VATICAN (ChurchMilitant.com) - A top Vatican official says it's "heresy" to say that Judas Iscariot is in Hell.
In comments made at a press conference Tuesday, Abp. Vincenzo Paglia, head of the Pontifical Academy for Life, and a close associate of Pope Francis, claimed, "For a Catholic to say [Judas is in Hell], it's heresy."
Faithful Catholics are criticizing his comment, recalling how Our Lord spoke of Judas: "The Son of Man indeed goes, as it is written of him: but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man shall be betrayed. It were better for him, if that man had not been born."
The Saints, Fathers and Doctors of the Church say unanimously that Judas is in Hell.
Because of the fall of Judas, St. Peter led the Apostles in picking his replacement, who would be St. Matthias. While conducting the election, St. Peter had foreboding things to say about the traitorous Apostle. In Acts 1:16–20, St. Peter declares:
Men, brethren, the Scripture must needs be fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost spoke before by the mouth of David concerning Judas ... he indeed hath possessed a field of the reward of iniquity ... the same field was called ... the field of blood. For it is written in the book of Psalms: Let their habitation become desolate, and let there be none to dwell therein.
Saint Peter was referring to Psalm 108:6–8: "Set thou the sinner over him: and may the devil stand at his right hand. When he is judged, may he go out condemned; and may his prayer be turned to sin. May his days be few: and his bishopric let another take."
Three famous saints addressed Judas' final disposition:
St. Augustine: "For Judas, when he killed himself, killed a wicked man, and passed from this life chargeable not only with the death of Christ, but also with his own: for though he killed himself on account of his crime, his killing himself was another crime."
St. Thomas Aquinas: "In the case of Judas, the abuse of grace was the reason for his reprobation, since he was made reprobate because he died without grace."
Pope St. Leo the Great: "The godless betrayer, shutting his mind to all these things [offerings of God's Mercy], turned upon himself, not with a mind to repent, but in the madness of self-destruction; so that this man who had sold the Author of Life to the executioners of His death, even in the act of dying sinned unto the increase of his own eternal punishment."
At Tuesday's press brieing, Abp. Paglia also disagreed with the opinion that a priest should not be in the room at a person's assisted suicide, saying that being present "to hold the hand of someone who is dying" by assisted suicide "is something that every faithful must promote ... ."
He did, however, condemn assisted suicide, calling it a "defeat" for the rest of society, adding "We can never transform it into a 'wise decision.'"
Asking to be killed is gravely disordered and is a rejection of the hope that the rite calls for and tries to bring into the situation. … But we cannot be forgiven pre-emptively for something we are going to do — like ask for assisted suicide when suicide is a grave sin.
He did, however, encourage priests to be present so they can pray for the person that he may "turn away from it."
The bishops of the province of Alberta released a joint statement condemning the participation of any Catholic in assisted suicide, calling it "morally wrong. … [N]o Catholic may advocate for, or participate in any way, whether by act or omission, in the intentional killing of another human being either by assisted suicide or euthanasia."
According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the last rites are administered to those in danger of death from sickness or old age, as well as those on the point of death. A necessary part of the reception of the sacrament — which includes anointing with holy oil, confession and the reception of the Holy Eucharist — is true contrition for sins.