, turning a pretty penny for it.

"There is much talk about Judas' betrayal without realizing that it is being repeated" today, he said during his homily given before the pope and hundreds of people in St. Peter's Basilica.

"Christ is being sold again," he said, but this time "to publishers and booksellers" for billions of dollars.

People seem to be always itching for something new, and there are those who take advantage of that by carrying out or promoting "the clever rewriting of ancient legends," he said.

The fantasies and speculation will only "flare up with the imminent release of a certain film," the Capuchin friar said, in reference to the movie "The Da Vinci Code," based on the novel by Dan Brown.

The preacher of the papal household said he felt it was his duty to address the current swirl of controversy surrounding the many interpretations of the life and death of Jesus because "we cannot allow the silence of believers to be mistaken for embarrassment" nor allow the media to manipulate the truth about Christ's life, his death on the cross and his resurrection.

- - -

Contributing to this story was Carol Glatz.

END


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