Remembering Pope Benedict XVI: Encounter and Truth

Thomas Griffin 1/3/23 (For The Federalist)

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Excerpt: “In his encyclical (formal letter written by a pope) called Deus Caritas Est (“God is Love,” in English), Benedict noted, “Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction.” As a learned theologian and a man of intense prayer, Benedict knew that people needed to hear this message: Being Christian is about a relationship with a person who actually lived and is alive today.”

“So many confuse the church’s mission and reason for existence. The church does not exist to bore its worshippers on Sundays, take their money, and give them orders on how to live their lives. The church exists as the concrete reality by which people today can experience Jesus as God and as having risen from the dead. Encounter-focused faith was a major mark of the pope’s ministry because without this being conveyed, Christianity, and the rest of the world, would disintegrate.”

“This is what our world needs to hear more than anything else. We are made for relationships, we need one another, and if the No. 1 relationship in our life (the one with God) is not alive, everything else crumbles. As noted in a recent article in The Federalist entitled “If Your Kids Are Unhappy, Take Them To Church,” Mary Rose Kulczak shows that attending worship leads to higher grades and a healthier sense of self-worth. “

“Sherry Weddell, author of a groundbreaking work in the Catholic Church entitled “Forming Intentional Disciples,” cites data that notes that a person’s belief in a personal God with whom they can have a relationship is directly correlated to whether they attend church on Sundays. It is all about encounter. If we know we are truly seen and loved by God and that we are truly seen and loved by others, the human spirit lives life to the fullest and feels fulfilled. Benedict XVI knew this in his bones, and he craved to transmit this truth to the world.”

“The former pope also constantly spoke about the need to clarify the truth and fight against what he called the dictatorship of relativism. The definition of truth is the correct correlation between one’s mind and reality. Relativism is the doctrine that knowledge, truth, and morality exist in relation to culture, society, or historical context and are not absolute. Benedict consistently noted that this is the root of all of the issues of modern culture and society.”


Thomas Griffin is the chairperson of the religion department at a Catholic high school on Long Island where he lives with his wife and two sons. He has a masters degree in theology and is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Empty Tomb Project: The Magazine.

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