Pope Says Theologians Need Humility

Reflects on Tertullian’s Lack of Tolerance

VATICAN CITY, MAY 30, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI says Tertullian’s life offers a reflection on the need for humility, which the Pope says is the “essential characteristic of a great theologian.” The Holy Father spoke about Tertullian, a second-century theologian and apologist, at today’s general audience in St. Peter’s Square.

With his reflection on Tertullian, Benedict XVI resumed his series of catecheses on the Apostolic Fathers. He had interrupted the series with his trip to Brazil and last week’s overview of the apostolic trip’s highlights.

“This great moral and intellectual personality, this man who gave such a great contribution to Christian thought, makes me think,” the Pope said of Tertullian. “It is evident that at the end he lacks simplicity, the humility to belong to the Church, to accept his weaknesses, to be tolerant of others and with himself.

“When you evaluate your thought in terms of your greatness, in the end it is this greatness that is lost.”

Benedict XVI noted that Tertullian gradually left communion with the Church and joined a Montanist sect.

“The essential characteristic of a great theologian is the humility to stay with the Church, to accept her and ones own faults, because only God is all holy,” the Pontiff said. “We, on the other hand, are always in need of forgiveness.”

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