Wednesday, 15 April 2015


Cardinal Antonio Rouco recently resigned as the Archbishop of Madrid but just months later, though, he is as controversial a figure as ever, drawing fierce criticism from many Catholics for his behaviour since retiring and in particular for leading what they say is a ludicrously lavish lifestyle. The outrage has focused on the luxury apartment in central Madrid into which Rouco moved in February.


According to media reports, it is worth ¤1.7 million, has six bedrooms and four bathrooms and is situated next to the Almudena cathedral and the royal palace.
“Isn’t there somewhere more discreet for him to retire to?” wrote José Lorenzo in Vida Nueva, the influential religious weekly magazine he edits. “Why did nobody warn him of the embarrassment this would cause him and the damage it would inflict on the church’s image?”
Paid for by church
The flat in question is paid for by the Spanish church, which annually receives about ¤250 million directly from government income tax revenues and much more from other state sources.
Others have been more vocal in their criticism. Fe Adulta, a website run for and by the clergy, is gathering signatures in a campaign to move Rouco out of his new home.
By yesterday, the petition had about 1,500 signatures, reportedly all belonging to church members. The site has also called for supporters to stage an escrache – a noisy protest normally aimed at vilified politicians – outside the apartment today.

After becoming archbishop of Madrid in 1994, Rouco (78) became one of the most powerful religious figures in recent Spanish history, presiding over the national episcopal conference for 12 years.
His conservative views and outspokenness made him a divisive political figure. He has repeatedly warned that Spain’s Catholic Church is persecuted by leftist secularism; he has also railed against gay marriage, abortion and onlychild families. Of the country’s economic problems, he has said: “We won’t get out of this crisis if we don’t convert and turn our lives towards God.”
Although Rouco was past the 75-year age limit commonly imposed on archbishops when he retired, many observers believe he wanted to continue in the post much longer and he refused to move out of his official residence for several months after stepping down. His replacement as archbishop of Madrid – the moderate Carlos Osoro – is seen as evidence of a poor relationship with the Vatican.
“Rouco is among the cardinals who are most opposed to Pope Francis’s so-called ‘spring’,” says José Manuel Vidal, biographer of Rouco and editor of the Catholic publication Religión Digital.
Vidal says Rouco’s resistance to his retirement and the Madrid apartment furore have angered the Vatican and hindered its attempts to win over Spaniards.
“The Spanish church is trying to change its image, it’s trying to get in step with Pope Francis,” he told The Irish Times, “but gestures like Rouco’s remind society of that old cliché that the church isn’t on the side of the poor, it’s on the side of the rich, that it’s powerful and has privileges.”
About three-quarters of Spaniards describe themselves as Catholics, although of those, two-thirds say they rarely or never go to Mass.
Amid the storm of opprobrium, though, some of the former archbishop’s allies have come out to defend him.
“Rouco needs a house with certain qualities and comforts,” said the Valladolid archbishop Ricardo Blázquez. “He is a figure of huge significance in the church and in society and who, therefore, has to host certain people and have the infrastructure with which to receive them in a normal way.”

Tuesday, 14 April 2015



Noel Treanor

Parishioners tell me that he was there EVERY DAY during the Holy Week / Easter Triduum and that he was even back at the cathedral to celebrate the Sunday Mass this Sunday past at 9 am.

Its almost as if Bishop Treanor himself has taken over from Father Dallat as the "assistant priest" to the cathedral "dean" - Father Hugh Kennedy. 

Of course it is an excellent thing that any bishop is regularly in his cathedral and in fact I think that it would be good if Bishop Treanor moved into St Peter's and took a very active role in its daily ceremonies. 

I am sure that "Dean" Kennedy would even leave the administrator's suite for a lesser apartment and allow Bishop Noel to live in the premier suite.

"Dean" Kennedy

In fact way back in 1983 I suggested to Bishop Cahal Daly that he would leave the palace on the Somerton Road and move to the cathedral. 

He greeted my suggestion with a face that showed shock and alarm and said: "If I lived on the Lower Falls Road important people would not come and see me there".

By important people I think he meant the politicians, lesser British royals, British Army generals and high ranking RUC officers would not feel safe visiting him there. 

But to my mind the REALLY IMPORTANT PEOPLE were the people of St Peter's and The Falls and as I told him: "If those people would not come and see you in your cathedral and among your own people, then perhaps they are not worth having as visitors"? You can imagine how popular that made me with him. 

But I'm sure that now that wee Cahal is sharing Heaven with all those plebs from The Falls he is now sorry that he did not live with them on earth?

Cahal in Paradise

After all Jesus lived with his disciples. I'm sure they ate and slept in friendly people's houses and even in the open air. 

So I would have thought that what was good enough for Jesus (who was God) would be good enough for bishops? 

I must have got that wrong?

I have also received an update on Father Dallat's movements. He seems not to have departed on that retreat and counselling course yet - because he has been spotted visiting one of his old haunts - a house in Glengormley. 

Ciaran's gone for counselling

Unless someone in that house is giving him counselling and spiritual direction? 

I just wanted to give you all a little update in case you thought I had forgotten about recent events.

Monday, 13 April 2015




This would mean that couples choosing to get married in Roman Catholic Churches would not be legally married unless they made separate arrangements to celebrate a civil marriage in the presence of a marriage solemniser recognised by the State.

Such couples would have to celebrate a civil marriage either before or after their religious marriage.

Currently the Roman Church has all its priests registered on the State's Register of Solemnisers so that, at the end of their religious ceremony, the priest, the couples and their witnesses sign the state registration form in order that the marriage can be civilly registered and a civil marriage certificate issued by the state.

At present some 13,000 marriages (or 59%) in Ireland take place in the churches belonging to Rome. If the bishops carry out their threat those 13,000 couples will have to have a second, civil marriage.

Many, if not most young couples who opt for marriage in an RC church are opting for the nice old granite building, the long aisle to walk up and the nice background for the wedding photos. 

Eighty percent of the couples getting married in these churches are not regular attenders. 

However it has been this way for ages in countries like France where you MUST celebrate a civil marriage before your religious one. 

I have celebrated quite a number of weddings in France and in each case the couple went to the registry office the day before the religious marriage to have their civil marriage.

If the bishops carry out their petty threat they will be cutting off their nose to spite their face.

It will mean that fewer couples will go to Roman Catholic priests to get married and the church will lose no only the income from those marriages - but also the allegiance of more people.

Personally I would like to see the Roman Catholic Church having nothing to do with civil marriages.

It would be another nail in the coffin for the RC church's effort to dictate to the Irish people on social and political matters.

It would remove the church and its influence from another important aspect of Irish social life.

The RC Church is imploding from within in Ireland in any event. People have had enough of medieval doctrines, political interference, sexual abuse and its cover up etc.

The RC Church in Ireland - and further afield - has become a church of ill repute. 

It may be Roman  Catholic but in so many respects it is not Christian. 

The more it becomes a smaller and less significant dinosaur the better.

Were I in the government I would take great pleasure in removing all its "operatives" from the State's Register of Solemnisers of marriages.


