Home>Catholic Preterism

Catholic Preterism

Roman CatholicsJesuit Luis AlcazarJ.B. Bossuet, Gonzalo Rojas Flores,  Charles Homer Giblin, Godet, Scott HahnHardouin, HugMonsignor Francesco Spadafora.  (Lapide and Pascal have “preterist elements”)

Preterist Eschatology in the 16th through 18th Centuries // Catholic Origins of Preterism?

Pope Benedict XVI
“The judgment announced by the Lord Jesus refers above all to the destruction of Jerusalem in the year 70.”

Pope Benedict XVI

Benedict XVI: ‘The judgment announced by the Lord Jesus refers above all to the destruction of Jerusalem in the year 70.’  


Excerpt of Homily of Pope Benedict XVI – Vatican Basilica, Sunday, 2 October 2005

“The reading from the Prophet Isaiah and today’s Gospel set before our eyes one of the great images of Sacred Scripture: the image of the vine…Thus, the reading from the Prophet that we have just heard begins like a canticle of love: God created a vineyard for himself – this is an image of the history of love for humanity, of his love for Israel which he chose…

In the Gospel, the image changes: the vine produces good grapes, but the tenants keep them for themselves. They are not willing to hand them over to the owner of the vineyard. They beat and kill his messengers and kill his son. Their motive is simple: they themselves want to become owners; they take possession of what does not belong to them….There, it is only the desire for power and private interests that can prevail. Of course, one can chase the Son out of the vineyard and kill him, in order selfishly to taste the fruits of the earth alone….Thus, we reach a third element of today’s readings. In the Old and New Testaments, the Lord proclaims judgment on the unfaithful vineyard. The judgment that Isaiah foresaw is brought about in the great wars and exiles for which the Assyrians and Babylonians were responsible. The judgment announced by the Lord Jesus refers above all to the destruction of Jerusalem in the year 70.”

Natural Disasters and human tragedies do not mean the end of the world, says Pope Benedict XVI
Vatican City, Nov 18, 2007 / 10:13 am (CNA).- With thousands of faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the Angelus prayer today, Pope Benedict XVI rejected the “recurring messianisms” that are continually announcing the imminent end the world. He explained that “history is ongoing, and involves human tragedies and natural calamities.”

Reflecting on the Gospel reading for this Sunday, the Holy Father recalled that, since its inception, the Church “prayerfully lives in the care of its Lord, scrutinizing the signs of the times and keeping the faithful on guard against the calls of messianisms, which from time to time announce the imminent end of the world.”

Actually, the Pontiff said, “history must take its course, which also involves human tragedies and natural calamities. As time develops, the design of salvation that Christ has already taken effect in his incarnation, death and resurrection [becomes clearer]. This mystery is continually announced by the Church and actualized in her preaching, with the celebration of the sacraments and the testimony of charity.”

Faced with the problems of life, “do not be afraid for the future,” said the pope, who urged parishioners to accept “the invitation of Christ to face everyday events trusting his love.

Antidote against nihilism: faith and charity

Finally, Benedict XVI highlighted the example of charity of consecrated persons, especially those who “have withdrawn into contemplation enclosed in monasteries”.

“Monasteries”, he said, are a “spiritual oasis” which indicate that God and his love are the ultimate reason worth living for.

“Faith that operates in charity is the true antidote to the nihilistic mentality, which in our time is always expanding its influence in the world,” the Holy Father stressed.

Benedict XVI On Apostle John and Revelation
CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, AUG. 23, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of Benedict XVI’s address at today’s general audience, dedicated to the Apostle John, whom he presented on this occasion as “the seer of Patmos. The meditation is part of the series of reflections he is offering on the Church and the apostles.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In the last catechesis we meditated on the figure of the Apostle John. At first we tried to see how much can be known of his life. Then, in a second catechesis, we meditated on the central content of his Gospel, of his Letters: charity, love. And today we are again concerned with the figure of John, this time to consider the seer of Revelation.

We must immediately make an observation: Whereas his name never appears in the Fourth Gospel or the letters attributed to the apostle, [the Book of] Revelation makes reference to John’s name four times (cf. 1:1,4,9; 22:8). On one hand, it is evident that the author had no reason to silence his name and, on the other, he knew that his first readers could identify him with precision. We know moreover that, already in the third century, the scholars argued over the true identity of the John of Revelation.

