BENEDICT XVI - A STEADFAST DEFENDER OF THE TRUTH
The truth – as a notion and human road – is a key of the pontificate of Benedict XVI
A fragile, small and a great theologian, a philosopher, a steadfast defender of faith fundaments and the Christian civilisation, is saying farewell to God’s people and the world.
We are crying but we do not lose confidence of faith that he is resigning from holding the papal ministry for the sake of a kind of great mystery which is the good of the Church. In his talk with Peter Seewald he said: ‘The history of the world is a fight between two kinds of love: love to oneself- till the destruction of the world and love to others – till the resignation from oneself. This visible fight lasts also in our times’ (‘Light of the world’, p.50). He resigned from himself, which astonished the world. The message reached even the furthest places of the world. The voice of the Holy Father Benedict XVI reached even the furthest places of the Earth. He resigned from himself but not from proclaiming the truth. Through this shocking and difficult resignation, the truth which he proclaims, is reaching to the Church and the world. On the opening of the conclave in 2005, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger said: ‘Dictatorship of relativism is appearing, which does not acknowledge anything as final and treats oneself and one’s desires as the only norm’. He undertook a fight against this dictatorship in the name of the truth as Benedict XVI. He said: ‘However, the truth points out to permanent values which made humankind great. Therefore we must learn humility anew and practise it in order to accept the truth and allow it to be normative (p.62).
Steadfast despite of loneliness
Benedict XVI, as the voice of the Gospel truth, the symbol of the Church and its unity, became a dangerous man for those who want to build the world without Christ or the Church. It is easy to govern and manipulate this kind of the world. Hence, the Holy Father became a subject of big and various attacks.
A French philosopher Alain Besancon wrote: ‘Pontificate of Benedict XVI is associated with a note of pain. John Paul II, fighting the terrible regime of communism, was supported by nearly whole societies and nations. Benedict XVI is facing the whole modern society with its new morality and new religiousness, which is against him’. His road is a fight against the so-called modernity. A fight for the truth in minds and human hearts. Benedict XVI steadfastly showed that the truth exists and a man who is looking for it, and finds it, is himself and knows where this road leads to. The truth makes the man free. However, in order to find the truth, we need to experience God who is the truth. Benedict XVI proclaimed this truth ‘in season and out of season’ (see 2 Tm 4.2). He taught and showed that we must broaden the space of mind in order to see not only what can be subjected to a scientific experiment , but the whole truth about God and the man created for the image of God. God created ‘a man and a woman’ (see Genesis Book 1.27). The Pope showed this truth with the power of his authority, saying about the values of human life, marriage and family. His attitude was against the ‘gender’ ideology, various experiments and abuses in the area of human sexuality. Otherwise, the man falls into a trap of nihilism which leads to auto-destruction.
In the fight for the truth, Benedict XVI clashed with the suggestions of post-modernism and relativism, which deprive the man of reason and the truth and endanger with auto-destruction of the whole humankind. In the defence of these ideologies, the contemporary media became tools of throwing stones at the Pope. In the century of the ‘political correctness’ attacking the pope belongs also to the world of politics. Not only were all lies, slanders, insults allowed towards Benedict XVI, but they were also well-perceived. Unfortunately, even in Poland!
Benedict XVI knew the reality of the anti-Christian culture. ‘A humble worker of Lord’s vineyard’ knew which difficulties he was going to face up to. During the inauguration of his pontificate he said: ‘A fragile boat of thinking among many Christians is in the middle of dangerous waves, and a danger of its being crashed is realistic…Pray for me, so that I would not escape with fright from wolves’ (24 April 2005). He did not escape, although he abdicated, giving a chance to the Church to choose his successor. He never escaped!
In truth and love
He did not escape from undertaking the most difficult challenges in the name of the truth. In the name of the truth he clashed with the Jewish world, he wanted the case of the beatification of Pius XII to be unblocked. He did not fight against any religion, but he experienced constant protests and insults. Painful experiences appeared from the Islamic world because of his lecture in Ratyzbon on 12 September 2006, when quoting a Byzantine emperor, he said that Mahomet had introduced also ‘bad and inhuman things’. He did not get frightened of the protests because the quotation had been taken out of context. He continued on speaking that Islam must explain two issues in the public dialogue, that is, the issue of its attitude towards violence and the reason. Thanks to it, a dialogue among the scholars of the Islam started, discussing these problems. An interpretation was presented which is also leading to talks with Christianity. Benedict XVI hosted Anglicans wanting to return to the communion with Rome. He started a dialogue with the Orthodox religion. The Holy Father had to take on himself also a list of ‘faults’ assigned to the Church. There are faults, sins and pseudo-faults. But they are. and the Pope was aware of it. In 2005, presiding the meditation of the stations of the Cross, he said, that in the Church there is also ‘dirt’. He was not frightened of the truth about the Church. For, the Church is the Church of the saints and sinners. He called this truth by name. He said: ‘It was impossible to miss the fact that not only pure desire of the truth caused press revelations, but also joy when the Church was discredited. Despite that it must always be clear that if there is truth, we must be grateful for every explanation. The truth connected with well-understood love is the value number one. After all, media could not inform in this way if there was not evil in the Church. Only for this reason that there was evil in the Church, it might have been used by others against the Church’ (see p. 39).
Proclaiming the truth, he also showed the greatness and wisdom of the Church: …but it is also necessary for us to be grateful to the Catholic Church and show how much light is flowing from it. If it was not so, it would lead to the collapse of whole configurations of the social life’ (see p. 43). For, societies and nations are grateful to the Church for the fundaments of civilisation and culture. This truth must be proclaimed with pride, although the contemporary world does not want to listen to it.
He abdicates but the steadfast God’s Servant is not leaving. He is going to support the Church with his prayer and humility. In his last message on the Ash Wednesday, he left us an appeal about the conversion and unity of the Church. It is our commitment! ‘Therefore it is necessary to ask the question about God anew in the centre of our thinking. It is not about God who somehow exists somewhere, but about God who knows us, who speaks to us and who cares about us – and who is also our Judge’. (see p. 60).