Deus, qui universum mundum
beati Pauli apostoli praedicatione docuisti,
da nobis, quaesumus,
ut, cuius conversionem hodie celebramus,
per eius ad te exempla gradientes,
tuae simus mundo testes veritatis.
O God, who taught the whole world
by the preaching of the blessed Apostle Paul,
grant us, we beg,
that, walking toward You through the example of him
whose conversion we are celebrating today,
we may always be witnesses of Your truth to the world.
Today was the release of Deus caritas est, the first and, in a sense, “programmatic” encyclical of His Holiness Pope Benedict. Already in his short pontificate, Benedict has been stressing certainly and clearly the concept of the Truth. For example, in his first address to the Cardinal Electors after the Conclave ( 20 April 2005) he referred (in Latin) to Lumen gentium 1 the “unifying power of Truth and Love”. In his 24 April 2005 “inaugural” sermon he spoke of his own role as shepherd, saying, ” Loving means giving the sheep what is truly good, the nourishment of God’s truth, of God’s word, the nourishment of his presence, which he gives us in the Blessed Sacrament.” His 1 January 2006 Message for the World Day of Peace examined deeply the relationship of peace and the truth, especially by looking at the damage that lies and lying do to man’s dignity and the bonds of society. Now, in his first encyclical he is looking the truth of man’s nature and the true meaning of “love”.
Let us remember that for his motto on his episcopal coat-of-arms, he took a phrase not from a Pauline text, but from 3 John 8: “cooperatores veritatis. In his interview book called God and the World: A Conversation with Peter Seewald, Joseph Ratzinger explained why he chose this motto,
“…if we abandon the concept of truth, then we abandon our foundation. For it is characteristic of Christianity, from the beginning, that the Christian faith does not primarily transmit practices or observances, as is the case with many other religions, which consist above all in the observance of certain ritual rules.
Christianity makes its appearance with the claim to tell us something about God and the world and ourselves– something that is true and that enlightens us. On this basis I came to recognize that, in the crisis of an age in which we have have a great mass of communications about truth in natural science, but with respect to the questions essential for man we are sidelined into subjectivism, what we need above all is to seek anew for truth, with a new courage to recognize truth. In that way, this saying handed down from our origins, which I have chosen as my motto, defines something of the function of a priest and a theologian, to wit, that he should, in all humility, and knowing his own fallibility, seek to be a co-worker of the truth.