For this reason we can also call him “the seer of Patmos,” because his figure is linked to the name of this island of the Aegean Sea, where, according to his own autobiographical testimony, he found himself deported “because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus” (Revelation 1:19). Precisely on Patmos, “in the Spirit on the Lord’s day,” John had grandiose visions and heard extraordinary messages, which would have no little influence on the history of the Church and on the whole of Christian culture.

For example, from the title of his book, “Apocalypse” [Revelation], were introduced in our language the words “apocalypse, apocalyptic,” which evoke, though inappropriately, the idea of an impending catastrophe.

The book must be understood in the context of the dramatic experience of the seven Churches of Asia (Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Tiatira, Sardi, Philadelphia and Laodicea), which toward the end of the first century had to face great difficulties — persecutions and even internal difficulties — in their witnessing of Christ. John addresses them, showing profound pastoral sensitivity for persecuted Christians, whom he exhorts to remain steadfast in the faith and not identify with the very strong pagan world.

His objective, in short, is to unveil, from the death and resurrection of Christ, the meaning of human history. The first and essential vision of John, in fact, concerns the figure of the Lamb, which, despite being slain, is standing (cf. Revelation 5:6), placed before the throne where God himself is seated. With this, John wants to tell us two things above all: The first is that Jesus, though he was killed with an act of violence, instead of lying fallen on the ground remains paradoxically standing firmly on his feet, because with the resurrection he has vanquished death definitively.

The second is that Jesus himself, precisely because he died and resurrected, now participates fully in the royal and salvific power of the Father. This is the fundamental vision. Jesus, the Son of God, is, on this earth, a defenseless, wounded and dead Lamb. And yet, he is standing, firm, before the throne of God and participates in the divine power. He has in his hands the history of the world. In this way, the visionary wishes to tell us: Have confidence in Jesus, do not be afraid of opposing powers, of persecution! The wounded and dead Lamb conquers! Follow Jesus, the Lamb, trust Jesus, follow his way! Even if in this world he seems to be the weak Lamb, he is the victor!

The object of one of the principal visions of Revelation is this Lamb at the moment he opens a book, which before was sealed with seven seals, which no one was able to open. John is even presented weeping, as no one could be found able to open the book and read it (cf. Revelation 5:4). History appears as undecipherable, incomprehensible. No one can read it.

Perhaps this weeping of John before the very dark mystery of history expresses the disconcertment of the Asian Churches because of God’s silence in the face of the persecutions to which they were exposed at that time. It is a disconcertment which might well reflect our surprise in the face of the grave difficulties, misunderstandings and hostilities that the Church also suffers today in several parts of the world.

They are sufferings which the Church certainly does not deserve, as Jesus did not deserve punishment either. However, they reveal both man’s maliciousness, when he allows himself to be led by the snares of evil, as well as the higher governance of events by God. So, only the immolated Lamb is capable of opening the sealed book and of revealing its content, to give meaning to this history which, apparently, often seems so absurd.

He alone can draw pointers and teachings for the life of Christians, to whom his victory over death brings the announcement and guarantee of the victory that they also, without a doubt, will attain. All the language John uses, charged with strong images, tends to offer this consolation.

At the center of the vision that Revelation presents is the extremely significant image of the Woman, who gives birth to a male Child, and the complementary vision of the Dragon, which has fallen from the heavens, but is still very powerful. This Woman represents Mary, the Mother of the Redeemer, but she represents at the same time the whole Church, the People of God of all times, the Church that at all times, with great pain, again gives birth to Christ. And she is always threatened by the power of the Dragon. She seems defenseless, weak.

But, while she is threatened, pursued by the Dragon, she is also protected by God’s consolation. And this Woman, at the end, is victorious. The Dragon does not conquer. This is the great prophecy of this book, which gives us confidence! The Woman who suffers in history, the Church which is persecuted, at the end is presented as the splendid Bride, image of the new Jerusalem, in which there is no more tears or weeping, image of the world transformed, of the new world whose light is God himself, whose lamp is the Lamb.

For this reason, John’s Revelation, though full of constant references to sufferings, tribulations and weeping — the dark face of history — at the same time presents frequent songs of praise, which represent, so to speak, the luminous face of history.

For example, it speaks of an immense crowd that sings almost shouting: “Alleluia! The Lord has established his reign, (our) God, the almighty. Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory. For the wedding day of the Lamb has come, his bride has made herself ready” (Revelation 19:6-7). We are before the typical Christian paradox, according to which, suffering is never perceived as the last word; rather it is seen as a passing moment to happiness and, what is more, the latter is already mysteriously permeated with the joy that springs from hope.

