Vatican City (AsiaNews) –“Being with the Church and acceptance of its weaknesses” requires “humility” and “simplicity”, because “only God is truly holy, we are in need of His forgiveness”. The Pope made these observations today to over 40 thousand people gathered for the general audience in St Peter’s square, during reflections on the limitations of a great figure in Church history, Tertullian. Among the crowds were the parents of little Maddie, Madeleine Mc Cann the 4 year old English child, abducted May 3rd in Portugal. The Pope greeted the parents, Gerry and Kate briefly at the end of the audience; they hope this encounter will help them further inform public opinion about the event.
Returning to “the line of great figures from the ancient Church, who still today are considered masters of the faith” Benedict XVI focused on the personality of Tertullian, the African apologist from the late II early III centuries, “the first great Christian author to write in Latin”, who communicates the positive essence of Christianity and illustrates its rational foundations.
He underlined that Tertullian, is most famous for his apologetic writings, in which he aims to “counter grave pagan accusations against the Church” and “present positively the Gospel”, in dialogue with the culture of the time, but above all “denounce the un just behaviour of the political authorities of the time towards the Church, by explaining the Christian customs , illustrate the new religion” and show the triumph of the Spirit, which opposes the violence of the persecutors with the fact that “Christians blood is an effective seed, in the end their suffering will be victorious”. In fact, in a special way Tertullian exhorts Christians to have hope in those times of persecution, exalting hope not only as a virtue, but as “a characteristic which invests every aspect of Christian existence”.
The Pope recalled that it was he who defined human nature as “naturaliter christiana” and maintained that “a Christian cannot hate, not even his own enemies” and that this is the moral repercussion of the choice of a faith which “proposes non violence as a way of life”.
The Pope continued that from the human point of view, one can speak of a drama which plagued Tertullian: with the passing of the years he became ever more exigent of Christians: above all he expected them to face persecution heroically. In the end he found himself isolated: “an overly individualistic search for the truth along with his intemperance led to his breaking from communion with the Church to become a follower of the Montanist sect”. Still today “there is open debate regarding his behaviour”.
“This great personality – commented the Pope – this figure so rigid in his convictions, who demanded Christians face persecution heroically, spurs me to thought. In the end it becomes clear that he lacked simplicity, the humility to become one with the Church, accepting its weaknesses”.