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ROME, September 10, 2012 ( – In our times the “idea of truth and that of intolerance are almost completely fused,” so that anyone claiming to possess an immutable truth is automatically accused and dismissed, Pope Benedict XVI said last week.

“We fear being bound by rules that hinder our freedom and the newness of life.”


“Which of us would dare to rejoice in the truth that we have been given? The question immediately arises: but how can one have the truth? This is intolerance! Today the idea of truth and that of intolerance are almost completely fused, and so we no longer dare to believe in the truth or to speak of the truth,” Benedict said.

He said that Catholics have lost the confidence that their faith has been given to them by God. In the Catholic Church of our times, the pope said, “we are precisely at that impasse in which we see in the Church only what we ourselves have made, and our joy in the faith is marred; that we no longer believe” that the truths of the faith were given by God “for an upright life”.

The pope was addressing the three-day meeting of 40 of his former theology students, an annual event at the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo. The meeting is called the Ratzinger Schülerkreis (Ratzinger Student Circle) and has taken place every summer since 1977. This year the meeting focused on ecumenical dialogue between the Catholic Church and Lutherans and Anglicans.

His homily at the closing mass for the meeting, brought forward one of the leading themes of his papacy: that those who reject moral relativism and uphold objective moral truth are often accused of bigotry or hatred by the secular world. But this Divine Law, the pope said, is what helps us live fully human lives. It gives us an understanding not of how to order our civic structures, but “how to be human in the right way”.

The nature of the universal Divine Law is substantively different from man-made laws. Divine Law, he said, “is wisdom”.

“Wisdom is the art of being human, the art of being able to live well and of being able to die well. And one can live and die well only when the truth has been received and shows us the way.”

It makes us “free from the shadow of groping along in ignorance — what am I? why am I? how should I move forward?”

The pope started with the biblical understanding of the notion of the Law, as it was given to the Israelites by God. This law, he said, is not seen “as a constraint, as something that takes from us our freedom, but as a present and a gift”. The “humble joy of Israel … is different from triumphalism, from the pride that comes from ourselves,” and from man-made laws.

“Israel knows: this law was not made by her, it was not the fruit of her genius, it was a gift…

“It is the truth that possesses us, it is a living thing! We do not possess it but are held by it. Only if we allow ourselves to be guided and moved by the truth, do we remain in it.”