Saturday, 11 April 2015


Pope Francis' reputation as liberal takes a knock over reports that he rejected the nomination of a new French ambassador to the Vatican on the grounds that he was a homosexual

Pope Francis at the Vatican, Rome, Italy
Pope Francis at the Vatican, Rome, Italy  Photo: ZUMA/REX Features
Pope Francis has reportedly barred the nomination of a close aide of President Francois Hollande as new French ambassador to the Vatican because he is gay.
The apparent rejection calls into question the pope's reputation as holding more liberal views on homosexuality.
Laurent Stefanini, 54, a senior diplomat and Mr Hollande's chief of protocol, was nominated in early January but the Vatican has maintained a stony silence over whether it accepts his credentials, officials in Paris said.
The usual time frame for their acceptance is a month and a half. After that, a prolonged silence after a nomination is normally interpreted as a rejection.
The Elysee said that the choice of Mr Stefanini to represent France at the Vatican resulted from "a wish by the president and a cabinet decision" and that the president regarded him as "one of our best diplomats."
French media widely reported that Mr Stefanini has been blackballed due to his homosexuality.
Le Journal du Dimanche quoted a Vatican insider as saying that the rejection was "a decision taken by the pope himself."
Liberation, the left-leaning daily, said that "the Vatican's homophobia seriously tarnishes Pope Francis' image as being (slightly) more open-minded that his predecessors on sexuality".
France in 2007 nominated a gay ambassador to the Vatican who had a partner recognised under French law but the Holy See never responded to the nomination, despite lengthy attempts to secure him the post.

France's President Francois Hollande (L) shakes hands with Laurent Stefanini (Bertrand Langlois/AFP/Getty Images)
Mr Stefanini is reportedly widely respected by many in the Catholic Church, following his previous stint as number two in the French embassy at the Vatican from 2001 to 2005. Very discreet about his private life, he is "highly thought of in Roman circles," said Antoine-Marie Izoard, a Vatican specialist with the I-Media press agency.
Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois of Paris reportedly interceded personally with the Pope to back his nomination. La Croix newspaper said Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, the former Vatican foreign minister who is currently president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, also supports the appointment.
Pope Francis has to date adopted a considerably softer line on homosexuality than his predecessor Benedict XVI.
"If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge?" the pontiff said two years ago, adding that gay people should not be marginalised but integrated into society.
However, that did not stop him criticising the current French Socialist government passing a law in 2013 legalising gay marriage and adoption rights for gay couples, leading to mass protests from among the country's Catholics.
He also compared transsexuals to "nuclear weapons" in a book this year, saying both "do not recognise the order of creation".
Some at the Vatican reportedly saw this latest nomination as a "provocation".
Observers say the Pope cannot be seen to be adopting an overly gay-friendly approach that would shock the Catholic church's more conservative elements

Thursday, 9 April 2015


Two members of the new Vatican commission advising Pope Francis on clergy sexual abuse have said they are both concerned and surprised at the pontiff's decision to appoint a bishop in Chile who is accused of covering up abuse, and even witnessing it, while he was a priest.

Protesters at bishop's installation

Speaking in brief NCR interviews Thursday in personal capacities, the commission members also said that some in their group are considering traveling to Rome to try to speak to the pope face-to-face on the matter.
"I am only speaking for myself but as a working sub-group of the Commission we are all very disturbed by what is going on in Chile," said Peter Saunders, one of the commission members who is also a survivor of abuse.
Referring to different sub-groups of the commission working on recommendations for Francis on the church's abuse measures, Saunders said he is part of a commission working group of survivors who together are considering the trip to Rome.
"I am gravely concerned about this issue," said Saunders, who is also the founder of the U.K.-based National Association for People Abused in Childhood. "One or two of us on our survivor working party are suggesting we go to Rome to speak with Francis or at least Cardinal O'Malley."
Boston's Cardinal Sean O'Malley leads the Vatican abuse commission and is also a member of the pope's advisory Council of Cardinals.
Saunders was speaking in an email about Chilean Bishop Juan Barros Madrid, who was installed in his role Saturday as head of the church in the diocese of Osorno, Chile amid protests in the cathedral.
Appointed to the role by Francis in January, Barros is accused by Chilean survivors of covering up abuse by Fr. Fernando Karadima, who was found guilty by the Vatican in 2011 of sexually abusing minors. The survivors say that as a priest Barros not only worked to cover up Karadima's crimes, but even witnessed some of them as they happened.
The bishop, who previously served as the head of Chile's diocese for the military, has denied the claims, saying in a statement he "never had knowledge or imagined the serious abuses that this priest [Fernando Karadima] committed with his victim."
Marie Collins, another member of the Vatican sexual abuse commission who is also a survivor, called on Thursday in a phone interview for Francis to remove Barros.
"As a survivor, I'm very surprised at the appointment in Chile because it seems to go against … what the Holy Father has been saying about not wanting anyone in positions of trust in the church who don't have an absolutely 100 percent record of child protection," said Collins, an Irishwoman.
"I don't know what investigations were done on behalf of the church, but I do know that in investigations of [Karadima], survivors did make those investigating aware of Barros' presence," said Collins.
"[Barros] is not accused of abuse himself in anyway," she continued. "He may have been aware of it and did nothing. And that's enough."
Asked about what recommendations the Vatican commission is considering making to Francis about bishops who cover up abuse, Collins said she thought accountability for bishops was a separate issue than Barros' situation, as he was not a bishop during the time he is alleged to have covered up Karadima's crimes.
"It doesn't appear that he has behaved in any way inappropriately as a bishop," she said. "It's just whether with all the concern around him he's an appropriate person to be appointed."
"I think it's a slightly different issue, but it's just as concerning," Collins continued. "It's the fact that the church would have known about this. I can't understand just how it's gone ahead."
"If he has been able to prove that he wasn't present at any time of any of this, if he's able to prove that, then obviously there's no case for him to answer," said the Irishwoman. "But I don't know that he's done that. It would seem a number of the survivors have all said the same thing. It's not just one person accusing him."
Collins said she thought Francis was "very sincere" about child protection.
"This seems to be contrary to what he has said," she continued. "I'd just like to understand it better and to know why the concerns around Bishop Barros seem to have not been addressed."
Saunders and Collins are two of 17 members of the Vatican abuse commission, which was announced by the Vatican in December 2013 but met for the first time with all of its members in Rome in February.
Collins said the next in-person meeting of the group is likely to be held in October.
During a press conference in February, the commission said it is focusing on making recommendations to Francis in about ten areas, including accountability for bishops who cover up abuse and examining the guidelines on sexual abuse from each of the world's bishops' conferences.


If Pope Francis and the Vatican are still appointing bishops with a questionable track record on clerical child abuse it is a grave scandal.

Maybe it is about time that someone, somewhere brought the pope and / or his Vatican colleagues before an international crime court.

It also makes a joke out of Francis supposed reform.

Maybe like John Paul 11 he is just another good PR man?

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

The Secrets of the Twelve Disciples pt3 of 10



Inside Job
Below the high altar of St. Peter's, investigators have found sheep bones, ox bones, pig bones, and the complete skeleton of a mouse. Was Peter himself ever there?

