Pope, at audience, says scripture must be read with humility

By Carol Glatz
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Christians must read sacred scripture with humility and the desire to gain spiritual nourishment, not "theoretical knowledge" of God's word, Pope Benedict XVI said.

"Intellectual humility is the most important rule for whoever seeks to penetrate supernatural reality starting with sacred writings," he said during his June 4 general audience in St. Peter's Square.

Delving into scripture solely to "satisfy one's own desires for knowledge means to give in to the temptation of pride and to expose oneself to the risk of slipping into heresy," he said.

The pope's remarks continued his catechesis on the life and teachings of St. Gregory the Great. The sixth-century pope and doctor of the church "was a passionate reader of the Bible," Pope Benedict said.

He said St. Gregory believed Christians ought to glean from sacred Scripture "not so much theoretical knowledge but rather daily nourishment for their soul."

Reading and contemplating sacred writings with humility is indispensable for "really entering deeply into the text" and reaping spiritual benefits, he said.

"Only with this intellectual humility can one really listen (and) finally understand the voice of God," he said.

The pope said St. Gregory's writings also illustrated what he considered to be the ideal bishop: "a teacher and guide of his flock" and an excellent preacher who understands the needs and problems of his people and the times and challenges the local community and humanity are facing.

The bishop must be a role model for others so that "his behavior may be a reference point for everyone," the pope said.

He said that, as pope, St. Gregory upheld "the prerogatives of the see of Rome," but he still respected the rights and legitimate autonomy of the patriarchs of Antioch, Alexandria and Constantinople.

He said St. Gregory remained a monk at heart and was "decisively against grand titles," stressing instead the importance of humility as the "fundamental virtue of every bishop."

"He was intimately struck by God's humility, that Christ became our servant, he washed us and washes dirty feet," he said.

St. "Gregory was convinced that, above all, a bishop should imitate this humility of God and that way follow Christ," the pope said.

Out of his love for God, St. Gregory lived his life as a servant of the servants of God even during a time that was "full of tribulation and suffering," said the pope.

His being a servant of servants "shows us the true measure of greatness," the pope said.

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