Truth has a bad rap these days. A claim to know truth sounds dogmatic, oppressive, perhaps even racist. Truth-claims shut down dialogue: If you already know the truth, there’s nothing for us to talk about.
In his 2009 encyclical Caritas in Veritate, Benedict XVI took on this hostility to truth head-on. Early on (section 4), he argues that, far from shutting down dialogue, truth is the only basis on which dialogue is possible:
“Truth, in fact, is logos which creates dia-logos, and hence communication and communion. Truth, by enabling men and women to let go of their subjective opinions and impressions, allows them to move beyond cultural and historical limitations and to come together in the assessment of the value and substance of things.”Confidence that there is such a thing as truth, even if we don’t yet known it fully, breaks us out of the narrow confines of our own opinions, experiences, limited stores of knowledge. If truth is, then you might have it, and then you might be worth talking to. If truth isn’t, then I can be perfectly content with whatever half-baked sentiments are rattling in my heart and head.
Truth makes communication possible, and hence makes communion possible. In short, as Benedict puts it, “Truth opens and unites our minds in the logos of love.”