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Pope: violence in God’s name is inspired by the Antichrist

By on Thursday, 10 March 2011

Fr Giuseppe Costa, director of the Libreria Editrice Vaticana, the Vatican publishing house, which published Pope Benedict XVI's new book "Jesus of Nazareth - Holy Week: From the Entrance into Jerusalem to the Resurrection"

Fr Giuseppe Costa, director of the Libreria Editrice Vaticana, the Vatican publishing house, which published Pope Benedict XVI's new book "Jesus of Nazareth - Holy Week: From the Entrance into Jerusalem to the Resurrection"

The Pope has condemned religiously motivated violence, describing it as a “favourite instrument of the Antichrist” in his new book about the life of Jesus published today.

In Jesus of Nazareth – Holy Week: From the Entrance into Jerusalem to the Resurrection, published by the Catholic Truth Society, the Holy Father criticised the idea that violence in the name of religion is justifiable.

Looking at the way Christ was portrayed by theologians during the 1960s as a revolutionary, Benedict XVI said that according to theologians of that era Jesus belongs within the line of the Zealots, who rebelled against the Roman Empire.

The Pope said: “The cleansing of the Temple serves as the central proof of this thesis, since it was unambiguously an act of violence that could not have been achieved without violence, even though the evangelists did their best to conceal this. Moreover, the fact that the people hailed Jesus as Son of David and harbinger of the Davidic kingdom is construed as a political statement, and the crucifixion of Jesus by the Romans for claiming to be ‘King of the Jews’ is seen as definitive proof that he was a revolutionary – a Zealot – and that he was executed as such. The cruel consequences of religiously motivated violence are only too evident to us all. Violence does not build up the kingdom of God, the kingdom of humanity. On the contrary, it is a favourite instrument of the Antichrist, however idealistic its religious motivation may be. It serves not humanity, but inhumanity.”
Jesus, he said, was not a Zealot. He rejected the idea of political violence and his “whole ministry and his message … point in a radically different direction”.

“No,” the Pope said, “violent revolution, killing others in God’s name, was not his way. His ‘zeal’ for the kingdom of God took quite a different form.

“In the just man exposed to suffering, the memory of the disciples recognised Jesus: zeal for God’s house leads him to the Passion, to the Cross. This is the fundamental transformation that Jesus brought to the theme of zeal-zelos. The ‘zeal’ that would serve God through violence he transformed into the zeal of the Cross. Thus he definitively established the criterion for true zeal – the zeal of self-giving love. This zeal must become the Christian’s goal; it contains the authoritative answer to the question about Jesus’s relation to the Zealot movement.”

The Pope’s book was launched just days after the Holy See’s representative to the United Nations urged the UN to reiterate that freedom of religion was at the heart of fundamental human rights.

Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, permanent representative of the Holy See to the UN in Geneva, cited a statistic that 75 per cent of those killed because of their religion across the world are Christian. He was speaking at the 16th ordinary session of the Human Rights Council on religious freedom.
Pope Benedict has consistently spoken out against religiously motivated violence, including in his famous 2006 Regensburg lecture, in which he said: “Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul.”

He began the year by condemning sectarian violence, including attacks against Christians in the Middle East.

In October he will host a meeting of religious leaders in Assisi to discuss how they can promote peace, 25 years after Pope John Paul II held a similar event. But soon after the meeting was announced the Islamic Research Council of the University of al-Azhar in Cairo, the highest authority of Sunni Islam, said it was ending dialogue with the Vatican after the Pope spoke out against anti-Christian violence in Egypt.

  • Rjr1632

    How sad that our Pope needs to remind us that violence in the name of God is not pleasing to God in any way, irrespective of the convoluted “logic” used by some of our brothers. Ray Ryan

  • Linus

    Since ” Antichrist ” means nothing to those who don’t recognize Christ as God Incarnate, it would have been much better to have used ” Satin ” or the ” Devil. ”

  • Liam Ronan

    Is it just me or is there something significant to the Pope’s characterization of religiously motivated violence as a favorite instrument of THE Antichrist? As I understand it, THE Antichrist is (or will be) a historical person. Is the Pope suggesting that THE Antichrist is now actually in the world and among us?