Therefore, John, the seer of Patmos, can end his book with a final aspiration, in which an ardent hope palpitates. He invokes the Lord’s final coming: “Come, Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:20). It is one of the central prayers of nascent Christianity, translated also by St. Paul in Aramaic: “Marana tha.” And this prayer, “Come, Lord Jesus!” (1 Corinthians 16:22) has several dimensions.

Above all it implies, of course, the awaiting of the Lord’s definitive victory, of the new Jerusalem, of the Lord who comes and transforms the world. But, at the same time, it is also a Eucharistic prayer: “Come, Jesus, now!” And Jesus comes, he anticipates his definitive coming. In this way, with joy, let us say at the same time: “Come now and come definitively!” This prayer also has a third meaning: “You have already come, Lord! We are certain of your presence among us. For us it is a joyful experience. But, come definitively!” Thus, with St. Paul, with the seer of Patmos, with nascent Christianity, we also pray: “Come, Jesus! Come and transform the world! Come now, today, and may peace conquer!” Amen.

Father Cantalamessa

ROME, NOV. 17, 2006 (Zenit.org) – A translation of a commentary by the Pontifical Household preacher, Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, on the readings from this Sunday’s liturgy.

33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (b) Daniel 12:1-3; Hebrews 10:11-14, 18; Mark 13:24-32

The Gospel of the second to last Sunday of the liturgical year is the classic text on the end of the world. There has always been someone who has taken it upon themselves to wave this page of the Gospel in the face of their contemporaries and provoke psychosis and fear. My advice is to be calm and to not let yourself be in the least bit troubled by these visions of catastrophe.

Just read the last line of the same Gospel passage: “But of that day or hour, no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” If neither the angels nor the Son (insofar as he is man and not insofar as he is God) know the day or hour of the end, is it possible that a member of some sect or some religious fanatic would know and be authorized to announce it? In the Gospel Jesus assures us of the fact of his return and the gathering his chosen ones from the “four winds”; the when and the how of his return (on the clouds between the darkening of the sun and the falling of the stars) is part of the figurative language of the literary genre of these discourses.

Another observation might help explain certain pages of the Gospel. When we talk about the end of the world on the basis of the understanding of time that we have today, we immediately think of the absolute end of the world, after which there can be nothing but eternity. But the Bible goes about its reasoning with relative and historical categories more than with absolute and metaphysical ones. Thus, when the Bible speaks of the end of the world, it intends quite often the concrete world, that which in fact exists for and is known by a certain group of people, their world. It is, in sum, the end of a world that is being treated not the end of the world, even if the two perspectives at times intertwine.

Jesus says: “This generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place.” Is he mistaken? No, it was the world that was known to his hearers that passed away, the Jewish world. It tragically passed away with the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. When, in 410, the Vandals sacked Rome, many great figures of the time thought that it was the end of the world. They were not all that wrong; one world did end, the one created by Rome with its empire. In this sense, those who, with the destruction of the twin towers on September 11, 2001, thought of the end of the world, were not mistaken.

None of this diminishes the seriousness of the Christian charge but only deepens it. It would be the greatest foolishness to console oneself by saying that no one knows when the end of the world will be and forgetting that, for any of us, it could be this very night. For this reason Jesus concludes today’s Gospel with the recommendation that we “be vigilant because no one knows when the exact moment will be.”

We must, I think, completely change the attitude with which we listen to these Gospels that speak of the end of the world and the return of Christ. We must no longer regard as a punishment and a veiled threat that which the Scriptures call “the blessed hope” of Christians, that is, the return of our Lord Jesus Christ (Titus 2:13). The mistaken idea we have of God must be corrected. The recurrent talk about the end of the world which is often engaged in by those with a distorted religious sentiment, has a devastating effect on many people. It reinforces the idea of a God who is always angry, ready to vent his wrath on the world. But this is not the God of the Bible which a psalm describes as “merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, who will not always accuse or keep his anger forever…because he knows that we are made of dust” (Psalm 103:8-14).

