Judas Iscariot, the disciple who betrayed Jesus with a kiss, is to be given a makeover by Vatican scholars.
The proposed “rehabilitation” of the man who was paid 30 pieces of silver to identify Jesus to Roman soldiers in the Garden of Gethsemane, comes on the ground that he was not deliberately evil, but was just “fulfilling his part in God’s plan.”
I've always said this. The betrayal-with-a-kiss is the linchpin of the whole Jesus story. Without it, there's no crucifixion, and without a crucifixion there isn't any Jesus story at all.
So Judas was set up to take the fall since before he was born. Jesus (who is all-knowing) always knew Judas would betray him. God (also all-knowing) always knew, too. From the moment the universe sprung into existence Judas was slotted to be Jesus's betrayer. So we really have to wonder: Did he ever have a choice? Is it really his fault?
Wikipedia takes on many of the same questions in its entry on Judas
* If Jesus foresees Judas' betrayal, then it may be argued that Judas has no free will, and cannot avoid betraying Jesus. If Judas cannot control his betrayal of Jesus, then he is not morally responsible for his actions. The question has been approached by Thomas Aquinas in his Summa Theologiae, which differentiates between foreknowledge and predestination, and argues that the omnipotence of the divine is not sufficient grounds for eliminating the existence of free will.
* If Judas is sent to Hell for his betrayal, and his betrayal was a necessary step in the humanity-saving death of Jesus Christ, then Judas is being punished for saving humanity. This goes hand-in-hand with the "free will" argument, and Aquinas's Summa deals with the issue of free will in demons and other beings instrumental in the life of Jesus that are nevertheless damned.
* If Jesus only suffered while dying on the cross, and then ascended into Heaven, while Judas must suffer for eternity in Hell, then Judas has suffered much more for the sins of humanity than Jesus, and his role in the Atonement is that much more significant. Standard Christian dogma holds that the suffering of Jesus was infinite, and that the suffering of Jesus was not time-dependent. This position holds throughout orthodox Catholicism and many forms of Protestantism.
* Do Jesus' last words on the cross, "Father forgive them, they know not what they do," not apply to Judas? Is his atonement insufficient for Judas' sin(s)? [+/-]
So at worst Judas is merely another pawn in God's Glorious Plan™, and he's possibly a hero. Either way, it's time to cut the guy some slack. See also.