From the Pope’s homily the day before: 

Judgement – doesn’t this word also make us afraid? On the other hand,
doesn’t everyone want to see justice eventually rendered to all those
who were unjustly condemned, to all those who suffered in life, who
died after lives full of pain? Don’t we, all of us, want the outrageous
injustice and suffering which we see in human history to be finally
undone, so that in the end everyone will find happiness, and everything
will be shown to have meaning? This triumph of justice, this joining
together of the many fragments of history which seem meaningless and
giving them their place in a bigger picture in which truth and love
prevail: this is what is meant by the concept of universal judgement.
Faith is not meant to instil fear; rather it is meant to call us to
accountability. We are not meant to waste our lives, misuse them, or
spend them simply for ourselves. In the face of injustice we must not
remain indifferent and thus end up as silent collaborators or outright
accomplices. We need to recognize our mission in history and to strive
to carry it out. What is needed is not fear, but responsibility –
responsibility and concern for our own salvation, and for the salvation
of the whole world. Everyone needs to make his or her own contribution
to this end. But when responsibility and concern tend to bring on fear,
then we should remember the words of Saint John: "My little ones, I am
writing this to keep you from sin. But if anyone should sin, we have an
advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous one" (1 Jn 2:1).   
"No matter what our hearts may charge us with  – God is greater than our hearts and all is known to him" (ibid., 3:20).

In a speech about reason and the place of theology in the university, Pope Benedict XVI quotes part of the forceful argument (disputatio) of an ancient Christian.  He uses the quote to illustrate the depth of passion the speaker (that ancient Christian) in speaking to a person of another faith.  It is one sentence in a speech that is itself passionate about the role of reason in faith.  Aside from the arguably unwise insertion of that quote, the speech is quite interesting.  The academic and Scriptoral knowledge and articulation thereof is moving, interesting, intelligent, cohesive, coherent, thoughtful and profound. 

That quote, however, taken out of context and given emphasis manages to weaken the whole message.  Could the Pope have made his argument without the quote – absolutely, yes.  Would his argument have been as powerful – I think so.  Why, then, is it included?  Why would an intelligent, thoughtful, faithfilled person injudiciously say something that could be used against him, his Church and his persuasive argument?  Unless he tells us, we can’t know.  Here are some guesses, though…  He’s busy, harried, running ragged; he’s hopelessly academic and assumes others will understand the context and usage of the quote; he’s weak, he’s tired, he’s traveling, he’s excited to be back in a university setting, he’s talking to other academics…. ummm, he’s human? 

If using that quote in a university lecture, if the Pope’s using that quote in a university lecture is a sin… well, he alone will face the judgement of that.  (Though we may all suffer in the here and now.)  We all face the judgement sooner or later.  And I for one like the way this Pope articulates that. 

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