"a friend of the Pope, [he] is considered by Roman prelates to be a leading authority on the Christian scriptures."
"A senior Catholic source in England told The Times: “It is a wonderful story of forgiveness and mercy through the eyes of someone who never believed Jesus was God. Moloney has brought the four Gospels together into one. Even if only half of Jeffrey Archer’s readers buy the book, millions of people will read the Gospel for the first time.”"
It seemed somewhat fishy to me: after all, I had heard Moloney on the radio myself, declaring that St. Matthew's Gospel was not to be trusted because it had lifted the whole of the "death of Judas" account verbatim from the Old Testament. I am no Scripture scholar, but I always understood that St. Matthew's whole style was geared towards showing how Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies: using an OT text which would resonate strongly with his readers to explain how the death of Judas fitted in with the whole plan doesn't make it any less true.
However, the Times Online article did seem to suggest that maybe, in my morning confusion, I might have misheard or misinterpreted the whole thing. I duly prepared to eat humble pie by drafting an outline apology for throwing an outraged tantrum at yet another "heresy" !
And then the illustrious Curt Jester weighed in with an excellent post ripping the English media hype to shreds... and correcting several factual inaccuracies along the way:
1. The Pope did not "bless" the Archer-Moloney novel.
2. The Pontifical Biblical Institute provided the bottled water at the speaker's rostrum for the 3. Archer-Moloney press conference. Its scholars had nothing whatever to do with the book's content.
4. The Archer-Moloney novel was not "published with Vatican approval."
5. No biblical scholar, including my former colleague Fr. Frank Moloney, believes Fr. Frank Moloney to be "the world's greatest living biblical scholar."
6. Fr. Moloney is not "one of the Pope's top theological advisers."
7. The International Theological Commission, of which Fr. Moloney was a member, enjoys the same level of teaching authority as the Philatelic Office of the Holy See -- that's to say: zero.
Finally, a comment on another post of mine about the SOR Prayer Rally suggested that the reason for the absence of any of the Westminster Cathedral authorities from the rally was that they had bigger fish to fry, namely the launch of the Archer-Moloney book in Westminster Cathedral Hall... a major booboo, in my humble opinion.
Mgr. Mark Langham put up a post in which he attempts to justify allowing the use of the Cathedral Hall:
"Many people would point out that there is a difference between a book of scholarly investigation, and a novel that employs plausible data, such as this."
Umm... unfortunately Archer and Moloney are themselves trying to present this as a book of scholarly investigation... Archer is on record as saying that the book is not a novel. If it was being marketed as "just a novel," I wouldn't be hopping up and down with frustration at yet another attack on the core beliefs of Christianity... Mgr. Langham goes on to say,
"However, Professor Moloney is a Biblical Scholar of the highest standing within the Church, and a friend of Cardinal Martini."
From what I have read and heard, the Cardinal is hardly a bastion of orthodoxy... and besides which, I have a very good Baptist friend - I would trust her with my life, but we have profoundly different views on the Real Presence, and other religious matters.
I think Mgr. Langham realised what a booboo had been made: in the comments box, he states,
"Perhaps we were somewhat naive, but when the lauch takes place in the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome, no less, with the involvement of Cardinal Martini and Bishop Clemens, and the co-authorship of a respected biblical scholar, it is hard to say no."
With all due respect, I would say that, no matter how hard it is to say "No," it is the duty of our shepherds to fight against such attacks on the Faith. If the Bishops had said "No" to the Government a little more firmly in the past, then we wouldn't be facing such anti-Christian legislation now.