From God and the World
Your motto as a bishop runs "co-worker of the truth". How did you come by this expression?
I am of course, as is only right, a keen reader of Holy Scripture, and I came upon this phrase, which somehow fascinated me right from the beginning, in the Third Letter of John. Its meaning is in the first instance rather limited. Whoever receives the messengers of the good news becomes thereafter a fellow worker of the truth. And by accepting the messengers he himself is already sharing in this work, in this world.
I must say that I felt very strongly within myself the crisis of the claim of truth during the decades of my teaching work as a professor. What I feared was that the way we use the idea of the truth of Christianity was sheer arrogance, yes, and even a lack of respect for others The question was how far may we still use it?
I have really thoroughly explored this question. In the end I could see that if we abandon the concept of truth, then we abandon our foundation. For it is characteristic of Christianity, from the beginning, that the Christian faith does not primarily transmit practices or observances, as is the case with many other religions, which consist above all in the observance of certain ritual rules.
Christianity makes its appearance with the claim to tell us something about God and the world and ourselves– something that is true and that enlightens us. On this basis I came to recognize that, in the crisis of an age in which we have have a great mass of communications about truth in natural science, but with respect to the questions essential for man we are sidelined into subjectivism, what we need above all is to seek anew for truth, with a new courage to recognize truth. In that way, this saying handed down from our origins, which I have chosen as my motto, defines something of the function of a priest and a theologian, to wit, that he should, in all humility, and knowing his own fallibility, seek to be a co-worker of the truth.