Only in Truth Does Charity Shine Forth
Posted by Brian Williams
There is a passage very early in Pope Benedict’s third and final encyclical, “Caritas in Veritate”, which beautifully refutes the erroneous notion that love can be divorced from truth. It is with an economy of words and the clarity found in authenticity that Benedict speaks to a contemporary culture which argues that truth is subjective and morality self-defined. From “Caritas in Veritate”:
“Through this close link with truth, charity can be recognized as an authentic expression of humanity and as an element of fundamental importance in human relations, including those of a public nature. Only in truth does charity shine forth, only in truth can charity be authentically lived. Truth is the light that gives meaning and value to charity…Without truth, charity degenerates into sentimentality. Love becomes an empty shell, to be filled in an arbitrary way. In a culture without truth, this is the fatal risk facing love. It falls prey to contingent subjective emotions and opinions, the word “love” is abused and distorted, to the point where it comes to mean the opposite. Truth frees charity from the constraints of an emotionalism that deprives it of relational and social content, and of a fideism that deprives it of human and universal breathing-space. In the truth, charity reflects the personal yet public dimension of faith in the God of the Bible, who is both Agápe and Lógos: Charity and Truth, Love and Word.”
BENEDICT XVI, Encyclical Letter Caritas in Veritate (29 June 2009), 3.
PHOTO: CNS/L’Osservatore Romano via Reuters