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Thought for the Week – 8th January 2023

Pope Benedict

Last Thursday was the funeral of Pope Benedict XV. I would not normally find much value in the thoughts of a conservative Pope and indeed, I do disagree with him on quite a few issues. I also suspect even his admirers will admit he was not a great leader. But the tributes that have been paid to him, by people who I do respect, have made me think again about the man. Benedict, first and foremost, was a scholar and a person who taught that Christianity was “reasonable”, in contrast to some beliefs and philosophies. By this, he actually meant that the Christian faith is open to study by human reason; we can and should use our minds as well as our emotions to engage with it and there are no places where we should not venture. From this came an important conclusion; because Christianity can be studied and debated, in turn Christians can apply their reasoning to critique society and politics. Faith is not just a private eccentricity, to be tolerated as long as nobody mentions it in public; it must challenge and engage in public debate. He particularly condemned what he called the “tyranny of relativism”; that there is no such thing as an absolute truth. In an age when some, especially in politics, seem determined to push their own view of what is true and false, in contradiction to reality, it is well to remember that in God we are confronted with absolute truth.

Rev David Poyner