Mirror of Justice

A blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory.
Affiliated with the Program on Church, State & Society at Notre Dame Law School.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

"Pursuing the Truth in Love"

Over at America, Matt Malone has this essay, "Pursuing the Truth in Love," about "the mission of [the magazine] in a 21st century church."  (HT:  Jana Bennett at Catholic Moral Theology).  In the piece, he proposes (among other things) that "[w]hile we may have solved the problem of the relationship between the church and the state, the problem of the relationship between the church and the political remains. Solving that problem, or at least presenting credible solutions to it, is the pre-eminent task of the Catholic media in the United States."

I think all of us who participate, as Catholics, in "public discourse" should read Malone's piece.  I don't expect that everyone will agree with all he writes (!), but there's a whole lot in it for all of us, and each of us, to think about.  He concludes with this:

“Love manifests itself more in deeds than in words.” America makes the following commitments:

1. Church. The church in the United States must overcome the problem of factionalism. This begins by re-examining our language. America will no longer use the terms “liberal,” “conservative” or “moderate” when referring to our fellow Catholics in an ecclesiastical context.

2. Charity. How we say things is as important as what we say. America seeks to provide a model for a public discourse that is intelligent and charitable. In the next few months, America will announce a new set of policies for the public commentary on our various platforms.

3. Community. America will appoint a community editor who will moderate our public conversation, ensuring that it rises to the standards we set for thoughtfulness and charity. We will continue to provide a forum for a diverse range of faithful, Catholic voices.


Garnett, Rick | Permalink


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"America seeks to provide a model for a public discourse that is intelligent and charitable." They are following MOJ's vision!

Posted by: Michael S. | Jun 4, 2013 10:15:49 AM

Father Malone cites 1 Cor. 13:1 in support of the proposition that "no statement, however factually accurate, can ultimately be called truthful if it is not spoken in charity."

However, St. Paul at 1 Cor. 1:10-13 reminds us that controversy, division, and faction have sadly been characteristic of Christians since the earliest days of the church:

"I urge you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree in what you say, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and in the same purpose. For it has been reported to me about you, my brothers, by Chloe’s people, that there are rivalries among you. I mean that each of you is saying, 'I belong to Paul,' or 'I belong to Apollos,' or 'I belong to Cephas,' or 'I belong to Christ.' Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?"

Galatians 2:11-15 indicates that speaking in charity may not have always been observed among early church leaders:

"And when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face because he clearly was wrong. For, until some people came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he began to draw back and separated himself, because he was afraid of the circumcised. And the rest of the Jews [also] acted hypocritically along with him, with the result that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy. But when I saw that they were not on the right road in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in front of all, 'If you, though a Jew, are living like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?'”

Accusing St. Peter and St. Barnabas of hypocrisy may seem harsh, but St. Paul thought they were "clearly wrong." Perhaps some truths require harsh words. Yet when each side of a controversy believes the other is "clearly wrong," asserting simply "We are Christians" is not really to "say everything."

Posted by: dfb | Jun 4, 2013 6:22:20 PM