The Splendor of Truth Creates Unity
By Richard Salbato
"And we entreat the Lord with all our heart to guide us to full unity so that
the splendor of the truth, which alone can create unity,
will again become visible in the world,"
Pope Benedict XVI
Only Truth creates Unity
Since John XXIII the Catholic Church has worked to end the 1000 year old divisions in the Christian world. What caused these divisions was not Doctrine but power. Nonetheless, it was corrupting truth that gave excuses for these divisions. To bring back truth the last five Popes have asked the Christian world to come to the table and talk, dialogue.
Talk about what? Although the divisions have been power and pride, the excuse for these divisions has been truth. If we come to the same truth we come to unity and this is what must be talked about. To come together for these talks on truth, the leaders have given all kinds of reasons for dialogue - working together to end war, working together to end secularism, working together to end poverty, working together in love. They have also tried to point out what binds them together - the same love of Christ, the same bible, the same Baptism, in some cases the same Apostolic Succession and some of the same sacraments.
But in the end what divides is different perceptions of the truth of Christ and His Church. Only God has all the truth but what truth He has revealed to us we must hold as true. This revealed truth must be the glue the binds us together. There are some Christian truths that are not so important and others that are very important. The difference in the hierarchy of truths must also be found for there to be real unity of truth. Also in social or scientific unity there must be unity of truth.
Truth of God
Theology is the study of God and His creation. We have natural and supernatural theology. Natural is knowing God through natural reason and supernatural is knowing God through Divine Revelation - ratio naturalis, ratio fide illustrata, ea quae fata sut, revelatio divina, Deus unus, Crator et Dominus and Deus et Trius. Positive Dogmatic Theology is the Teaching Authority of the Church from Revelation, Scripture and Tradition.
The ideal lies in the harmonious coalescence of authority and reason and although the Authority of the Church is never flawed, reason is often flawed.
The Catholic Church teaches (infallibly) that if a baptized person deliberately denies or doubts a dogma properly so-called, he is guilty of the sin of heresy, and automatically becomes subject to excommunication, ipso facto (by the fact). The teaching of Christ that must be believed are classified by the way they are revealed - fides divina, fides catholica, de fide definita, fides ecclesiastica, etc. Those who do not even want to know what these mean may be classified as those who do not want to know truth other than the perception of truth in their own minds and prejudices.
In the early Church the prime doctrinal heresies were on the Nature of God (who and what is God) and of course this is very important because this is who we believe in. Between the seventh century and the turn of the millennium it was the different actions of the three people of the Trinity and Unity of God. In the fifteenth Century there came the arguments of what was essential to believe, in the eighteenth Century came the idea that everyone had a right to believe whatsoever they wanted and in the twentieth Century came (for the first time) the denial of God all together and the rise of Communism and Humanism.
You fight these heresies with truth and the proof of truth. But to fight you must be able to communicate and often people do not want to hear truth because it disturbs the pre-conceived ideas that they want to cling to. You must also know that people have different ideas of what words mean, like "Love", "Mercy", "Truth" and often we have conflicts because we have different ideas of the same words used. One of these words is "Church".
In a few months there will be a meeting between the different divided Churches to dialogue on theological doctrine. The theme of this meeting is the concept "Church". Once this concept is held by all the different Churches in the same way, there will be unity. This is the most important question and the most important truth for the sake of unity.
What does Christ mean by "His Church" and are we in it. To some this means united in Baptism, all the teachings of Christ, a physical unity and a unity in the Sacraments, to others only Baptism and Fundamental ideas of faith, to others, ritual, and to others profession and no more. What must be found and loved is what God meant by Church. Without this love of truth, there will never be unity. The concept "Church" is the essential truth that will bring people together.
Truth is Universal
One of the great heresies of the 20th Century is that truth is relative - what was true in the 7th Century is not true in the 20th - or what is true to one might not be true to another person. This is crazy. What is true is true for all times and for all people or it is not truth but perception. One can have a different perception of a truth because of upbringing or prejudices but no two opposite views on any truth can be true. They can be both wrong but they cannot be both right. Truth does not contradict truth.
Truth in History
History itself is untrue depending on who wrote it and what prejudices they had when writting it. To understand true history (or at least close to true history) you must read history from the eyes of many different people. The history of the Reformation in England from the eyes of Cranmer will be different than from the eyes of Thomas More. The history of American will be different from the eyes of Jefferson than it will be from English historians. In Islam the history of Mohamed is not the same as his history by Christians. Even the death of Christ, historically, is different by Christians, Jews and Moslems. And yet it is from history that we learn most truths, the history of science, the history of countries, the history of thought, the history of religion, the history of God. When we have a wrong education of one of these histories, we end up with a false belief.
Truth in Science
Even the truth of science, which is supposed to seek only truth falls far short of truth. Newton found truths and for years they were held as gospel, but latter others discovered that not all that Newton taught was true. Science is evolving towards truth but it has a long way to go. Every scientific "Truth" today will be found in time to be partly true and partly false.
No One Has All the Truth
Only God has all the truth, but we humans are human because we have a logical brain and this brain, this passion, this ability to learn seeks truth. It does not seek falsehood. Truth in every aspect of our lives is critical. But we must always seek what can never be known totally. What we know for sure, through logic and divine revelation, we must hold on to like a great gem, for it is in truth that we find God, peace, mercy and love. If we are truly human as apposed to animal, we learn truth little by little through history, whereas the animal is doomed to the same existence from one generation to the other. When the world ends we will not know all the truth, but we must seek it.