Father Cantalamessa: “Satan Exists, and Christ Defeated Him”

Gospel Commentary for 1st Sunday of Lent

By Father Raniero Cantalamessa, OFM Cap (the Pontifical Household preacher)
The readings for this First Sunday of lent are Genesis 2:7-9; 3:1-7; Romans 5:12-19; Matthew 4:1-11. Father Cantalamessa’s commentary follows:

“Demons, Satanism and other related phenomena are quite topical today, and they disturb a great part of our society. Our technological and industrialized world is filled with magicians, wizards, occultism, spiritualism, fortune tellers, spell trafficking, amulets, as well as very real Satanic sects. Chased away from the door, the devil has come in through the window. Chased away by the faith, he has returned by way of superstition.

The episode of Jesus’ temptations in the desert that is read on the First Sunday of Lent helps us to have some clarity on this subject. First of all, do demons exist? That is, does the word “demon” truly indicate some personal being with intelligence and will, or is it simply a symbol, a manner of speaking that refers to the sum of the world’s moral evil, the collective unconscious, collective alienation, etc.? Many intellectuals do not believe in demons in the first sense. But it must be noted that many great writers, such as Goethe and Dostoyevsky, took Satan’s existence very seriously. Baudelaire, who was certainly no angel, said that “the demon’s greatest trick is to make people believe that he does not exist.”

The principal proof of the existence of demons in the Gospels is not the numerous healings of possessed people, since ancient beliefs about the origins of certain maladies may have had some influence on the interpretation of these happenings. The proof is Jesus’ temptation by the demon in the desert. The many saints who in their lives battled against the prince of darkness are also proof. They are not like “Don Quixote,” tilting at windmills. On the contrary, they were very down-to-earth, psychologically healthy people.

If many people find belief in demons absurd, it is because they take their beliefs from books, they pass their lives in libraries and at desks; but demons are not interested in books, they are interested in persons, especially, and precisely, saints. How could a person know anything about Satan if he has never encountered the reality of Satan, but only the idea of Satan in cultural, religious and ethnological traditions? They treat this question with great certainty and a feeling of superiority, doing away with it all as so much “medieval obscurantism.” But it is a false certainty. It is like someone who brags about not being afraid of lions and proves this by pointing out that he has seen many paintings and pictures of lions and was never frightened by them. On the other hand, it is entirely normal and consistent for those who do not believe in God to not believe in the devil. It would be quite tragic for someone who did not believe in God to believe in the devil!

Yet the most important thing that the Christian faith has to tell us is not that demons exist, but that Christ has defeated them. For Christians, Christ and demons are not two equal, but rather contrary principles, as certain dualistic religions believe to be the case with good and evil. Jesus is the only Lord; Satan is only a creature “gone bad.” If power over men is given to Satan, it is because men have the possibility of freely choosing sides and also to keep them from being too proud (cf. 2 Corinthians 12:7), believing themselves to be self-sufficient and without need of any redeemer. “Old Satan is crazy,” goes an African-American spiritual. “He shot me to destroy my soul, but missed and destroyed my sin instead.”

With Christ we have nothing to fear. Nothing and no one can do us ill, unless we ourselves allow it. Satan, said an ancient Father of the Church, after Christ’s coming, is like a dog chained up in the barnyard: He can bark and lunge as much as he wants, but if we don’t go near him, he cannot harm us. In the desert Jesus freed himself from Satan to free us! This is the joyous news with which we begin our Lenten journey toward Easter.”

Father Cantalamessa: “Homily on the Trinity”

ROME (Zenit) – Why do Christians believe in the Trinity? Is it not hard enough to believe that God exists without having to add the puzzle about God being “one and three?” There are some today who would not be upset if we dropped the Trinity. For one thing, they would say, it would help dialogue with the Jews and Muslims, who profess faith in a God who is strictly one.

The answer is that Christians believe that God is triune because they believe that God is love. If God is love, then he must love someone. There is no such thing as love of nothing, a love that is not directed at anyone. So we ask: Who is it that God loves so that he is defined as love? A first answer might be that God loves us! But men have only existed for a few million years. Who did God love before that? God could not have begun to love at a certain point in time because God cannot change. Another answer might be that before he loved us, he loved the cosmos, the universe. But the universe has only existed for a few billion years. Who did God love before that so that he was defined as love? We cannot say that God loved himself because self-love is not love, but egoism, or, as the psychologists say, narcissism. How does Christian revelation answer this question? God is love in himself, before time, because there is eternally in him a Son, the Word, whom he loves from an infinite love which is the Holy Spirit. In every love there are always three realities or subjects: one who loves, one who is loved and the love that unites them. Where God is understood as absolute power, there is no need for there to be more than one person, for power can be exercised quite well by one person; but if God is understood as absolute love, then it cannot be this way.

