Pope Benedict has spoken often about the dangers of relativism. Relativism is the belief that there is no such thing as settled truth, settled doctrine, or objective morality. Everyone is right. But if all beliefs are equally true, doesn’t it also follow that all are equally not valid? At the very least nothing has any meaning or any worth.
Relativism is simply not compatible with the Catholic faith.
As then Cardinal Ratzinger, just before entering the conclave which would elect him Pope, said:
“Today, having a clear faith based on the Creed of the Church is often labeled as fundamentalism. Whereas relativism, that is, letting oneself be “tossed here and there, carried about by every wind of doctrine”, seems the only attitude that can cope with modern times. We are building a dictatorship of relativism that does not recognize anything as definitive and whose ultimate goal consists solely of one’s own ego and desires.”
The Church professes what is always and everywhere true, because Jesus is the Truth. Jesus is also the Word. The Word—Logos—is reason. If truth claims are not objective and consistent, then they are not compatible with reason.
So I was not surprised by a recent discussion that my husband and I had with friends who are Catholics. They are lovely, generous, and intelligent. But they are not orthodox Catholics. We explained what we believe and why we believe it.
At first we were not surprised by their responses. We have heard it a million times before. They knew us when we were not exactly good Catholics. I am sure we have surprised them!
The shocker came when our friends had a rather low opinion on reading or studying the faith or any subject for that manner. Everything comes down to how we choose to interpret, based on our feelings and experience, what we read. They were a bit dismissive of our large collection of books.
This is not new of course. The comedian Stephan Colbert even coined a word for it Truthiness. View the video here
I have a class tonight, so I will finish this tomorrow.
Susan, I love your blog and your discussion of relativism.
Thirty-one year plus two days ago today, Pope John Paul II gave a homily on “truthiness” that changed the world. He stood in Victory Square in Warsaw before one million Poles. He said: “To Poland the Church brought Christ, the key to understanding that great and fundamental reality that is man. For man cannot be fully understood without Christ. Or rather, man is incapable of understanding himself fully without Christ. He cannot understand who he is, nor what his true dignity is, nor what his vocation is, nor what his final end is. He cannot understand any of this without Christ.” In other words, Christ is our reality. He is “truthiness!” Read more about John Paul’s epic homily here: http://www.QuinersDiner.com.
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Tom, thank you!
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