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ROME (LifeSiteNews) – A close papal confidant and editor of an influential Jesuit publication has published a Gospel commentary described as “blasphemous” due to its description of Jesus Christ as “stymied and callous.”

In a commentary published August 20 in Italy’s secular and left-wing paper il Fatto Quotidiano, Father Antonio Spadaro S.J. provided his personal take on the Gospel of the day for the Novus Ordo Mass calendar, taken from the Gospel of Matthew, 15: 21- 28. Since 2011, Spadaro has served as the editor-in-chief of the Jesuit-run La Civilta Cattolica – which is reviewed and approved by the Vatican before its publication – and is well-known as “one of the pontiff’s trusted advisers,” who “has the pope’s ear.” 

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Recounting the passage of Christ’s encounter with the Canaanite woman whose daughter was afflicted by a demon, Spadaro accused Christ of being first “indifferent,” and then “stymied and callous.”

“Jesus remains indifferent,” argued Spadaro in reference to Christ not appearing to answer the woman’s initial cries. “His disciples approach him and plead with him in amazement,” he continued. “The woman was moving those who also misjudged her! Her cries had broken the barrier of rancor. But Jesus did not care.”

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Spadaro argued that Christ’s “silence” was followed by “Jesus’ stymied and callous reply, ‘I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.’” 

“The Master’s harshness is unshakable,” commented Spadaro, previously denoted as “the Pope’s mouthpiece.” 

“Now even Jesus plays the theologian: the mission received from God is limited to the children of Israel. So, no dice. Mercy is not for her,” he said. “It is excluded. There is no question about it.”

The 57-year-old Jesuit argued that Christ’s continued conversation with the Canaanite woman was marked by the cultural “rigidity” of the time. Christ “responds mockingly and disrespectfully to the poor woman,” the Jesuit wrote, as he added that the Divine response was “a fall in tone, in style, in humanity. Jesus appears as if he was blinded by nationalism and theological rigor.” 

He argued that the woman needed to “upset Jesus’ rigidity” in order to “to ‘convert’ him to himself.”

Just as the woman’s daughter was healed instantly by Christ’s words, Spadaro argued that “Jesus, too, appears healed, and finally shows himself free, from the rigidity from the dominant theological, political and cultural elements of his time.”

Spadaro’s words have been described by notable Italian blog Messa in Latino as “heretical blasphemies.” Father John Hardon’s S.J. renown Modern Catholic Dictionary (published 1980) denotes blasphemy primarily as “speaking against God in a contemptuous, scornful, or abusive manner.”

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The Jesuit’s comments have also sparked outrage from former Papal nuncio Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, who argued forthrightly that “Spadaro’s words are like a puddle of sewage containing the scum of the worst Modernism that has been plaguing the Church for more than a century.”

Viganò wrote that Spadaro’s commentary was published in the safe knowledge of the protection of Pope Francis, and that it was “the manifestation, the epiphany, as some ‘theologian’ of Santa Marta would call it, of a counter-church with its false dogmas, mendacious precepts, deceitful preaching, its corrupted and corrupting ministers.”

He stated that a “sect that eclipses the Church of Christ no longer hides: it shows itself and claims to definitively replace the true Church, it shows its idols and demands that they be worshiped, at the price of denying the Savior himself, refuting His divinity, judging His actions, disputing His words.”

Teaching of Tradition

While Spadaro’s particular commentary on the Gospel’s describes Christ as “rigid,” the timeless theologian and doctor of the Church St. Thomas Aquinas has presented an authentic Catholic teaching on St. Matthew’s text.

Writing in great detail, St. Thomas explained Christ’s initial silence to the Canaanite woman as being to show her: 

  • “That what is beyond the law is obtained through insistence in prayer,”
  • “so that her devotion would increase,”
  • “to give an occasion to the disciples to intercede for her, because however good someone is, he still needs the prayers of others.”

In His interaction with the woman, Christ tests and proves her faith and humility, explains St. Thomas, thus teaching in line with the Scriptures (Psalm 101:18 & Sir 35:21), that “he has had regard to the prayer of the humble.”

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Aquinas also collates the teaching of the Church Fathers in his Catena Aurea Gospel commentaries, with lines from Sts. John Chrysostom and Augustine among many others. Concerning the passage in question, St. Jerome writes how “wonderful are shewn the faith, patience, and humility of this woman; faith, that she believed that her daughter could be healed; patience, that so many times overlooked, she yet perseveres in her prayers; humility, that she compares herself not to the dogs, but to the whelps.”

For his part, St. John Chrysostom notes that “this was the cause why Christ was so backward, that He knew what she would say, and would not have her so great excellence hid.”