Theology has used the term “nature” or “substance” to indicate unity in God and it has used the term “person” to indicate a distinction. Because of this we say that our God is one God in three persons. The Christian doctrine of the Trinity is not a regression, a compromise between monotheism and polytheism. On the contrary, it is a step forward for the human mind that could only be brought about by God.

The contemplation of the Trinity can have an important impact on our human life. The life of the Trinity is a mystery of relation. The divine persons are defined in theology as “subsistent relations.” This means that the divine persons do not “have” relations, but rather “are” relations. We human beings have relations — of son to father, of wife to husband, etc. — but we are not constituted by those relations; we also exist outside and without them. It is not this way with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We know that happiness and unhappiness on earth depend in large part upon the quality of our relationships. The Trinity reveals the secret to good relationships. Love, in its different forms, is what makes relationships beautiful, free and gratifying. Here we see how important it is that God be seen primarily as love and not as power: love gives, power dominates. That which poisons a relationship is the will to dominate another person, to possess or use that person instead of welcoming and giving ourselves to him or her.

It should be added that the Christian God is one and three. This, therefore, is also the feast of the unity of God, not just God as Trinity. We Christians believe “in one God,” but the unity that we believe in is unity of nature not of number. It resembles more the unity of the family than that of the individual, more the unity of the cell than that of the atom. The first reading [Exodus 34:4b-6.8-9] presents us the biblical God as “merciful and gracious, slow to anger and rich in kindness.” This is the principal trait that the God of the Bible, the God of Islam and the God (or rather the religion) of Buddhism have in common, and which provides the best basis for dialogue and cooperation among the great religions. Every sura of the Quran begins with the following invocation: “In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.” In Buddhism, which does not know a personal, creator God, the basis is anthropological and cosmic: Man must be merciful on account of the solidarity and responsibility that binds him to all living things. The holy wars of the past and the religious terrorism of the present are a betrayal and not an apologia of one’s faith. How can one kill in the name of a God that one continues to proclaim as “the Merciful” and “the Compassionate”? This is the most urgent task of interreligious dialogue that believers in all religions must pursue for the sake of peace and for the good of humanity.

Charles Homer Giblin

Scott Hahn

Monsignor Francesco Spadafora

d. March 10, 1997, at the age of 84

Ges� e la fine di Gerusalemme (Jesus and the Destruction of Jerusalem). This work deals solely with Jesus’ prophecy concerning the destruction of Jerusalem, without any references or allusions to the end of the world. Fr. Beno�t, in his review published in Revue Biblique (#59, 1952, starting on p.119), wrote that he found “this exegesis to be excellent,” and he “approved of it completely.” C. Spicq, in Revue des Sciences Philosophiques et Th�ologiques (#36, 1951), applauded the work, saying that its “necessity will increase as time goes on.”



One hundred years after Pope Leo XIII‘s Providentissimus Deus (Nov.10, 1893), and fifty years after Pius XII‘s Divino Afflante Spiritu, (Sept. 30, 1943), the Pontifical Biblical Commission has developed a synthesis of the two encyclicals. Msgr. Gianfranco Ravasi, a spokesman and member of the Pontifical Biblical Commission, presents an outline of this so-called “precious document” being published by the Pontifical Biblical Commission (see the journal Ges�, Oct. 1993, pp.45-50). Ravasi sees Providentissimus Deus, “apologetic” in nature, as the thesis, and Divino Afflante Spiritu, “entirely oriented toward the exaltation of authentic scientific exegesis,” as the antithesis.

While presenting this new document, Ravasi unintentionally casts a shadow over both the reformed Biblical Commission and its members (who are not cardinals as in the past, but exegetes thinking along the same lines as Ravasi):

Incidentally, let us remember that…at the beginning of Vatican Council II, when two Roman ecclesiastics, Romeo and Spadafora [the goodies], launched a virulent attack against the Biblical Institute, they succeeded in bringing about the suspension of two great professors: the Jesuits Lyonnet and Zerwick [the baddies]. Paul VI reinstated them in their teaching functions, and I had the good fortune of being the student of these two extraordinary men of research and of faith�.