TOM MUELLER OCT 1 2003, 12:00 PM ET 

It was death, aptly enough, that brought me back to the necropolis. Sitting against the obelisk in the center of St. Peter's Square, I saw the decorous black crosses in L'Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, announcing the passing of Padre Antonio Ferrua, age 102, the grand old man of Christian archaeology. In a series of heartfelt obituaries Ferrua's fellow scholars and Jesuit confreres took their leave of him, commending his intellectual rigor and his remarkable scientific output. In a longer article a former student remembered with obvious affection the generosity of his maestro, the iron constitution that kept him working into his nineties, and the precise little notes he used to write, in a clear but tremulous hand. The accompanying photograph showed Ferrua in a cassock, holding his thumb and index finger together like a conductor with an invisible baton as he explained some fine point of his art. The jutting jaw suggested a truculence that no one had mentioned, and the searching, melancholy eyes were those of a man who had looked deep into the follies and foibles of mankind, and often laughed at them. Here was someone I wished I had met.
The article described Ferrua's many discoveries in the Roman subsoil, one of which was directly beneath me: a vast Roman cemetery that underlies St. Peter's Square and the basilica itself. Ferrua's excavations there had unearthed some twenty pagan mausoleums along with a grave thought to be Peter's. The former student also mentioned a "diatribe with other scholars that dragged on for years, concerning the delicate question of the Apostle's remains and their identity."
Beneath the finely tuned phraseology bigger things lay buried—and I had an idea what they were. I lived in Rome in the mid-1990s, and had researched and explored many of the hundreds of archaeological sites beneath the modern city. In the process I had learned of Ferrua's dramatic discovery of the pagan cemetery beneath St. Peter's, and of the resulting bitter controversy with the epigraphist Margherita Guarducci over the identity of bones found in Peter's supposed tomb. According to many Vatican sources, this quarrel had cost Ferrua a cardinalate.
I decided to revisit the necropolis, and with a guide and a small group of visitors, I once again descended into the underworld of St. Peter's that Antonio Ferrua had revealed. As we walked down a long, dark stairway, the air grew moist and deep-earth cool, pungent with mold. We found ourselves on a twilit roadway fronted by stately little mansions of the dead, with two-story façades of thin Roman brick. Within were walls of lush frescoes and stuccowork, and an exotic profusion of the old gods: falcon-headed Horus with his sacred ankh, Venus rising fair and perfumed from the waves, Dionysus and a drunken rout of nymphs and fauns brandishing phallic wands. Our guide, a young archaeologist with clear blue eyes, a blonde bob, and a patter polished by many tours, explained that these mausoleums had once stood beneath the open sky. Some had courtyards for graveside banquets, with terra-cotta pipes leading down into the graves, through which banqueters poured wine to slake the thirst of the dead. As we proceeded, grates overhead revealed a distant, luminous ceiling of coffered gold. I realized that we were directly beneath the nave of the basilica, approaching the high altar.
At the end of the roadway, under the altar itself, was a rough block of masonry. Through a crack in the brickwork a slender column of white marble could be seen, like a bone laid bare. "This is the tomb of the Apostle Peter," the guide announced, "marked by the so-called aedicula, a memorial to Peter with two marble columns, raised in the second century." The other side of the masonry block was covered with a web of ancient graffiti, she said, left by pious visitors to the tomb. She indicated the strata of stonework built up over the aedicula, a neat core sample of the site: the fourth-century masonry of Constantine the Great, who built the first church of St. Peter; an altar of the seventh century; another of the twelfth; and finally the present high altar, raised in 1594, after Constantine's original church had been demolished and New St. Peter's had been built in its place.
"We should not be surprised that Peter's grave is surrounded by pagan tombs," our guide said. "Remember that in 64 A.D., when Peter died, Rome's Christians were an obscure Eastern cult, a tiny enclave in a predominantly pagan population." In that year Nero, the reigning emperor, rounded them up in the Vatican circus. Striding among them dressed as a charioteer, he watched as some were wrapped in animal skins and savaged by dogs, others crucified and set alight, human torches to illuminate the spectacle. Peter, their leader, died that hellish night, she continued. He was buried on a slope of the adjoining Vatican Hill, which once rose where the basilica now stands; in time an extensive pagan necropolis grew up around his simple grave. Two hundred fifty years later, when Constantine decided to erect a basilica over Peter's grave, his workmen buried part of this necropolis in a million-cubic-meter landfill, to create a level foundation for the church. This was the area, preserved beneath a thick blanket of earth, that Ferrua's excavation had revealed.
The guide's story matched the official Vatican account of Peter's martyrdom and grave. But she had never mentioned the question of Peter's bones.
In 1939 workmen preparing a tomb below the high altar for the recently deceased Pius XI unearthed a stretch of ancient masonry, part of a sumptuous Roman building. The scholarly new pontiff, Pius XII, ordered a systematic excavation of the site by Antonio Ferrua and three distinguished colleagues. It was a courageous decision (previous popes had prohibited such exploration), though courage had its limits. All four excavators were Vatican habitués, who worked under a vow of secrecy. The decade-long investigation, which brought to light, along with the necropolis, the aedicula thought to mark Peter's grave, was closely overseen by Pius XII's longtime collaborator Monsignor Ludwig Kaas, and the actual digging was done by the sampietrini, the hereditary corps of Vatican City workmen. It was an inside job.
In 1951, after twelve years of silence from the excavators and feverish speculation in the world outside, Ferrua and his colleagues published their official report. It caused an immediate uproar. Critics accused them of faulty and haphazard archaeology and the loss of valuable artifacts. Evidence emerged of a running feud between the four excavators and Monsignor Kaas, and of nocturnal meddling at the work site. Kaas had even begun cutting the power to the dig when he and the sampietrini were absent, to prevent the archaeologists from making any unsupervised discoveries.
Given the inherent difficulty of the site, Ferrua and his colleagues had in fact worked with remarkable objectivity: despite intense pressure from the Vatican community, they reported no trace of Peter—not one inscription that named him, not even amid all the graffiti on his supposed tomb. Strangest of all, they discovered that the earth directly beneath the aedicula was empty.
Pius XII soon authorized further research in the necropolis by Margherita Guarducci, an eminent classical epi-graphist and another fervent Catholic. Guarducci rapidly overturned the previous findings and admitted a sultry breeze of Italian-style polemica. She discovered inscriptions and drawings in Peter's honor that Ferrua and his colleagues had, in her view, inexplicably omitted from their report; the most important of these, an inscription near the aedicula that she read as "Peter is within," she claimed Ferrua had removed from the site and secreted in his monastic cell. In the snarl of graffiti on Peter's tomb she discerned a "mystic cryptography," with countless coded messages about the Apostle. At length she even produced Peter's remains. A sampietrino had shown her a wooden box of bones, she explained, which were inside the masonry surrounding the aedicula when the archaeologists first discovered it. Somehow they had overlooked the precious relics, and Monsignor Kaas later tucked them away for safekeeping. Scientific tests arranged by Guarducci indicated that the bones had been wrapped in a cloth of royal purple stitched with gold, and were those of a man of sixty to seventy years and a robust physique—the bones, she argued, of the Apostle.