  • Liam Ronan

    ‘Satan’ or ‘the Devil’ is not who THE Antichrist is. THE Antichrist is a human being fully possessed by Satan and who does Satan’s will, but THE Antichrist is not Satan incarnate.

  • ms catholic state

    I think the Pope is referring to Islamic violence in particular…..

    And unlike Secularists who seem to think that bloody or unbloody revolution is the key to a glourious future (if only life were so childishly simple)……we Catholics are not allowed to partake in revolutions. At least not in bloody ones. Revolutions never lead to an eartly Paradise……nothing does.

  • ms catholic state

    Christianity is the best system going…..but even it will not lead to an earthly Paradise.

  • Belial This will answer everything happening. Do me and yourself a favor, don’t half-ass reading. Thanks <3.

    Spread it to those who wish to hear it; do what thou wilt.

  • Linus

    Obviously – to those who believe in Christ- but not to the billions who do not believe in Christ. Evenso, the Antichrist, is the instrument of Satan.

  • teresa

    Well, how about the “liberation theology”, I think he has this in mind, as the Mohammedans don’t follow the teaching of Jesus Christ so his statement won’t have theological consequence for the Islam, but for us Christians the message is clear: no violence in the name of the Real Religion of our Lord Jesus Christ.

  • Michael Petek

    There is a careful distinction to be drawn here. Violence in God’s name is the work of the spirit of Antichrist, the mystery of iniquity. Violence by God’s authority, and in vindication of law and public justice, is reserved to the temporal, political authorities.

    Jesus’ kingship is not of this kind. It is of a kind available only to the House of David and was only ever conferred by anointing with the holy oil normally reserved for the Levitical priests. A man was considered anointed if either he or his patrilineal ancestor was.

  • Michael Petek

    No violence in the name of any religion at all.

    To invoke God or any deity in aid or favour of violence is blasphemy, and the State justifiably puts to death anyone who does so, provided that there is a law authorising this.

  • Anonymous

    ‘Secularists’, is a phrase I have heard no one apply to themselves. People usually do not define, or come to their point of view, simply because of lack of belief in God.

    I would like to point out that the majority of the people you are talking about will be those on the left of politics. These are the very people that have stood up against the perils of war for the very longest time.

    Stop the War Coalition, which helped organise the protests over the Iraq war, is a left-wing advocacy group. The Guardian, Britain’s most prominent left-wing paper always had an anti-war bias, protesting before both mid-east wars and heaping critism on the decisions to go to war. They also have run a number of exposes on Britain’s arms dealings with foreign tyrants such as with Lybia, ironic considering the governments position on Lybia now. The Guardian was also anti-war during the Falkland’s conflict and towards american miltary action around the world.
    More extreme left-wing voices, such as the Socialist Worker, have had a very anti-war stance.

    Consider the massive student protests in America in the 70′s over the Vietnam War, the vast majority of whom – left-wingers.

    Now look instead at the right wing. British papers Daily Mail, The Sun and the Telegraph are, and have all been reliably pro-war in terms of Britains recent military action. Iraq, Afghanistan, the Gulf War and the Falklands in particular. Fox News, the American right-wing cable channel is persistently pro-war, with suggestions against war from the left-wingers crushed as ‘unpatriotic’ and as ‘not supporting the troops’.

    If their is one thing that the Church and the left-wing consistently share, it is an attitude of avoiding war and bloodshed where-ever possible.

  • Bwaj

    Who tells you there is such a distinction?

  • Bwaj

    The state does not have authority to have the death penalty.

  • Bwaj

    Wrong – the Church Fathers believed the AntiChrist would be Satan incarnate. Only today’s liberals preach a different view.