The Holy Father addresses the solemn convocation commemorating the centenary of Providentissimus Deus and the 50th anniversary of Divino Afflante Spiritu


Thus, while Ravasi showers unmerited praise upon Zerwick and Lyonnet, whose “faith” was clearly manifested after the Council in their denial of the fundamental truths of Catholicism, he unfairly casts blame upon Romeo and Spadafora. It is therefore fitting, first of all, that the truth be known about Romeo and Spadafora, who are painted in such bad light by Ravasi.


Here is what Spadafora himself wrote about Msgr. Antonio Romeo, after the death of the Biblical Institute professor, in Palestra del Clero, (#21, 1978):

Born in Reggio Calabria on June 8, 1902, he [Romeo] completed his secondary studies at the famous St. Michaels’s School in Fribourg, Switzerland, where he learned both German and French. For his theological studies, he went to the Regional Seminary of St. Pius X at Catanzaro, and was ordained a priest on December 20, 1924. In 1927, after completing the course of studies offered at the Pontifical Biblical Institute, he immediately returned to the Seminary at Catanzaro, where he taught Sacred Scripture from 1927 to 1934. Being in great demand in the Dioceses, he was named Pro-Vicar General in Reggio Calabria. On January 1, 1938, at the Sacred Congregation for Seminaries and Universities, he began his studies in Rome, producing an excellent body of hidden work over a period of more than thirty-four years.

In the introduction to his fine work, The Present and the Future in Biblical Revelation (1964, starting on p.xxxiv), Msgr. Romeo writes the following:

My gratitude goes out to the unforgettable students who took my courses at the Regional Seminaries in Calabria. In brotherly collaboration, I spent the happiest years of my priestly life with them examining the Holy Scriptures. I thank them all, and it is to them that I dedicate this volume, which is a faint reflection of Eternal Truth – a Truth which they sought to penetrate and contemplate in Biblical revelation.

In these few lines we catch a glimpse of the supernatural spirit and the keen sense of modesty of this great master. The undersigned was one of those students who, after having finished his theological studies in Catanzaro and Posilipo, followed the path of his venerable master by attending the Pontifical Biblical Institute from 1936 to 1939.

It was to him that I dedicated my first exegetical work, which was the translation and commentary of the Book of the Prophet Ezechiel (1948). In the book’s dedication, I wrote: ‘To my professor, Msgr. Antonio Romeo, to whom I owe my beginnings, as well as my fervor in studying Holy Scripture.” I thus expressed my profound gratitude for having received a solid foundation in hermeneutics, Biblical inspiration, scriptural exegesis, Hebrew, and Biblical Greek.

Members of the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See
at the solemn convocation


Concerning Msgr. Spadafora himself, we mention three of his works from amongst many other writings in scientific exegesis and historical criticism:

1) his commentary on the book of Ezichiel, and its translation from the original (Marietti 1948, 357 pages, 2nd ed. 1950). In Revue Biblique (#57, 1950), Fr. R. J. Tournay, O.P., states the following in his review of the commentary:

Next to the commentary itself, which is quite developed, especially in the area of literary criticism, the author has formulated a critical apparatus that sometimes surpasses the importance of the commentary itself. Specialists will find in this work a great number of interesting observations and references. This work deserves to be placed among the best commentaries on Ezechiel.

2) Ges� e la fine di Gerusalemme (Jesus and the Destruction of Jerusalem). This work deals solely with Jesus’ prophecy concerning the destruction of Jerusalem, without any references or allusions to the end of the world. Fr. Beno�t, in his review published in Revue Biblique (#59, 1952, starting on p.119), wrote that he found “this exegesis to be excellent,” and he “approved of it completely.” C. Spicq, in Revue des Sciences Philosophiques et Th�ologiques (#36, 1951), applauded the work, saying that its “necessity will increase as time goes on.”

3) Pilato(IPAG, Rovigo 1973, 215 pages). Fr. Bernini, SJ., a former professor of Sacred scripture at Gregorian University, wrote the following in his review published in Civilt� Cattolica (March 6, 1976, p.519):

The well-known exegete from the Pontifical University of the Lateran, exercising his extraordinary erudition, and using his skills in examining problems in literary and historical criticism, wished to examine the old problem of Pontius Pilate…

With the goal of establishing the historicity of the Gospel of Matthew, and of demonstrating how the Jewish sources referring to Pilate are without foundation.

The book was written with ease and agility – indeed, with the erudition of a true master.


