The Teaching in the Title: Caritas in Vertitate

The Pope’s New Encyclical is entitled Caritas in Veritate. Simply translated, Cartias in Veritate means “Love (or Charity) in Truth”. But what the title really sets forth is a teaching that Love and Truth need each other for there to be balance.

Consider charity or love without reference to the truth. Too easily it becomes soft and affirms what should not be affirmed. Charity without truth can easily enable bad behavior. By this it can, though with good intentions, further enslave people in self-destructive behaviors. Charity without truth can lead others into error and sin by failing to correct. Charity without truth can rob others of their dignity through a kind of “soft bigotry” of low expectations. This kind of charity is patronizing and presumes that the poor and needy cannot be expected to attain higher goals, so it simply moves the goal posts. Charity without truth can rob others of the discipline they need to discover self-mastery. Without the truth Charity, or love,  is soft and can become downright poisonous.  Charity (or love) needs reference to the truth to be true charity, true love.

But Consider truth without charity. Without Charity, or love, the truth too easily becomes a club to swing at others, merely an argument to be won. Without Charity the truth can seem harsh and demanding, something to be avoided and feared. Without Charity the truth can seem unattainable. Without Charity, people usually lack the self-esteem necessary to even consider they could live the truth. When I was a child I needed my parents reassurance that I was able to do what was right and true. Without that love and encouragement the truth could seem crushing and impossible.

So there it is, a title, but more than a title, a teaching.

Familiar???? By the way Washingtonians, this title should seem familiar to you. The Late Archbishop of this Archdiocese James Cardinal Hickey had this for his motto: Veritatem in Caritate (Truth in Charity).