Guarducci's results, which she published in a steady stream of articles and books, were criticized by the scholarly community in tones ranging from derision to outrage. Her mystic cryptography was widely questioned, as was every scrap of logic and science she had used to link the bones in the box to Peter. Her most caustic critic was Antonio Ferrua, who subjected each of her publications to a withering (and frequently hilarious) review. "Thus one can either commiserate with or admire the illustrious Authoress for her immense exertions, carried out with commendable passion and ingenuousness, and indeed with a faith that ought to move mountains," he wrote of Guarducci's three-volume exposition of the coded graffiti at Peter's tomb. "But all this cannot suffice to make us accept a work that is fundamentally wrong." Some time after Guarducci announced that she had found Peter's actual remains, Ferrua wrote a ferocious memorandum to put Pope Paul VI on his guard. Having methodically dismantled Guarducci's account, he reviewed with high irony the contents of the famous box, which in addition to human remains held sheep, ox, and pig bones, and the complete skeleton of a mouse.
Paul VI apparently believed Guarducci, for he soon announced that Peter's authentic relics had been found. But Padre Ferrua had the last laugh. Shortly after Paul's death, in 1978, Guarducci was banned from the necropolis, and subsequently from the basilica archives. The presumed relics, which had been reinstalled with great fanfare in the masonry surrounding the aedicula, were removed. In later writings a bitter Guarducci criticized Paul's successor John Paul II for his lack of attention to Peter's remains, and implied that the forces of darkness, in the person of Antonio Ferrua, were sabotaging her work in the necropolis—her "apostolate," as she called it. Nonetheless, Vatican guides today refrain from reading mystical meanings into the graffiti on Peter's grave, and make no comment about his bones.
This is only the most recent episode in the age-old mystery of Peter's tomb. In 1624 Pope Urban VIII ordered that the deep foundation work for Gianlorenzo Bernini's towering bronze canopy over the high altar begin. No sooner had ground been broken, however, than the excavators started dropping dead. Urban himself fell ill, and all Rome whispered of Peter's curse, said to strike down those who disturbed the Apostle's rest. Meanwhile, horrified eyewitnesses watched a steady stream of pagan relics issue from the Church's holiest soil, some so scandalous that the Pope ordered them dumped in the Tiber. One of the finds, a funerary statue of a man reclining bare-chested on a dining couch with a gentle epicurean smile, fortunately survived the papal wrath, together with its inscription:
Tivoli is my home town, Flavius Agricola my name—yes, I'm the one you see reclining here, just as I did all the years of life Fate granted me, taking good care of my little self and never running short on wine. Primitiva, my darling wife, died before me, she too a Flavian, chaste worshipper of Isis ... Friends who read this, do my bidding. Mix the wine, drink deep, wreathed in flowers, and do not refuse to pretty girls the pleasures of sexual intercourse. When death comes, earth and fire devour all.
In Urban's time speculation about what lay beneath the high altar was already a thousand years old. Writers of the early Middle Ages mentioned the terrifying apparitions that haunted those who dared to meddle with the Apostle's tomb. Others alluded to caves and secret passageways beneath the church, and to the odd notion that Peter lay buried in a pagan temple. Such ideas may have stemmed in part from chance discoveries in the pagan necropolis that we now know underlies the basilica. But they also arose from a deeper uncertainty about where Peter died and was buried that is rooted in the Bible itself.
The New Testament, which contains the only roughly contemporary account of Peter's life, makes no reference to his having been in Rome or to his martyrdom. In the Acts of the Apostles, which chronicle the Apostles' deeds after Jesus died, Peter last appears around A.D. 44, in a Jerusalem jail, from which he is released by an angel. He then disappears from the biblical narrative, with such finality that some scholars take the delivering angel to be a euphemism for death. Paul, writing to and from Rome in the years Peter was reputedly there, omits him from the lists of Rome's prominent Christians that conclude his letters. I Peter, an epistle attributed to Peter himself, is addressed from "Babylon," which may mean Rome. The obliquity of the reference aside, however, the epistle's theology and high Greek style are wrong for Peter, an unschooled fisherman from Galilee. Many scholars reject his authorship.
Literary evidence for Peter's presence and martyrdom in Rome remains ambiguous through the late second century. Some researchers see hints in I Clement, probably written in Rome about A.D. 96, and in the letter of Ignatius of Antioch to the Romans, composed a few decades later. But these references are extremely vague, in contexts that seem to demand clarity. And no one ever mentions Peter's grave.
Probably with good reason. Even if we grant that Peter was martyred in Rome, his body is unlikely to have been recovered for burial, or his grave ever marked. The Neronian persecution made Christianity a capital crime. Under Roman law the body of such a criminal, particularly a foreigner like Peter, was often denied burial, and might be summarily dumped in the Tiber. To recover it, someone would have had to petition the Roman authorities, thereby identifying himself as a Christian—tantamount to suicide.
What is more, few of Peter's fellow Christians would have troubled about his bones. Christians around A.D. 64 anxiously awaited the parousia, Jesus Christ's imminent Second Coming. Martyrs' relics and graves seemed of little moment in a world about to be consumed by fire. It wasn't until a century or more after Peter's death that the cult of the martyrs developed in the West.
The first explicit mentions of Peter's Roman sojourn, martyrdom, and grave appear around this same time. From 170 to about 210 three authors—Dionysius of Corinth, Irenaeus of Lyons, and Gaius of Rome—state that Peter and Paul founded the Roman Church. Since Paul clearly denies this in his letters, these authors' testimony is problematic. Yet it is intriguing. Dionysius adds that Peter "gave witness," evidently through martyrdom. Still more significant, Gaius claims that a tropaion ("trophy" or "memorial") to Peter stood in the Vatican in his day. Many scholars, including Ferrua and his colleagues, have equated this with the aedicula at the heart of the Vatican necropolis, dated by archaeological evidence to circa A.D. 170, making Gaius' the first reference to Peter's tomb.
Gaius, however, wrote 150 years after Peter's death. Christianity was no longer an isolated sect but an empire-wide movement. The hope of an impending parousia had faded, and the cult of the martyrs had arisen, presumably from a desire for tangible links with a heaven that had come to seem more distant. But there were practical reasons as well. Church unity had for some decades been threatened by mystical, speculative heresies practiced by Gnostics and Montanists, who claimed access to new divine revelations. Against these dangerous innovators, conventional Christians like Dionysius, Irenaeus, and Gaius insisted that the only valid beliefs were those taught by Jesus and his hearers. They compiled bishops' lists for the major churches, to demonstrate an unbroken chain of leaders back to an illustrious early founder. The presence of an Apostle, confirmed by his tomb and relics, became an ideal pedigree of orthodoxy for a local congregation, and a source of enormous prestige. The remains of Peter, Prince of the Apostles, were the most prestigious pedigree of all.
Sitting in St. Peter's Square, I imagine the Vatican before all this—before the Baroque basilica with Michelangelo's soaring dome, before the majestic edifice of the papacy. I picture Constantine's original church, age-worn and austere, and then look back further still, to the Vatican as Constantine first saw it, in A.D. 312, punctuated by great monuments in various stages of decay: the ruined circus, with the obelisk still standing at its center; the neighboring Vatican Hill, with its noble house tombs and silvery grove of olive trees at the summit; a white marble pyramid more than thirty-five meters high; a watertight stadium for gladiatorial sea battles; and the enormous white drum of Hadrian's mausoleum, long before it metamorphosed into the Castel Sant'Angelo.