Having established the identity of the various persons involved, let us now turn our attention to the facts of the case.

Starting around 1950, the students of the Pontifical Biblical Institute began informing Msgr. Romeo about the “novelties” that some of the Jesuits there were teaching them concerning the nature of the divine inspiration of the Sacred Books. They were taught that inspiration was no longer considered to be personal, but collective, and that inerrance was limited only to passages concerning dogma. Such novelties were closely linked to the acceptance of the latest rationalist systems (Bultmann-Dibelius) of Formengeschichte and Redaktiongeschichte, which were based on the denial of the authenticity and historicity of the Gospels.

At the Institute, Leone Algisi and Luigi Moraldi, both of whom eventually left the priesthood, were among those who boasted about these novelties, claiming that they were taught by Pius XII himself in the Encyclical Divino Afflante Spiritu (1943). These same ideas are now being peddled by Romano Penna, Gianfranco Ravasi, and other former students from the Pontifical Biblical Institute.


In those years, Msgr. Romeo was a compiler in Sacred Scripture for the Enciclopedia Cattolica. He entrusted the expression “Original Sin” to Msgr. Spadafora, who was a professor at the Lateran, saying, “the students of the Biblical Institute tell me that Fr. Lyonnet has developed an original exegesis for Romans 5:12.” Spadafora then called upon Fr. Lyonnet, his former classmate (1936-1939), who allowed him to read his interpretation of the above passage.

The years passed by, and on September 3, 1960, in La Civilt� Cattolica (pp.449-460), Alonso Sch�kel, S.J., came up with eleven pages of gratuitous assertions in which he pretended to justify the “novelties” that had already been taught for years at the Pontifical Biblical Institute, attributing them to Pius XII‘s Divino Afflante Spiritu, (which he tried to place in opposition to Leo XIII‘s Providentissimus Deus).


It was in this manner that the Pontifical Biblical Institute unveiled its designs. Its new program consisted in a radical shift that went against all the directives given by the Magisterium on Catholic exegesis. In this program, the Jesuits at the Institute had adopted the two latest rationalist methods which were then in fashion, pretending that the changes were attributable to Pius XII. They did this by interpreting Divino Afflante Spiritu in their own way, and by ignoring Humani Generis altogether. According to these new systems, all dogmatic principles were pushed aside, Biblical science became purely philological and historical in nature, and the wall separating Catholics and rationalist Protestants was torn down.


The reaction of the Roman exegetes took shape in Msgr. Romeo‘s erudite critical study, “The Encyclical Divino Afflante Spiritu and the Opiniones Novae” in Divinitas (#4, 1966, pp.378-456}, in which he states the following:

Today, after the death of the great Pius XII, and with seventeen years of hindsight [since the publication of Divino Affiante Spiritu], Fr. Alonso tells us that there was a novelty, a transformation, introduced by Divino Affiante Spiritu that will: “open up a new, wide path.” We find nothing in the documents of Pius XII and John XXIII…even remotely suggesting that novelties, an opening of doors, or new liberties were conceded by the Supreme Magisterium in 1943.

This was the central theme of Msgr. Romeo‘s article. He wished to demonstrate the continuity of the Supreme Magisterium on the question by examining various documents, beginning with Humani Generis. He then brought forth evidence which had been: “authorized first hand, and which could be called unofficial.” This evidence was the very explicit commentary on Divino Afflante Spiritu by Cardinal Agostino Bea, who was at that time Rector of the Pontifical Biblical Institute. This commentary, which was published in La Civilt� Cattolica (#94, 1943-1944, pp.212-224), seems to have been completely ignored by Fr. Alonso.

In conclusion, Msgr. Romeo wrote that: 

…there is therefore absolutely nothing, not even a chance indication of any kind in the Encyclical…, nor is there anything in Cardinal Bea’s authorized commentary that indicates this [and in fact, his commentary was probably authorized, since Fr. Bea was advisor to the Holy Office and confessor to Pius XII. Nothing in these documents could substantiate the opinion being circulated…that this great Encyclical had broken with the previous directives of the Supreme Magisterium, or that it had the intention of giving a new orientation to Catholic exegesis.

In any case, it is clear, for anyone reading Divino Affiante Spiritu, (and it becomes even clearer when studying Humani Generis), that the Biblical Encyclical of the great Pius XII adheres completely to Providentissimus, which it confirms, expands upon, and clarifies on various points; and it is, indeed, through Providentissimus that we are linked to the spirit, the principles, and the norms of uninterrupted Tradition on the veneration of the Word of God, through strict and arduous exegetical work.

