1. My very learned friend James Likoudis, President of Catholics United for the Faith, is right to call the late Monika K. Hellwig a Modernist. I have the 2002 second edition her book Understanding Catholicism, and it’s hard to read it without thinking that she teaches some of the Modernist errors condemned in the 7/3/1907 encyclical Lamentibili Sane of Pope St. Pius X of Rome. Many of her statements seem infected with a disturbing ambiguity, and I was scandalized today when I read the following in Chapter 5: “The Death of Jesus, Our Liberation,” pp. 88-89. I give the full context and have emboldened the poisonous statements:
Though the role of Messiah was in the first place a religious idea, the term was bound to be of interest to the Roman conquerors because it could be applied to a military leader, and indeed there were from time to time claimants to messiahship who tried to organize a rebellion. Actually, it appears that Jesus himself did not claim the role of Messiah during his lifetime. It was his disciples who later used that as the preferred and most common title, so that we know him as Christ (which means Messiah) almost as though that had been his surname, and it seems to us that he must always have been so named. If Jesus himself did not claim the title of Messiah, that may have been done for several reasons.
2. The 28th proposition the great Pope St. Pius X condemns reads, “While He was exercising His ministry, Jesus did not speak with the object of teaching He was the Messias…” However, on p. 89 Hellwig says, “Secondly, he was not concerned with claiming any titles, because his focus was not on himself but on the coming reign of God among human persons.”
3. How can we take seriously someone who, while claiming to explain the teaching of the Church, doubts whether Christ called Himself the Messiah during His life on earth? Jn 4:25-26 says, “The woman said to him, ‘I know that the Messiah is coming, the one called the Anointed; when He comes, He will tell us everything.’ Jesus said to her, ‘I am He, the One Who is speaking with you.'” Recall also what our Lord said in front of the High Priest in Mk 14:61-62. St. Mark the Evangelist (†4/25/68) narrates, “But He was silent and answered nothing. Again the high priest asked Him and said to Him, ‘Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?’ Then Jesus answered, ‘I am; and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power and coming with the clouds of Heaven.”