Above all I imagine the temples for which the Vatican was famous. In ancient times, Roman historians tell us, this swampy region beyond the Tiber was an eerie borderland of fevers and giant snakes, where the voices of the gods could be heard. These historians derived the name Vaticanum from vates, a holy seer who understood these voices. Pliny described an ancient oak, still standing there in his day, on which were bronze Etruscan letters of religious significance. Later, extravagant temples and sacred compounds rose here to Eastern deities. The ecstatic rites celebrated there fascinated the Romans, but were too exotic to be held within the city itself. Small wonder that Peter, hero of another marginal Eastern cult, was believed to have come here in the end, or that Constantine built a glorious new temple in his honor. The Vatican has always been sacred soil.

Monday, 6 April 2015


Peter’s Tomb
Recently Discovered In Jerusalem

Chapter 1
Saint Peter's Tomb
   While visiting a friend in Switzerland, I heard of what seemed to me, one of the greatest discoveries since the time of Christ—that Peter was buried in Jerusalem and not in Rome. The source of this rumor, written in Italian, was not clear; it left considerable room for doubt or rather wonder. Rome was the place where I could investigate the matter, and if such proved encouraging, a trip to Jerusalem might be necessary in order to gather valuable first hand information on the subject. I therefore went to Rome. After talking to many priests and investigating various sources of information, I finally was greatly rewarded by learning where I could buy the only known book on the subject, which was also written in Italian. It is called, "Gli Scavi del Dominus Flevit", printed in 1958 at the Tipografia del PP. Francescani, in Jerusalem. It was written by P. B. Bagatti and J. T. Milik, both Roman Catholic priests. The story of the discovery was there, but it seemed to be purposely hidden for much was lacking. I consequently determined to go to Jerusalem to see for myself, if possible, that which appeared to be almost unbelievable, especially since it came from priests, who naturally because of the existing tradition that Peter was buried in Rome, would be the last ones to welcome such a discovery or to bring it to the attention of the world.

In Jerusalem I spoke to many Franciscan priests who all read, finally, though reluctantly, that the bones of Simon Bar Jona (St. Peter) were found in Jerusalem, on the Franciscan monastery site called, "Dominus Flevit" (where Jesus was supposed to have wept over [pg. 4] Jerusalem), on the Mount of Olives. The pictures show the story. The first show an excavation where the names of Christian Biblical characters were found on the ossuaries (bone boxes). The names of Mary and Martha were found on one box and right next to it was one with the name of Lazarus, their brother. Other names of early Christians were found on other boxes. Of greatest interest, however, was that which was found within twelve feet from the place where the remains of Mary, Martha and Lazarus were found—the remains of St. Peter. They were found in an ossuary, on the outside of which was clearly and beautifully written in Aramaic, "Simon Bar Jona".

The charcoal inscription reads: "Shimon Bar Yonah" which means "Simon [Peter] son of Jonah".
Mat 16:17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.
I talked to a Yale professor, who is an archaeologist, and was director of the American School of Oriental Research in Jerusalem. He told me that it would be very improbable that a name with three words, and one so complete, could refer to any other than St. Peter.

But what makes the possibility of error more remote is that the remains were found in a Christian burial ground, and more yet, of the first century, the very time in which Peter lived. In fact, I have a letter from a noted scientist stating that he can tell by the writing that it was written just before the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus in 70 A.D.

I talked to priest Milik, the co-writer of this Italian book, in the presence of my friend, a Christian Arab, Mr. S. J. Mattar, who now is the warden of the Garden Tomb, where Jesus was buried and rose again. This priest, Milik, admitted that he knew that the bones of St. Peter are not in Rome. I was very much surprised that he would admit that, so to confirm his admittance, I said, to which he also agreed, "There is a hundred times more evidence that Peter was buried in Jerusalem than in Rome." This was something of an understatement, for he knew as I know that there is absolutely no evidence at all that Peter was buried in Rome. I have spoken on the subject to many Franciscan priests who either were or had been in Jerusalem, and they all agree that the tomb and remains of St. Peter are in Jerusalem. There was just one exception which is interesting and which only proves the point. The Franciscan priest, Augusto Spykerman, who was in charge of the semi-private museum inside the walls of old Jerusalem, by the site of the Franciscan Church of the Flagellation, was that exception. When I asked to see the museum, he showed it to the three of us, Mr. Mattar, who in addition to being warden of the Tomb of Christ, had been the manager of an English bank in Jerusalem, a. professional photographer and myself. But he told us nothing of the discovery. I knew that the evidence of Peter’s burial was there, for priests had told me that relics from the Christian burial ground were preserved within this museum. People who lived in Jerusalem all their lives and official guides who are supposed to know every inch of the city, however, knew nothing of this [pg 5] discovery, so well was it withheld from the public. I had asked an elderly official guide where the tomb of St. Peter was. He responded in a very profound and majestic tone of voice, "The Tomb of St. Peter has never been found in Jerusalem." "Oh," I said, "but I have seen the burial place of Peter with my own eyes." He turned on me with a fierceness that is so common among Arabs. "What," he replied, "you a foreigner mean to tell me that you know where the tomb of St. Peter is when I have been an official guide for thirty-five years and know every inch of ground in Jerusalem?" I was afraid that he would jump at my throat. I managed to calm him as I said, "But sir, here are the pictures and you can see the ossuary, among others, with Peter’s name in Aramaic. You can also see this for yourself on the Mount of Olives on the Franciscan Convent site called, "Dominus Flevit". When I finished he slowly turned away in stunned amazement. A person who has seen this Christian burial ground and knows the circumstances surrounding the case could never doubt that this truly is the burial place of St. Peter and of other Christians. I, too, walked around in a dreamy amazement for about a week for I could hardly believe what I had seen and heard. Since the circulation of this article, they do not allow anyone to see this burial place. 


Before things had gone very far, I had been quite discouraged for I could get no information from the many priests with whom I had talked. However, I continued questioning priests wherever I would find them. Finally one priest dropped some information. With that knowledge I approached another priest who warily asked me where I had acquired that information. I told him that a priest had told me. Then he admitted the point and dropped a little more information. It went on like that for some time until I got the whole picture, and I was finally directed to where I could see the evidence for myself. To get the story, it made me feel as though I had a bull by the tail and were trying to pull him through a key hole. But when I had gathered all the facts in the case, the priests could not deny the discovery of the tomb, but even confirmed it, though reluctantly. In fact, I have the statement from a Spanish priest on the Mount of Olives on a tape recorder, to that effect. 


But here we were talking to this Franciscan priest in charge of the museum, asking him questions which he tried to evade but could not because of the information I had already gathered from the many priests with whom I had spoken. Finally after the pictures of the evidence were taken, which was nothing short of a miracle that he allowed us to do so, I complimented him on the marvelous discovery of the tomb of St. Peter in Jerusalem that the Franciscans had made. He was clearly nervous as he said, "Oh no, the tomb of St. Peter is in Rome." But as he said that, his voice faltered, a fact which even my [pg. 6] friend, Mr. Mattar, had noticed. Then I looked him squarely in the eyes and firmly said, "No, the tomb of St. Peter is in Jerusalem." He looked at me like a guilty school boy and held his peace. He was, no doubt, placed there to hide the facts, but his actions and words, spoke more convincingly about the discovery than those priests who finally admitted the truth.
I also spoke to a Franciscan priest in authority at the priest’s printing plant within the walls of old Jerusalem, where their book on the subject was printed. He also admitted that the tomb of St. Peter is in Jerusalem. Then when I visited the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, I encountered a Franciscan monk. After telling him what I thought of the wonderful discovery the Franciscans had made, I asked him plainly, "Do you folks really believe that those are the remains of St. Peter?" He responded, "Yes we do, we have no choice in the matter. The clear evidence is there." I did not doubt the evidence, but what surprised me was that these priests and monks believed that which was against their own religion and on top of that, to admit it to others was something out of this world. Usually a Catholic, either because he is brainwashed or stubbornly doesn’t want to see anything only that which he has been taught, will not allow himself to believe anything against his religion, much less to admit it to others. But there is a growing, healthy attitude among many Catholics, to "prove all things, hold fast to that which is good" as the Master admonished us all. 
Then I asked, "Does Father Bagatti (co-writer of the book in Italian on the subject, and archaeologist) really believe that those are the bones of St. Peter?" 
    "Yes, he does," was the reply.
    Then I asked, "But what does the Pope think of all this?"
    That was a thousand dollar question and he gave me a million dollar answer. 
    "Well," he confidentially answered in a hushed voice, "Father Bagatti told me personally that three years ago he went to the Pope (Pius XII) in Rome and showed him the evidence and the Pope said to him, ‘Well, we will have to make some changes, but for the time being, keep this thing quiet’." In awe I asked also in a subdued voice, "So the Pope really believes that those are the bones of St. Peter?" 
    "Yes," was his answer. "The documentary evidence is there, he could not help but believe." 
I visited various renowned archaeologists on the subject. Dr. Albright, of the John Hopkins University in Baltimore, told me that he personally knew priest Bagatti and that he was a very competent archaeologist. I also spoke with Dr. Nelson Gluek, archaeologist and [pg. 7] president of the Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I showed him the pictures found in this article, but being with him for only a few minutes I therefore could not show him the wealth of material that you have before you in this article. However, he quickly recognized the Aramaic words to be "Simon Bar Jona". (Aramaic is very similar to Hebrew). I asked him if he would write a statement to that effect. He said to do so would cast a reflection on the competency of the priest J. T. Milik, who he knew to be a very able scientist. But he said that he would write a note. I quote, "I regard Father J. T. Milik as a first class scholar in the Semitic field." He added, "I do not consider that names on ossuaries are conclusive evidence that they are those of the Apostles."

