FROM Dr. Robert Moynihan

“Reading today, I came across a brief passage from the conversation between Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and German writer Peter Seewald, part of a book which was published in September 2016 as Last Testament. (Here is alink to the book, the passage in question is from pages 240-241.)

It is a passage where the Emeritus Pope speaks about the centrality of truth in his life.

Benedict says: “If we omit the truth, what do we do anything for?”


Here is the passage:

Seewald: What should be on your gravestone?

His Holiness Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI: [Chuckles] I would say: nothing! Only the name.

Seewald: Your bishop motto comes to mind: “Co-worker of the truth.” (Cf. the Third Letter of John, 8:1) How did you actually come to that?

His Holiness: Like this: 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’s third letter 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.

Seewald: “Co-worker of the truth” would actually be something for your gravestone.

His Holiness: Certainly, yes. I would say if it’s already my motto you can set in on my gravestone” AMEN!