“Truth is not determined by a majority vote,” the then Cardinal Ratzinger once said. Now again, in Jesus of Nazareth II, the Holy Father speaks of the vital importance of objective truth, particularly in reference to power and politics.
In his address in Westminster hall in September, the Pope asked, “The central question at issue, then, is this: where is the ethical foundation for political choices to be found?”
Without objective truth, this question seems impossible to answer.
As Fr Joseph Evans, Catholic chaplain to King’s College London writes, it all goes back to Pilate.
In this book the Holy Father once again insists on the importance of truth, something he has proclaimed ever since he became Pope, and has repeated in all his major speeches, and on all his journeys, including his visit to Britain. But truth is not some academic question.
As he shows, commenting on the episode of the Roman governor Pontius Pilate handing Jesus over to his accusers to be killed, it was Pilate’s willingness to compromise with the truth that led to the condemnation of a man he himself knew to be innocent.
Serious questions to society
Pilate asked “what is truth?” Because he didn’t have a proper answer, he condemned Jesus to death. If we abandon a sense of objective truth, then politics becomes mere power: the tyrant or group in power decide what the truth is themselves. Truth becomes what the one in power wants it to be.
Benedict is asking some really serious questions to our society, at a time when we seem to be losing a sense of objective truth. He is speaking to politicians and to those in power.
The question of truth
“What happens when truth counts for nothing? What kind of justice is then possible?” he asks. Without a sense of objective truth, the Pope says, everything depends on the “arbitrariness of changing opinions and powerful lobbies”.
Miscarriages of justice become the norm. The Pope warns us that “the question of truth” cannot be dismissed from politics and social life.
Hence, this book is calling us to re-discover a sense of objective truth.
Fr Joseph Evans is Roman Catholic chaplain to King’s College London and the Institute of Education, and chaplain to Netherhall House.
You can pre-order the book here.