Spadafora intervened at this point, writing an article for Divinitas (#2, 1960, pp.289-298), entitled Romans 5:12: Exegeses and Dogmatic Reflections. The article had been requested by Cardinal Parente, assessor to the Holy Office, in response to Fr. Stanislas Lyonnet‘s article “Le p�ch� originel et l’ex�g�se de Rm. 5:12” (“Original Sin and the Exegesis of Romans 5:12”}, published in Recherches de Sciences Religieuses (Research in Religious Science, #44, 1956, pp.63-84).

As we have already said, Spadafora had examined this document some years before. Upon returning it to Fr. Lyonnet, he brought it to the latter’s attention that the exegesis proposed was untenable, since it was irreconcilable with Catholic doctrine.

In response to Cardinal Parente’s request, Msgr. Spadafora refuted point by point the various arguments put forth by Lyonnet, who tried to prove that the passage from Romans 5:12 (“Wherefore as by one man sin entered into this world, and by sin death; and so death passed upon all men, in whom all have sinned.”) was not to be taken as an affirmation of Original Sin, but to mean, rather, that “all have sinned” in “imitation of Adam.” He would have us believe that this passage refers only to personal sins, whereas the entire context (5:12-20) clearly states that “by the offense of one…many were made sinners.”

There was something even more grievous about the novelties proposed by Lyonnet – namely, that the meaning of Romans 5:12 had already been solemnly defined by the Council of Trent in two canons on Original Sin.

In order to make a judgment in this case, the Holy Office intervened by imposing silence on the two parties, who were asked to present their respective arguments. After hearing both sides, the Holy Office suspended Lyonnet and Zerwick from teaching, and had them leave Rome. Then on June 20, 1961, the Supreme Congregation of the Holy Office published the following Monitum (warning or admonition), primarily in order to defend the historicity of the Canonical Gospels:

While the study of Biblical subjects is being actively developed, opinions and judgments are circulating in various places that endanger the historical and objective truth of Holy Scripture, not only for the Old Testament (something which the Sovereign Pontiff Pius XII had lamented in the encyclical Humani Generis, cf. A.A.S.) but also for the New Testament; and sometimes these opinions even concern the words and acts of Christ Jesus. Since opinions and judgments such as these are of such great concern to pastors and to the faithful, the most eminent Fathers, who are the overseers of the defense and doctrine of the Faith and of morals, have considered it their duty to warn all those who treat of Holy Scriptures, in writing or in speech, to handle such grave questions with the respect that is due to them. They ask that they might take into consideration the doctrines of the Fathers, the mind of the Church and of the Magisterium, so that the consciences of the faithful are not offended.


This monitum of the Holy Office, and the measures taken against the Jesuits Lyonnet and Zerwick, should have swept away any modernist interpretations of the Encyclical Divino Afflante Spiritu. It should have given a death blow to those overtures being made to the “history of forms” (Formengeschichte) and to the “history of redaction” (Redaktiongeschichte), which are Protestant in nature, and which spring from the “negation of historical and objective truth” of the “words and acts of Jesus Christ.” On the contrary, the Council, the pontificate of Paul VI, and the period after the Council brought about a complete change of course in favor of modernism.

Courrier de Rome, April 1994


1950 Gesu e la fine di Gerusalemme [24] (Quaderni esegetici). Rovigo: Instituto Padano di Arti Grafiche, 1950, xxii-136 p.

1951 Le tentazioni di Gesu. – PalCl 30 (1951) 337-346

1958 Montevergine: Il Santuario L.anthemis e il “giglio dei campi” di cui parla l’evangelo.  [6, 25-34] – PalCl 37 (1958) 1277-1279. [NIA 3, 584]

1961 Le due genealogie di Gesu. – Rossi, G. (ed), Cento problemi biblici, 1961, 305-307.

1961 Sulla Stella dei Magi. Mt. 2,1-12. – PalCl 40 (1961) 946-949; = Id., Attualita Bibliche, 1964, 348-356

1961 La seconda beatitudine nel testo e contesto evangelico. [5,4] – Tabor (Roma) 30 (1961) 101-109.

1976 Leone XIII e gli  studi biblici. Rovigo : Instituto Padano di arti grafiche, 1976.