Tuesday, December 13, 2005

St. John the Baptist, Prophets Killed for Calumny, Rash Judgment, Say Catholic Scholars

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JERUSALEM -- Although he has been seen for centuries as a wise man and prophet, St. John the Baptist may have in reality been guilty of calumny, detraction and rash judgment when he called King Herod "a sinner," according to two Catholic scholars.

"According to my research, St. John the Baptist was beheaded because of the shame and scandal he brought King Herrod and his family," said Fr. Peter Drucker, an analyst for the Catholic Historical Alliance (CHA), a non-profit organization committed to researching and preserving Church history. "He didn't know for sure what King Herrod was doing behind closed doors. Then, he told so many people about the account that it got back to the gospel writers, and Herrod's reputation was smeared forever. Calumny is a serious sin. Check your catechism."

According to historical accounts and Biblical accounts, St. John the Baptist told King Herrod he was sinning by involving himself in an adulterous relationship. King Herrod, who was already married, supposedly began an affair with his niece, Herodias. Biblical narratives show that, later, when Herodias' daughter, Salome, danced for King Herrod, he was so pleased, he vowed to give her anything she wanted. Salome consulted her mother, who said she should ask for John the Baptist's head.

"He definitely sealed his own fate by calling Herrod a sinner," said Fr. Allan Swinton, of the CHA. "Plus, Herrod married his wife strictly for political reasons. So, the marriage probably wasn't valid anyway, and when he fell in love withHerodias that was probably God's way of saying 'she's the one.' The marriage doesn't look valid to me, and if there was no valid marriage, there was no adultery, right? As priests, one of our jobs is to prove a marriage is invalid until proven otherwise."

Critics are now considering what effect these new discoveries may have on various causes for canonization. Swinton points out that Dorothy Day once wrote that birth control and abortion were "genocide" and Mother Theresa accused Americans of aborting babies because they are incompatible with materialistic lifestyles. "Surely they had certain people in mind when they said this," said Fr. Swinton."They may even have addressed individual people with these statements. You've got to admit that is not giving people the benefit of the doubt, and they are pretty rash judgments to boot."

According to Frs. Drucker and Swinton, many Old Testament Prophets were most likely killed for being judgmental.

"It's a shame," said Drucker. "If many of these men had just given others the benefit of the doubt, they may have lived a little bit longer."

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