Caritas in Veritate (“Love in Truth”) was Pope Benedict’s final encyclical (setting aside his contribution to Lumen Fidei). In my opinion it is the greatest of his encyclicals, and my intention is to write a few brief posts drawing from CV. This is the first in the series. The document is the latest addition to the Church’s social teaching, and it is welcome (at least by me!). Benedict associates love and truth in the title, and rightfully so: they are inseparable.
A Christianity of charity without truth would be more or less interchangeable with a pool of good sentiments, helpful for social cohesion, but of little relevance. (§4)
Love that is not informed by truth—that is, love that is divorced from reality—is barely worthy of the name. Genuine charity, in which we love our neighbor as ourselves out of love for God, can never ignore truth. It can never ignore reality. Can we honestly say we love our neighbors if we ignore or deny their needs? How is that any different from what St. James condemns?
Here is a brother, here is a sister, going naked, left without the means to secure their daily food; if one of you says to them, Go in peace, warm yourselves and take your fill, without providing for their bodily needs, of what use is it? Thus faith, if it has no deeds to shew for itself, has lost its own principle of life. (2:15–17)
Love and truth go together, as Benedict reminds us. If we separate them, then love becomes irrelevant.
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