Archbishop of Lima Says Jesus Was a Layman

January 04, 2022
The splendid vaults of the cathedral of Lima.

Msgr. Carlos Castillo Mattasoglio, Archbishop of Lima, Peru, said during a Mass on December 19, 2021, that Jesus was a layman and that his death was not a sacrifice.

Here are his own words: “And Jesus did not die offering the sacrifice of a holocaust, Jesus died as a murdered layman; he decided not to respond with revenge and he accepted the cross to give us a sign of life,” the archbishop said during mass in the Lima Cathedral.

He added: “And he died as a layman who gives hope to humanity, he died as a human being like all of you who are present here, we too, because we cannot be priests without first being baptized laymen.”

In an attempt to explain his words, Msgr. Castillo clarified that “layman comes from [the Greek word] laos, which means people. And God wanted to sanctify His people, and if we are here, it is to serve them. The prelate recalled that God had promised Israel that out of his people “would come forth an offspring who would be the Savior.”

“The poor people of Israel, those who do not count, took it to heart, while the priests felt that they had to fulfill the promise,” that he had to assume their role, but “it was not them who were going to represent salvation, but a layman, a layman like the kings who were laity, of the tribe of Judah,” continued Msgr. Castillo.

“I also say this for our fellow priests here present. We are the servants of the people of God, so that from you (the people) there may arise someone who is hope, just as Jesus is hope,” the bishop concluded.

If one seeks to give an orthodox meaning to the words of the Archbishop of Lima, there is only one possibility: “Jesus died as a layman according to the Old Testament,” and “Jesus did not die offering an Old Testament sacrifice.” By these details, the sentences may be acceptable.

But these two propositions are absolutely obvious, and do nothing for the understanding of Christ, of His mission, and of His sacrifice. For Christ is the High Priest of the New Testament. And the death of Christ is a sacrifice: it is the one and only sacrifice of the New Covenant.

The priesthood of Christ is found explicitly affirmed in revelation: in the prophecies of the Old Testament and by the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews (cf. Mt 22:43, and Ps 109). So all theologians are unanimous in affirming that the priesthood of Christ is imposed on us as a truth of divine and Catholic faith.

This truth was affirmed at the Council of Ephesus and by the Council of Trent, Session 23, ch. 1, DzS 1739. The ordinary magisterium of the Church, which is expressed in the liturgy, in the rites of ordination, in the celebration of Mass, in the recitation of the Divine Office, proclaims with force and eloquence that Christ is the priest of our religion and our pontiff for eternity.

The sacrifice by which Christ exercises His priesthood is the sacrifice of the cross and that of the Eucharist. Through His priesthood, Christ is not only put in touch with God, but He is placed as a mediator between God and men.

Thus, even if Bishop Castillo's statements may have a true meaning, they sin seriously by the omission of a capital and essential truth of the New Testament: Jesus Christ is Savior because He is priest and victim of the Sacrifice which redeems us.