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Papal Theologian Utters Heresy

by Christopher A. Ferrara

One of the gathering causes for concern in the new pontificate is that Father Raniero Cantalamessa has been retained as the preacher of the Pontifical Household. Cantalamessa’s heterodox teaching has already been exposed by John Vennari in Catholic Family News (in "From Pentecostalism to Apostasy"), where Vennari denounced Cantalamessa’s outrageous statement, during the Good Friday liturgy at the Vatican in 2002, that other religions "are not merely tolerated by God … but positively willed by Him as an expression of the inexhaustible richness of His grace and His will for everyone to be saved."

That God would "positively will" the existence of religions which deny His very existence (Hinduism, Buddhism), and the divinity of His Son (Islam, Judaism) is not only heresy, but blasphemy. Yet Cantalamassa still enjoys a most favored position in the Vatican. And he continues to use that position to promote heresy.

In his commentary on the Gospel for Sunday, May 22 (as reported by Zenit news) Cantalamessa made this astonishing statement: "So we must ask: who does God love to be defined as love? A first answer might be: He loves mankind. But we have existed for some millions of years, no more. And before then, who did God love? He could not in fact have begun to be love at a certain point in time, because God cannot change. Second answer: Before then he loved the cosmos, the universe. But the universe has existed for some thousands of millions of years. Before then, who did God love to be able to define himself as love? We cannot say that he loved himself because to love oneself is not love, but egoism or, as psychologists say, narcissism."

Put aside Cantalamessa’s implicit endorsement of the evolutionist fallacy that man has existed for "millions of years"  —  a curious claim given that there is no trace of human civilization until around 4000 B.C. (How could man have lived on this earth for "millions of years" without forming civilizations?) The focus here is on the blatant heresy in Cantalamessa’s statement that God does not love Himself, as this would be "narcissism."

It is, of course, a defined dogma of the Faith that "God loves Himself of necessity, but loves and wills the creation of extra-divine things, on the other hand, with freedom." (Ott, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, p.46, citing the First Vatican Council). And, of course, as Our Lord Himself taught us, in addition to the greatest commandment, which is "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart and with thy whole soul and with thy whole mind," there is a second commandment, which "is like to this: Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." (Matt. 22:38-39) That is, we, in imitation of God, must love ourselves as creatures of our divine creator. In keeping with this divinely willed self-love, we must treat our bodies with reverence and respect as temples of the Holy Ghost, refrain from self-abuse and abhor even the thought of suicide.

He who denies that God loves Himself of necessity is, quite simply, a heretic. Now, Cantalamassa may not be a formal heretic, in that he does not understand that his opinion is contrary to the Faith. He may be only a material heretic, whose errors arise from ignorance of what the Church teaches. But, objectively speaking, the preacher of the papal household has uttered a heresy  —  a heresy that denies the very nature of God as the all-perfect being who cannot but love His own perfection, which necessarily includes the love of self Christians are enjoined to practice.

"God is love" (Jn. 4:16) says Sacred Scripture. Whoever would love another must first love himself or else he is not capable of love. Infinitely more is this true of the very Author of love, whose divine Son taught us the very meaning of what it means to love another as we love ourselves. It is a sad and indeed terrifying day for the Church when the preacher of the papal household errs in such a fundamental matter of the Faith.