Archbishop of Lima says Jesus died as a layman and without offering a sacrifice

Archbishop Carlos Castillo Mattasoglio Archbishop Carlos Castillo Mattasoglio of Lima, Peru | ACI Prensa

Archbishop Carlos Castillo Mattasoglio of Lima, Peru, has yet to clarify remarks he made in a pre-Christmas Mass that contradict the teaching of the Catholic Church about Jesus’ death.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church affirms that Jesus is “the true priest” whose death is “a redemptive sacrifice.”

Speaking on Dec. 19, however, Castillo stated that Jesus died as “a layman,” and did so without offering a "sacrifice."

"And Jesus doesn’t die offering the sacrifice of a holocaust, Jesus dies as a murdered layman, to which He decides not to respond with vengeance and who accepts the cross to give us a sign of life," the archbishop said during Mass in the Lima cathedral.

"And he dies as a layman who gives hope to humanity, he dies as a human being like all of you who are present here, we too, because we can’t be priests without first being baptized lay people," he said.

Castillo said that “lay person comes from laos, which means people. And God wanted to sanctify his people, and if we are here, it is to serve them.”

The prelate recalled that God had promised Israel that from his people "a shoot would come forth that would be the Savior."

“The poor people of Israel, those who don’t count, took it to heart, while the priests felt they were to fulfill the promise,” who had to take up their role, but “they weren’t the ones who were going to represent salvation, but a layman, a layman like the kings who were laymen, from the tribe of Judah,” Castillo continued.

“I also say that for our fellow priests present here. We are servants of the People of God, so that from you (the people) someone emerges who is hope, just as Jesus is hope,” Castillo said.

What the Archbishop of Lima said about Jesus the "layman" who dies without "sacrifice" is contrary to Catholic doctrine.

The Letter to the Hebrews chapters 4-10 goes to great lengths to explain to the Jewish audience to whom the letter is addressed how Christ, known to be a member of the tribe of Judah, and not a descendant of Aaron of the tribe of Levi who alone were priests according to the Mosaic Law,  was in fact our great high priest who offered himself as a sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins, once for all.

The Catechism of the Church published in 1992 during the pontificate of Pope Saint John Paul II articulates the Church’s teaching on Christ’s priesthood and His sacrifice.

The Catechism states in No. 1545 that “The redemptive sacrifice of Christ is unique, accomplished once for all; yet it is made present in the Eucharistic sacrifice of the Church. The same is true of the one priesthood of Christ; it is made present through the ministerial priesthood without diminishing the uniqueness of Christ's priesthood: ‘Only Christ is the true priest, the others being only his ministers.’"

No. 1545 recalls what St.Thomas Aquinas, a Doctor of the Church, said in his commentary on the Letter to the Hebrews, where he affirms: “And therefore only Christ is the true priest; the rest are his ministers.” A Doctor of the Church is that saint who, due to his erudition and importance, is an important teacher of the faith for the Catholic faithful of all times.

Also in the catechism, No. 1546 states that Christ is "Priest, Prophet and King.”

No. 1548 establishes that "in the ecclesial service of the ordained minister, it is Christ himself who is present to his Church as Head of his Body, Shepherd of his flock, high priest of the redemptive sacrifice, Teacher of Truth.

In May 2014, when presiding at the ordination of 13 priests, Pope Francis said that they were "configured to Christ, High and Eternal Priest, that is, they will be consecrated as true priests of the New Testament."

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"And with this title that unites them to their bishop in the priesthood, they will be preachers of the Gospel, shepherds of the people of God and will preside at acts of worship, especially the celebration of the Lord's sacrifice," he added.

In April 2016, Pope Francis ordained 11 priests. He told them that "our High Priest, Jesus Christ, chose some disciples who in the Church would carry out, on his behalf, the priestly office for the good of men."

"The Lord Jesus wanted to choose some in particular from among his disciples, so that, by publicly exercising in the Church in his name the priestly office for all men, they would continue his personal mission as teacher, priest and shepherd," the pope added.

This story was originally published by ACI Prensa, CNA's Spanish-language sister news agency. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

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