[Editor’s note: The following statement, by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, was first published in Italian on Duc in altum. Here below is the official English translation.]
We have seen all the news broadcasts about the new cardinals who have visited the pope emeritus, led by Pope Francis. The images of the two popes together with the new cardinals, purposely wanted and widely circulated, have once again a mystifying instrumental function: to show the complete harmony and continuity of the magisterium of the two popes. It has also been reported that Pope Benedict advised the new cardinals to be faithful and obedient to the Pope.
In reparation for the ignoble abuse committed against the pope emeritus and the unworthy exploitation of his image, it seems to me fitting and proper that the bishops gathered in the Synod for the Amazon to protect the “Mother Earth” – whence we came and whither we shall return — may also receive a word from Pope Benedict XVI, this time one that is authentic.
It comes to us from the homily of His Holiness Benedict XVI in the Eucharistic concelebration with the members of the International Theological Commission, in the Redemptoris Mater Chapel, on Friday, October 6, 2006.
And our speech and thoughts must always serve to ensure that what God says, the Word of God, is listened to and finds room in the world. Thus, once again we find ourselves invited to this process of for feiting our own words, this process of purification so that our words may be nothing but the instrument through which God can speak.
In this context, a beautiful phrase from the First Letter of St Peter springs to my mind. It is from verse 22 of the first chapter. The Latin goes like this: “Castificantes animas nostras in oboedentia veritatis.” Obedience to the truth must “purify” our souls and thus guide us to upright speech and upright action. In other words, speaking in the hope of being applauded, governed by what people want to hear out of obedience to the dictatorship of current opinion, is considered to be a sort of prostitution: of words and of the soul. The “purity” to which the Apostle Peter is referring means not submitting to these standards, not seeking applause, but rather, seeking obedience to the truth. And I think that this is the fundamental virtue for the theologian, this discipline of obedience to the truth, which makes us, although it may be hard, collaborators of the truth, mouthpieces of truth, for it is not we who speak in today’s river of words, but it is the truth which speaks in us, who are really purified and made chaste by obedience to the truth. So it is that we can truly be harbingers of the truth.
Benedict concludes his homily with these words:
“He who hears you, hears me.” What an admonition! What an examination of conscience those words are! Is it true that those who hear me are really listening to the Lord? Let us work and pray so that it may be ever more true that those who hear us hear Christ. Amen!
+ Carlo Maria Viganò