December 5, 2016

Cooperatores veritatis

Today I finished Last Testament: In His Own Words. To be honest, I didn't find it as interesting as Seewald's other interview books, but if you appreciate Benedict XVI very much, as I do, you will enjoy it. Particularly interesting is the material about Joseph Ratzinger's younger life, especially the time around the Second World War.

I'll never forget the time of his election back in 2005. Nobody knew what it would mean. I was in my last semester of the M. Div. program at the former Weston Jesuit School of Theology, but looking forward to a couple more years there as an STL student. Wanting to acquaint myself better with the new Pope, I took Introduction to Christianity out of the library. It was so clear and sensible. I remember thinking, why didn't they give us this to read before?

At the very end of the book, Benedict says something about how he chose his episcopal motto, cooperatores veritatis, taken from 3 John 8:

"Therefore, we ought to support such persons [the missionaries Gaius is hosting], so that we may be co-workers in the truth." (Nos ergo debemus sublevare huiusmodi, ut cooperatores simus veritatis.)

The Pope emeritus says:
I had for a long time excluded the question of truth, because it seemed to be too great. The claim: 'We have the truth!' is something which no one had the courage to say, so even in theology we had largely eliminated the concept of truth. In these years of struggle, the 1970s, it became clear to me: if we omit the truth, what do we do anything for? So truth must be involved. 
Indeed, we cannot say 'I have the truth', but the truth has us, it touches us. And we try to let ourselves be guided by this touch. Then this phrase from John 3 [sic] crossed my mind, that we are 'co-workers of the truth'. One can work with the truth, because the truth is person. One can let truth in, try to provide the truth with value. That seemed to me finally to be the very definition of the profession of a theologian; that he, when he has been touched by this truth, when truth has caught sight of him, is now ready to let it take him into service, to work on it and for it.

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