I quote this letter of Dr. Glueck because it shows that priest Milik is a competent archaeologist. As I have mentioned, I was only able to be with him for a few minutes and was not able to show him but a very small part of the evidence. Anyone, including myself, would readily agree with Dr. Glueck that if only the name Simon Bar Jona on the ossuary was all the evidence that was available it would not be conclusive evidence that it was of the Apostle Peter, though it would certainly be a strong indication. 

The story of the cave and the ossuaries and the regular cemetery just outside of the Convent site is this: It was a Roman custom that when a person had died and after about ten years when the body had decomposed, the grave would be opened. The bones would be placed in a small ossuary with the name of the person carefully written on the outside front. These ossuaries would then be placed in a cave as in the case of this Christian burial ground and thus making room for others. But this cave or burial place where the ossuaries were found and which was created and brought about through the natural and disinterested sequence of events, without any reason to change facts or circumstances, was a greater testimony than if there were a witness recorded, stating that Peter was buried there. And yet, even that is unmistakenly recorded in the three words in Aramaic of the ossuary, Simon Bar Jona. 


Herein, lies the greatest proof that Peter never was a Pope, and never was in Rome, for if he had been, it would have certainly been proclaimed in the New Testament. History, likewise, would not have been silent on the subject, as they were not silent in the case of the Apostle Paul. Even the Catholic history would have claimed the above as a fact and not as fickle tradition. To omit Peter as being Pope and in Rome (and the Papacy) would be like omitting the Law of Moses or the Prophets or the Acts of the Apostles from the Bible. 

Dr. Glueck, being Jewish, and having been to Jerusalem, no doubt, is fully aware of the fact that for centuries the Catholic Church bought up what were thought to be holy sites, some of which did not stand up to Biblical description. For instance, the priests say that the tomb of Jesus is within the walls of the old Jerusalem, in a hole in the ground; whereas, the Bible says that the tomb where Jesus was laid was hewn out of rock and a stone was rolled in front and not on top of it. The Garden Tomb at the foot of Golgotha, outside the walls of old Jerusalem, meets the Biblical description perfectly. In fact, all those who were hated by the Jewish leaders, as Jesus was, could never have been allowed to be buried within the gates of the Holy City. The tomb where Jesus lay was made for Joseph of Arimathaea. His family were all stout and short of stature. In this burial place you can see to this day where someone had carved deeper into the wall to make room for Jesus who was said to be about six feet tall. 

When Pope Pius XII declared the Assumption of Mary to be an article of faith in 1950, the Catholic Church in Jerusalem then quickly sold the tomb of Mary to the Armenian Church. Ex-priest Lavallo told me personally that there is another tomb of St. Mary in Ephesus. But the tomb of St. Peter is altogether different for they would rather that it never existed, and to buy or sell such a site would be out of the question. It fell upon them in this manner, as I was told by a Franciscan monk of the monastery of "Dominus Flevit". One of their members was spading the ground on this site in 1953, when his shovel fell through. Excavation was started and there, a large underground Christian burial ground was uncovered. The initial of Christ in Greek was written there which would never have been found in a Jewish, Arab or pagan cemetery. By the structure of the writings, it was established by scientists that they were of the days just before the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus in 70 A.D. On the ossuaries were found many names of the Christian of the early Church. It was prophesied in the Bible that Jesus would stand on the Mount of Olives at His return to earth. You can see then, how the Christians would be inclined to have their burial ground on the Mount, for here also, had been a favorite meeting place of Jesus and His disciples.

In all the cemetery, nothing was found (as also in the Catacombs in Rome) which resemble Arab, Jewish, Catholic or pagan practices. Dr. Glueck, being Jewish, is not fully aware, no doubt, that such a discovery is very embarrassing since it undermines the very foundation of the Roman Catholic Church. Since Peter did not live in Rome and therefore was not martyred or buried there, it naturally follows that he [pg. 13] was not their first Pope.

The Catholic Church says that Peter was Pope in Rome from 41 to 66 A.D., a period of twenty-five years, but the Bible shows a different story. The book of the Acts of the Apostles (in either the Catholic or Protestant Bible) records the following: Peter was preaching the Gospel to the circumcision (the Jews) in Caesarea and Joppa in Palestine, ministering unto the household of Cornelius, which is a distance of 1,800 miles from Rome (Acts 10:23, 24). Soon after, about the year 44 A.D. (Acts 12), Peter was cast into prison in Jerusalem by Herod, but he was released by an angel. From 46 to 52 A.D., we read in the 13th chapter that he was in Jerusalem preaching the difference between Law and Grace. Saul was converted in 34 A.D. and became Paul the Apostle (Acts 9). Paul tells us that three years after his conversion in 37 A.D., he "went up to Jerusalem to see Peter" (Galatians 1:18), and in 51 A.D., fourteen years later, he again went up to Jerusalem (Gal. 2:1, 8), Peter being mentioned. Soon after that he met Peter in Antioch, and as Paul says, "Withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed," Gal. 2:11. The evidence is abundant, the truth is clear from the Scriptures which have never failed. It would be breathtaking to read of the boldness of Paul in dealing with Peter. Very few, if any, have withstood a Pope and lived (except in these days when everybody seems to withstand him). If Peter were Pope it would have been no different. Paul does not only withstand Peter but rebukes him and blames him of being at fault. 

This reminds me of my visit to the St. Angelo Castle in Rome. This castle, which is a very strong fortress, is connected with the Vatican by a high arched viaduct of about a mile in length over which popes have fled in time of danger. The Roman Catholic guide showed me a prison room which had a small air-tight chamber in it. He told me that a Cardinal who had contended with a pope on doctrine was thrown into this air-tight chamber for nearly two hours until he almost smothered to death. He then was led to the guillotine a few feet away and his head was cut off. Another thing remained with me forcibly. The guide showed me through the apartments of the various popes who had taken refuge there. In each case he also showed me the apartment of the mistresses of each of the popes. I was amazed that he made no attempt to hide anything. 

I asked him "Are you not a Catholic?" 
He humbly answered, "Oh yes, I am a Catholic, but I am ashamed of the history of many of the popes, but I trust that our modern popes are better." 

I then asked him, "Surely you are aware of the affair between Pope Pius XII and his housekeeper?" Many in Rome say that she ran [pg. 14] the affairs of the Pope and the Vatican as well. 

He hung his head in shame and sadly said, "Yes, I know." 

