MURCIA, Spain, DEC. 2, 2002 (Zenit.org).- Is it pretentious for Christians to proclaim Christ as the only Savior of mankind?
Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger posed that question Saturday, and in his response clarified the very meaning of the Christian mission.
The cardinal was addressing the congress on “Christ: Way, Truth and Life,” which brought together world-renowned theologians at the Catholic University of St. Anthony.
“Isn’t it arrogant to speak of truth in matters of religion to the point of affirming that truth, the only truth, has been found in one’s own religion?” the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith added.
Addressing an audience of 3,000, Cardinal Ratzinger said that “today it has become a slogan of enormous repercussion to reject, as simultaneously simplistic and arrogant, all those who can be accused of believing that they ‘possess’ the truth.”
“These people, it seems, are unable to dialogue; therefore, they cannot be taken seriously, because truth is not ‘possessed’ by anyone,” the cardinal added, outlining the thesis of relativism. “We can only be in search of truth. However, against this affirmation one can object: What search is this about, if one can never arrive at the goal?”
“Are these people really searching, or is it that they do not wish to find the truth, because what they will find should not be?” he continued.
“Naturally, truth cannot be a possession; before it, I must always be one of humble acceptance, of being conscious of my own risk and accepting knowledge as a gift, of which I am not worthy, of which I cannot be vainglorious as if it were an achievement of mine,” Cardinal Ratzinger clarified.
“If I have been given the truth, I must consider it as a responsibility, which also presupposes service to others,” he explained. “Faith also affirms that the unlikeness between what is known by us and reality itself is infinitely greater than the likeness.”
In reality, the arrogant one is the relativist, the cardinal said.
“Isn’t it arrogant to say that God cannot give us the gift of truth?” he asked. “Is it not contempt for God to say that we have been born blind and that truth is not our concern?”
“Real arrogance” consists in “wanting to take God’s place and to determine who we are, what we do, what we want to make of ourselves and of the world,” the cardinal continued.
Therefore, “the only thing that we can do is to recognize with humility that we are unworthy messengers who do not proclaim ourselves, but who speak with holy fear of what is not ours, but of what comes from God,” he added.
“Only in this way is the missionary task intelligible, which cannot mean spiritual colonialism, the submission of others to my culture and ideas,” the cardinal emphasized. “In the first place, the mission calls for preparation for martyrdom, a willingness to lose oneself for the love of truth and of one’s neighbor.
“Only in this way is the mission credible. Truth cannot and must not have any other weapon than itself.”