leading Latin American archbishops, including three cardinals, have
expressed regret over National Geographic’s decision to publish a Palm
Sunday report on the so-called “Gospel of Judas,” presenting it as new
discovery that sheds light on the life of Jesus.
In reality, they say, the text is one of a number of writings created by Gnostic sects which were attributed to the Apostles but were never accepted by the early Church. The oldest copy of the text dates back to the year 260, more than two centuries after the Gospels of Matthew and Mark were written.
“The enemies of the Church are drudging up old arguments, apocryphal writings in order to confuse the people, and if people do not study their faith, they will get confused,” said Cardinal Juan Sandoval Iñiguez of Guadalajara, Mexico.
Speaking to more than 300 young people gathered at the site of a new shrine dedicated to a group of Mexican martyrs, the cardinal said, “If Catholics adequately study their faith, nothing would be able to shake it, not even their enemies.” He also called on the faithful to not be fooled by “apocryphal writings that only carry with them a host of lies and fables.”
Cardinal Sandoval noted that the “Gospel of Judas,” which National Geographic presented as a new discovery, was already known to the Church in 1945, when scholars found the document in Egypt.
In Mexico City, Cardinal Norberto Rivera called the National Geographic report “sensationalist and lacking in credibility” saying it was historically disconnected from the testimony of the Apostles and the witnesses of the life of Jesus. “If we followed that logic, I could say that what you have been told about our independence is not true and that I am the one who has a secret revelation. It’s obvious that that document is neither a gospel nor was it written by Judas,” the cardinal said.
In Monterrey, Mexico, Archbishop Francisco Robles criticized National Geographic’s opportunism in presenting the so-called “gospel.” “What a coincidence that they sat on the news until this week, when our Christian sensibility is so out in the open,” he said.
Archbishop Robles noted that the Christian community “came to a conclusion about this text and others centuries ago and they were not accepted. Therefore they do not form part of the canon of the Bible…The only historical and authentic documents for the Christian faith are the canonical Gospels, which from the beginning were approved by the Church,” he added, saying Catholics should not be disturbed by these types of reports.
In Chile, Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz of Santiago reiterated that the text belongs to the apocryphal writings that contradict the Gospels that have always been accepted by the Church. “The Gospels which the Church has always considered authentic were written by the Apostles themselves or their close associates,” he said. “The Gospel of Judas totally contradicts what we know of Christian history, which is the result of a very precise and drawn-out discernment.”
“When did Judas have time to write a gospel if he hung himself? Not only that, but the first Christians noted that when he gave the silver coins back they did not want to return them to the temple treasury and they used them to buy a field which to this day is known as the Field of Blood, because it was the fruit of the shedding of the blood of Christ and the suicide of Judas. In other words, the document is contradictory and late,” said Cardinal Errazuriz.