All this explains why the Catholic Church has been so careful to keep this discovery unknown. They were successful in doing just that from 1953, when it was discovered by the Franciscans on their own convent site, until 1959. Having succeeded for so long in keeping "this thing quiet," as the Pope had admonished, they were off guard when a fellow at that time came along who appeared harmless but persistent. Little did they know that this fellow would publish the news everywhere. Their position in the world is shaky enough without this discovery becoming generally known. 

As I have mentioned, I had a very agreeable talk with priest Milik, but I did not have the opportunity to see priest Bagatti while in Jerusalem. I wrote to him, however, on March 15, 1960, as follows: "I have spoken with a number of Franciscan priests and monks and they have told me about you and the book of which you are a co-writer. I had hoped to see you and to compliment you on such a great discovery, but time would not permit. Having heard so much about you and that you are an archaeologist (with the evidence in hand), I was convinced, with you, concerning the ancient burial ground that the remains found in the ossuary with the name on it, ‘Simon Bar Jona’, written in Aramaic, were those of St. Peter." It is remarkable that in his reply he did not contradict my statement, which he certainly would have done if he honestly could have done so. "I was very much convinced with you ... that the remains found in the ossuary ... were those of St. Peter." This confirms the talk I had with the Franciscan monk in Bethlehem and the story he told me of Priest Bagatti’s going to the Pope with the evidence concerning the bones of St. Peter in Jerusalem. In his letter one can see that he is careful because of the Pope’s admonition to keep this discovery quiet. He therefore wrote me that he leaves the whole explanation of the Aramaic words, "Simon Bar Jona", to priest Milik. This is a familiar way of getting out of a similar situation. In priest Bagatti’s letter one can see that he is in a difficult position. He cannot go against what he had written in 1953, at the time of the discovery of this Christian-Jewish burial ground, nor what he had said to the Franciscan monk about his visit to the Pope. However, he does raise a question which helps him to get out of the situation without altogether contradicting himself and at the same time putting a smoke screen around the truth. He wrote, "Supposing that it is ‘Jona’ (on the ossuary) as I believe, it may be some other relative of St. Peter, because names were passed on from family to family. To be able to propose the identification of it with St. Peter would go against a long tradition, which has its own value. Anyway, another volume will come [pg. 15] soon that will demonstrate that the cemetery was Christian and of the first century to the second century A.D. The salute in God most devoted P. B. Bagatti C. F. M." 

As I have shown, after the admonition of the Pope to "keep this thing quiet," priest Bagatti leaves the interpretation of the whole matter to priest Milik who offers several suggestions but in the end declares that the original statement of priest Bagatti may be true—that the inscription and the remains were of St. Peter. 

It is also very interesting and highly significant that priest Bagatti, in his attempt to neutralize his original statement and the consternation the discovery had and would have if it were generally known, says in reference to the name Simon Bar Jona (St. Peter), "It may be some other relative of St. Peter, because names were passed on from generation to generation." In other words he says that Peter’s name, Simon Bar Jona, could have been given him from a relative of the same name of generations before him, or, could belong to a relative generations after St. Peter. Both speculations are beyond the realm of the possible. First of all, it could not refer to a relative before St. Peter for the Christian burial ground could only have come into being after Jesus began. His public ministry and had converts; and therefore, could not belong to a relative before Peter’s time, since only those who were converted through Christ’s ministry were buried there. Titus destroyed Jerusalem in 70 A.D. and left it desolate. Therefore, it is impossible that the inscription could refer to a relative after Peter’s time. One encyclopedia explains the destruction in these words, ‘‘With this event the history of ancient Jerusalem came to a close, for it was left desolate and it’s inhabitants were scattered abroad." From all evidence, Peter was about fifty years old when Jesus called him to be an Apostle, and he died around the age of 82, or about the year 62 A.D. Since by these figures there was only eight years left from the time of Peter’s death until the destruction of Jerusalem, it was then impossible that the inscription and remains belonged to generations after Peter. In those days names were passed on to another only after a lapse of many years. But let us say that immediately after the death of St. Peter, a baby was christened, "Simon Bar Jona", the inscription still could not have been of this baby for the remains were of an adult and not of a child of eight years who had died just before the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., at which time "the history of ancient Jerusalem came to a close, for it was left desolate and its inhabitants were scattered abroad."

This ancient Christian burial ground shows that Peter died and was buried in Jerusalem, which is easily understandable since neither history nor the Bible tells of Peter’s having been in Rome. To make matters more clear, the Bible tells us that Peter was the Apostle to the Jews. It was Paul who was the Apostle to the Gentiles, and both history and the Bible tells of his being in Rome. No wonder that the Roman Catholic Bishop, Strossmayer, in his great speech against papal infallibility before the Pope and the Council of 1870 said, "Scaliger, one of the most learned men, has not hesitated to say that St. Peter’s episcopate and residence in Rome ought to be classed with ridiculous legends." Eusebius, one of the most learned men of his time, wrote the Church history up to the year 325 A.D. He said that Peter never was in Rome. This Church history was translated by Jerome from the original Greek, but in his translation he added a fantastic story of Peter’s residence in Rome. This was a common practice in trying to create credence in their doctrines, using false statements, false letters and falsified history. This is another reason why we cannot rely on tradition, but only on the infallible Word of God. 

The secrecy surrounding this case is amazing, and yet understandable, since Catholics largely base their faith on the assumption that Peter was their first Pope and that he was martyred and buried there. But I am somewhat of the opinion that the Franciscan priests, those who are honest, would be glad to see the truth proclaimed, even if it displeased those who are over them. While visiting with priest Milik, I told him of the highly educated priest with whom I had spoken just before going from Rome to Jerusalem. He admitted to me that the remains of Peter are not in the tomb of St. Peter in the Vatican. I asked him what had happened to them? He responded, "We don’t know, but we think that the Saracens stole them away." First of all, the Saracens never got to Rome, but even if they had, what would they want with the bones of Peter? But they never got to Rome, so there it ends. We had a good laugh together, but more so when I told him of my discussion with a brilliant American priest in Rome. I asked this American priest if he knew that the bones of Peter were not in the "Tomb of St. Peter" in the Vatican. He admitted that they were not there. However, he said that a good friend of his, an archaeologist, had been excavating under St. Peter’s Basilica for the bones of St. Peter for a number of years and five years ago he found them. Now a man can be identified by his fingerprints, but never by his bones. So I asked him how he knew they were the bones of St. Peter? He hesitated and tried to change the subject, but on my insistence he finally explained that they had taken the bones to a chemist, and they were analyzed and it was judged that the bones were of a man who had died at about the age of sixty-five; therefore, they must be Peter’s. How ridiculous can people be? 

Mark you, all the priests agree that the Vatican and St. Peter’s were built over a pagan cemetery. This was a very appropriate place for them to build since, as even Cardinal Newman admitted, there are many pagan practices in the Roman Catholic Church. You realize surely, that Christians would never bury their dead in a pagan cemetery, and you may be very sure that pagans would never allow a Christian to be buried in their cemetery. So, even if Peter died in Rome, which is out of the question, surely the pagan cemetery under St. Peter’s Basilica would be the last place in which he would have been buried. Also, Peter from every indication, lived to be over 80 and not 65 years old. 