  • Liam Ronan

    I have no idea what Michael Petek is trying to say, Bwaj, but as I was taught there is a distinction between the use of ‘violence’ (which is never justified) and the use of ‘force’ (which may be justified if exercised by lawful authority in certain narrow circumstances or in self-defence).

  • Liam Ronan

    Sorry Bwaj you are as mistaken in your assertion about the Antichrist as you are in perceiving a liberal bias in my earlier comment.

  • flower

    You are so wrong “paulsays!” You have it backwards!

  • Anonymous

    In what respect? The general trend I am emphasizing is that right-wing groups are generally pro-war and left-wing groups are usually against war. The Church I would emphasize, and would praise for – has been ardently anti-war.

    My point stands for the majority of cases you will find. The biggest voices on the left in political discourse, such as Noam Chomsky, Tony Benn, the American socialist Bernie Sanders. All against war. The biggest names on the right in political discourse, Maggie Thatcher, Peter Hitchens, Nick Ferrari, William Hague, George Bush etc. etc… The point is I will not run out of suitable and prominent names.

    With the exception of Blair, who has been abandoned by those on the left for the most part, my argument stands up totally. Prove me wrong…

  • Anonymous

    why is it blasphemy to try?

  • Edgar

    Paul leftwingers have chosen very carefully when they are anti war. For the european left the USA is evil but they have closed their eyes to many wars. They have infact helped many dictators like Fidel Castro to stay in power and never really did something about eastern europe when the soviets ruled that part of the world. They have been very good in chasing revolutions like nicaragua etc. I am sorry to say it but too many people have sufferedd because leftwingers. Play revolution when you don’t have to suffer what comes next is easy. The Church want us o avoid wars but sometimes it is not possible. In those cases you better win the war my friend. It was not possible to avoid war with Hitler or Osama Bin Laden.

  • Anonymous

    Although I disagree with your personal judgement on where conflict is a good idea, that is not the point I am making. I am not judging the actions of the left, nor your opinions. Foreign policy is where I have least knowledge, and least interest.

    What I do dispute however, is a revisionist attitude to history. Or, perhaps simply an ignorance of history.
    Commenter ‘mscatholicstate’ said that:

    ‘secularists who seem to think that bloody or unbloody revolution is the key to a glourious future’

    I don’t have the statistics to hand, but I think that it would be fair to say that those pushing for a more secular state are significantly more likely to be left-wing.
    I don’t think it would be controversial to assume that the majority of ‘secularists’ would be left-wing. I am NOT a ‘secularist’ but I do believe in left-wing point of view, therefore I thought it only right to defend the views of a group against an opinion of them that is entirely false.

  • Anonymous

    The Pope’s perspective on religious violence and its history is greatly flawed, as is the Vatican’s appeal to the U.N to reiterate religious freedom as being at the heart of Human Rights.

    For example, His Holiness writes: ” Moreover, the fact that the people hailed Jesus as Son of David and harbinger of the Davidic kingdom is construed as a political statement, and the crucifixion of Jesus by the Romans for claiming to be ‘King of the Jews’ is seen as definitive proof that he was a revolutionary – a Zealot – and that he was executed as such.”

    Note first how the pope avoids telling us who exactly construed the claim of the people as a political statement. Was it the Jewish leaders or the Romans? He evades identification.

    At any rate, Jesus was not crucified by the Romans because He claimed to be ‘King of the Jews.’ Rather, it was the chief priests of the Jews who handed Him over to the Romans and agitated for his death precisely because they rejected His claim to being their Messiah. At least that’s what the Gospels tell us.

    Did not Pilate say “I find no cause in Him,” and on several occasions try to reason with His accusers, eventually washing his hands “of innocent blood” when he realised that he was not going to prevail? I also seem to recall the Gospels relating Pilate’s words to Jesus’ accusers, thus: “shall I crucify your king?” to which question they responded “we have no king but Caesar.”