Are we the Judge of Truth?
Yes and No! We must judge what is true and what is not for this is how we come to believe a thing to be true. But if we judge based on a little knowledge of something, we are not going to come to a sound perception of truth. If we use all the facts known to the world at the time and use our cognitive reasoning we can come to a truth or at least a part truth that is sound.
Truth can be known through observation and deductive reasoning. Even things we cannot see or even imagine can be known through logic, like that fact that two parallel lines can never meet together if they are truly parallel. We can know but cannot see or even imagine that space has no end to it. We know by observation that everything physical changes in time.
In the realm of the supernatural there are truths we can know by divine revelation backed up by miracles. Miracles are facts and we cannot just pretend they do not exist. Miracles bear witness to the truth we find hard to understand or believe. But the fact of miracles should make logical minds cling to the supernatural truth that miracles bear witness to. Christ said, "If you do not believe me, believe my works." St. Paul said, "I do not come to you with great words, but with the power of God."
Our Perception of Truth
If we truly love truth we must see if what we believe to be true is not based on our background, family, friends, education, environment, and even our fears. If our perception of truth is based on limited knowledge and it differs from those more educated, we should look hard at why we differ from others on the same subject. Of course differences can be harmless like people seeing something from two different points of view, but important truths must be seen from all points of view and not from ignorance.
Nothing is more stupid than someone having an opinion on something that they know nothing about. The honest person will say, "I do not know." The proud person says, "I just know" even though he cannot make an argument for his belief.
Truth in Relationships
Pope Benedict XVI said, "truth enlightens, it allows one to discern the path of genuine human relationships, to correct errors, to be reconciled with oneself and with others, and to be transparent in negotiations and faithful to one's word."
If you know someone to lie, even if he is
lying to be kind or friendly, can you ever trust what he says? True friendships and true relationships
always are based on truth, even if that truth is to correct the errors of
another person, and even if that correction causes some friction. If we love truth, then we always
will the good of others, and not with our selfish desire to keep friendships at
the cost of truth.
Even that person who is guided by true mercy will yield his right on the
supposition only if he does not, by doing so, bring moral harm to his
Denying Truth for friendship
The biggest violation of truth comes from a false idea of friendship. Our desire for friends leads us to agree with others for the sake of harmony at the expense of truth. True friendships are based on truth because without this shared truth, everything is a phony friendship. People do not have to know everything about each other but those critical things that effect a relaxed harmony of a relationship must be based on honesty.
Insecure people will agree with anything to win a friend. Drug addicts cling to like minded people because it supports their ego and will not condemn them. This is not true love, but is self love. True love wills the good in others even if it causes friction and conflict. Without love, it is not true friendship. This is true in families and in love relationships. All relationships must be based on truth.
Unity Comes From The Love of Truth
All divisions come from clinging to false ideas or denying what we know to be true. Some people who know they are wrong about something in the past, but out of pride refuse to admit it, hold on to divisions, even promote their known lies to protect their own reputations, when all that it takes to have harmony is to admit and fault and ask forgiveness. Others who know the truth regarding others refuse to get involved less they create enemies by showing truth to those in fault, thereby allowing the lies to continue to harm the other person.
All would be better off if truth was loved and embraced for justice and peace. When we are divided over some issue that we truly believe to be truth then we should confront the person or persons with our evidence to the truth and hope that will be accepted so that harmony and love return to the relationships. Silence over problems will only divide people more. Confrontation, as hard is it seems to be, is better than harboring evil thoughts and hatred. The answer is to talk things out.
Dialogue Towards Truth
This is true of all divisions. We must talk and talk and talk until we all hold fast to the truth, in faith, in history, in relationships. When it comes to God, He is very exact when it comes to His truth, and this must be found in all love and justice. When it comes to divisions within the Church, this is not God like, and when it comes to divisions of different Churches this is against the will of God. We must find common ground and that common ground is truth no matter how painful it may be.
Teaching Truth with Love
"In Truth -- Peace" is the theme chosen by Benedict XVI for the first World Day of Peace of his pontificate, to be observed Jan. 1, 2006. "Catholicity signifies universality-- a multiplicity that becomes unity, a unity that remains despite the multiplicity," he said.
St. Irenaeus of Lyon: "This doctrine and this faith the Church, disseminated throughout the world, guards diligently, forming almost one single family: the same faith with only one soul and one heart, the same preaching, teaching, tradition as if having one voice. Churches of Germany do not have a different faith or tradition, as neither do those of Spain, of Gaul, of Egypt, of Libya, of the East, of the center of the earth, as the sun creature of God is only one and identical in the whole world, so the light of true preaching shines everywhere and enlightens all men who wish to come to the cognition of truth"
("Adversus Haereses" I,
This is the only way to unity ----- Truth. But how do we present this truth in a loving way.
In the next Newsletter we will show how in all Our Lady's apparitions She taught truth and fought against divisions of the Church. From Her methods we will learn now to preach truth without fear but do it in a loving way.
Next. Our Lady Defends Truth