The Pope was right, going back to the early Christian burial ground, they must make changes and many of them and fundamental ones at that. But I am afraid that the Pope’s (Pius XII) admittance of the discovery on Bagatti’s presentation of the documentary evidence was to satisfy Bagatti but at the same time admonishing him to keep the information quiet, hoping that the truth of the discovery would die out. But they have said that after all these years of excavation under the Vatican, they have discovered Greek words which read, "Peter is buried here," and it gives the date 160 A.D. First of all, the very structure of the sentence immediately gives one the impression that either quite recently or long ago, someone put the sign there hoping that it would be taken as authentic in order to establish that which then, and even now, has never been proven. Then there is a discrepancy in the date, for Peter was martyred around the year 62 A.D. and not 160 A.D. Thirdly, why is it that they mention nothing about finding bones under or around the sign? While visiting the Catacombs, one sees a few things which are not becoming to Christians, but which tend to indicate that the Christians had some pagan practices, similar to those of Rome today. Nothing is said about them and only after persistent questioning will the Roman Catholic priest, who acts as guide, tell you that those things, images, etc., were placed there centuries after the early Christian era. 

In 1950, just a few years prior to the discovery of the Christian burial ground in Jerusalem, the Pope made the strange declaration that the bones of St. Peter were found under St. Peter’s in Rome. Strange it was, for since beginning to build the church in 1450 (finished in 1626) they erected, St. Peter’s Tomb (?) under the large dome and Bernini's serpentine columns. Since then multiplied millions were thereby deceived into believing that the remains of St. Peter were there, which the hierarchy had all along known was not true, as is proven by the late Pope’s declaration. The following was published in the Newsweek of [pg. 18] July 1, 1957: 

"It was in 1950 that Pope Pius XII in his Christmas message announced that the tomb of St. Peter had indeed been found, as tradition held, beneath the immense dome of the Cathedral (there was, however, no evidence that the bones uncovered there belonged to the body of the martyr)." The parentheses are Newsweek’s.

To make an announcement of such importance when there is absolutely "no evidence" is rather ridiculous as is also brought out in the Time Magazine of October 28, 1957 (as in above, we quote the article word for word). 

"A thorough account in English of the discoveries beneath St. Peter’s is now available ... by British archaeologists Jocelyn Toynbee and John Ward Perkins. The authors were not members of the excavating team, but scholars Toynbee (a Roman Catholic) and Perkins (an Anglican) poured over the official Vatican reports painstakingly examined the diggings. Their careful independent conclusions fall short of the Pope’s flat statement." (The Pope’s statement that the remains of St. Peter were found under St. Peter’s in Rome). The excavation under St. Peter’s for the remains of St. Peter is still going on secretly, in spite of the Pope’s declaration of 1950. 

Then in 1965, an archaeologist at Rome University, Prof. Margherita Guarducci, tells of a new set of bones belonging to Peter. The story was fantastic but lacked common sense and even bordered on the infantile—but a drowning man will grab for a straw and a straw it was to many. But the Palo Alto Times (California), May 9, 1967, came out with an article on the subject, and I quote, "Other experts, among them Msgr. Joseph Ruysschaert, vice prefect of the Vatican Library are not convinced by Miss Guarducci’s evidence. ‘There are too many unknowns,’ he told reporters on a recent tour of the Vatican grottoes, ‘There is no continuous tracing of the bones. We lack historical proof. They could be anyone’s bones.’ The Vatican would seem to be on the monsignor's side because so far it has taken no steps to officially recognize the bones as St. Peter’s," continues the article. [A similar article in the Valley Independent, Monessen Pa., May 10, 1967]

The intelligent priest of whom I have mentioned said that Peter’s bones were found and he was a man who died of about 62 years of age, the tests indicated. Pope Pius XII declared these bones were the bones of St. Peter, in his Christmas message of 1950. These were the same as claimed by Newsweek, "there was, however, no evidence that the bones uncovered there belonged to the body of the martyr (Peter)," as well as the above doubtful statements of the archaeologists working on the case. The Pope, notwithstanding, was overjoyed to think they had found the bones of St. Peter until further examination proved that these bones were those of a woman. This fact came out in an article on [pg. 19] the subject in the S. F. Chronicle of June 27, 1968.
To continue the history of another case in which they have erred: In spite of the statements by the high Papal authority above and the resultant lesson that should have been learned, the Pope, a year later claimed the Prof. Margherita bones as his very own, that is, those of St. Peter. When the bones were found there was little importance placed upon them and they were filed away as such. But when the first set of Peter’s bones turned out so tragically, there was a vacuum left and something had to be done. Again they turned their thoughts to the filed-away bones, the only hope they had of success. In them there was a ray of hopes for the bones were minus a skull, which could go along with the story of the supposed skull of St. Peter which had for centuries been guarded in the church of St. John Lateran in Rome. With a generous mixture of ideas, suppositions, theories and wishful thinking, a fairly logical story emerged. It was then declared by Pope Paul as the Gospel truth, that these now, were the genuine bones of St. Peter, and most of the faithful accepted them as such. For a while all was well until another hitch developed. This time, as fate would have it, the bones in connection with the skull which was guarded for centuries as that of St. Peter, were found incompatible to the more recent bones of St. Peter. The dilemma was terrible. They were between the Devil and the deep blue sea. They have juggled around the skulls of St. Peter causing confusion. It was a choice of claiming these bones championed by Prof. Margherita as fake, or claiming as fake the skull accepted by hundreds of Popes as that of St. Peter. They rejected the past rather than expose themselves to the ridicule of the present. Prof. Margherita claims in this article which appeared in the Manchester Guardian in London, as well as the S. F. Chronicle of June 27, 1968, concerning the long accepted skull of St. Peter, as "it is a fake." Then the article continues, "The hundreds of Popes and millions of Roman Catholics who have accepted and venerated the other skull were innocent victims of another early tradition." [A similar article in the Press Telegram, Long Beach Calif., Jan. 3, 1968]

But the most astounding statement in the long article found in the above mentioned newspapers is, "The professor did not submit them (Peter’s bones?) to modern scientific tests, which would have determined the approximate age, because, she feared, the process would have reduced them to dust." How could any scientific study of bones be carried out without first scientifically determining the age of the person, or bones? This would be of the greatest interest and the most important for further research. Also any scientist or chemist knows that you do not have to submit the whole skeleton for testing to determine the age. A part of the shin bone or of a rib would be sufficient. It appears that she was protecting her "Peter’s bones" from another [pg. 20] possible disaster, which a wrong age would have caused. The Vatican and others have calculated through all existing evidence that Peter lived to be around 80 and 82 years, and that he died around the years of 62 or 64 A.D. These figures go along perfectly, as does everything else in the case, with the remains found in the Christian burial ground on the Mount of Olives and in the ossuary on which was "clearly and beautifully written," Simon Bar Jona in Aramaic.

The following was taken from the book, Races of Mankind, page 161: "Strained attempts to have Peter, the Apostle to the Hebrews of the East, in Paul’s territory at Rome and martyred there are unworthy of serious consideration in the light of all contemporary evidence. At his age (eighty-two), that would not have been practicable. In none of Paul’s writings is there the slightest intimation that Peter ever had been or was at that city. All statements to the contrary were made centuries later and are fanciful and hearsay. The Papacy was not organized until the second half of the 8th century. It broke away from the Eastern Church (in the Ency. Brit., 13th Ed., vol. 21, page 636) under Pippin III; also the Papacy, by Abbe Guette."
The great historian, Schaff, states that the idea of Peter being in Rome is irreconcilable with the silence of the Scriptures, and even with the mere fact of Paul’s epistle to the Romans. In the year 58, Paul wrote his epistle to the Roman church, but does not mention Peter, although he does name 28 leaders in the church at Rome (Rom. 16:7). It must, therefore, be concluded that if the whole subject is faced with detached objectivity, the conclusion must inevitably be reached that Peter was never in Rome. Paul lived and wrote in Rome, but he declared that "Only Luke is with me." [1 Tim. 4:11]