06/04/2008, 00.00
VATICAN
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Pope: true greatness is in service of others

Once again illustrating the figure of Pope Gregory the Great, Benedict XVI highlights the meaning of the title that he coined, "servus servorum Dei". The hope that Vatican Council II "may bear fruit in us, and in the Church of the third millennium".

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - True greatness is in service and humility, as demonstrated by the life and example of Saint Gregory the Great, who called himself "servus servorum Dei", servant of the servants of God, which for him "is not a formula, but an expression of his way of living and acting".  The great pope of the sixth century was again presented by Benedict XVI to the 15,000 participants at the general audience, to whom, today, he illustrated the basic teachings of a saint who, "struck by the humility of God, who made himself our servant in Christ, who washed our feet", "made himself servant of the servants, and precisely for this reason was great and shows to us the figure of true greatness".  This is a model that, in the words of the pope today, apply in particular to the pope and the bishops, who "should follow this example, out of love of God".

After outlining the life of the great pope last week, Benedict XVI today illustrated his thought, gathered from his works - 800 letters and numerous writings, in particular his pastoral rule - and from his life. 

"A passionate reader of the Bible, which the Christian should use as a source not so much of theoretical knowledge as of daily nourishment for his life in this world", Gregory the Great never seems concerned about presenting his own views, but rather the teaching of the Church, "especially about the journey that must be made in order to reach God ".

Illustrating his works, Benedict XVI emphasised his attitude of intellectual humility, "an essential rule" for those who want to penetrate the Scripture, but which "does not mean an absence of serious studies".  This humility "is indispensable, it is only with intellectual humility that one listens to, that one finally perceives the word of God"; it is "the primary rule for penetrating supernatural realities".  But "it is nothing if contemplation does not lead to action".  This conviction is expressed in some of the famous pairings expressed by Gregory the Great, like "knowing-doing, speaking-living, understanding-acting", "aspects of human life that should be complementary, but are often antithetical".

After emphasising the absence of "superficiality" that must characterise the attitude of the bishop in his role, the pope affirmed that "the bishop is first of all the preacher par excellence" and that "as such, he must be an example to others through his behaviour".  Then there is "the pastor's duty to recognise his own misery each day, in such a way that pride may not destroy the value of his accomplishments before the Supreme Judge".  "Instead of considering the good he has done, he must think of what he has overlooked", Gregory says in his rule.

The pope finally expressed the hope that Vatican Council II "may bear fruit in us and in the Church of the third millennium", addressing the people of Poland present for the audience, and taking his cue from the 45th anniversary of the death of John XXIII.  "The people called him 'Good Pope John'.  He was the one who convened Vatican Council II, who began the renewal of the Church, the reform of its structures and the updating of the liturgy". "May this reform", the pope concluded, "bear fruit in us and in the Church of the third millennium".

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