    Is Pope Benedict XVI calling the Gospels into question with his alternative view of the events leading to Our Lord’s crucifixion?

    Furthermore, if, as the pope declares, religious violence “is a favourite instrument of Antichrist,” does that mean he is declaring the Crusades, raised by Catholic popes and monarchs to defend the holy places from the onslaught of Islam, to have been the work of Antichrist? And what about the battle of Lepanto, the Christian victory of which was prayed for by Pope St. Pius V? And what about the violence used by Our Lord to drive the money changers from the Temple?

    It seems to me that His Holiness needs to qualify exactly what he means by religious violence. There is sometimes a neccessary violence required to overcome aggressive religious error, which is as justified as violence against the invader of a sovereign nation. Then there is unneccessary violence, such as we witness with fundamentalist Islamic terrorism and Pakistani Sharia law against Christians and other non-Muslims who pose no threat to anyone.

    There is a great distinction to be made between these two forms of religious violence. For example, does the Pope’s declaration that “Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul,” include the wars fought in God’s name by the Israelites of the Old Testament? To declare so would be to nullify what is recorded in Sacred Scripture.

    And what is behind this Vatican appeal to the U.N. to reiterate religious freedom?

    If it merely means that all should be protected from violence inflicted upon them because of their conscience-held religious beliefs, then fine, I have no trouble endorsing that. However, if it means that all are free to hold and spread any religion whatever without regard to the true religion, then that would be heresy. Again, there is no specific detail given us.

    Thank God this book of Pope Benedict is his just his personal view! With another Assis on the go, though, I fear the worst possible interpretation of this religious freedom business.

  • Peter Coates

    Ordinary people should be taught how to correctly collect evidence which can be presented at a war crimes tribunal. This should be part of civil defence in all countries of the world. In the trials after the Yugoslvia civil war in the 1990s peoples eye witness accounts of atrocities was frequently not of a standard which could be used in court. The Pope is wrong if he thinks that a just God would want us all to be repeatedly crucified by defective leaders and their armies. We need an agreed intelligent response and the war crimes tribunal seems to me to be it. Peter Coates, Linden, Bircham Rd, Stanhoe, Norfolk, UK. PE318PT.

  • Hadrek

    in the name of opus diaboli stop readuing man made filthy lies of the nazarene suprised this dominus had time shi writibng scrolls is is not enough proof now that servants of dominus spend their negative energies abusing children domin us is a filthy excuse now who is the true dei lebanon bow down to your knees and think in tonal thoughts shi the dark to invite themselves into each and every terrans life let them crawl inside your knees let them move on your spines feel the electricity fuzzy physical feeling of them move on you then you will all become mediums why is the dominus observatory in italy studying a star around zeta reticuli two and nasa is doing the same ///// something shi you servants of dominus to ask questions i am knowone no man made dominus has the authority to question i you were shown that with the child louis vat et not new york that i summoned in here i challenge all servants of dominus to take i down i move in host vehicle spreading to others the true opus daiboli et deus kuhuna shi

  • Meditatio Divina

    Our Lord Jesus Christ only commanded His holy Apostles to preach and teach the Gospel to all nations. He never gave them authority to kill, to torture or to delegate such acts of violence and cruelty to a secular party. Religious freedom has been purchased with the blood of many. We should never advocate violence in the name of our God. Those who did it will answer to Him for their sin, we must not allow violence to become a way of imposing religious views. If Moslems are not prepared to acknowledge anti-Christian violence in their own countries, they will be answerable to God and to His justice. This attitude reveals lack of honesty ,of self-examination and of desire to promote peace. It also reveal a great spiritual immaturity. If we desire peace we should be able to correct those things within us which prevent peace from happening.
    It is a terrible thing to fall in the hands of the living God when innocent blood is shed. If Allah allows sectarian violence definitely he is not the same God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob because to them was the promise “In thee all the nations shall be blessed”. Christ was the promise and in Him all nations shall be blessed if they trust in Him.