Jesus saith to him: I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No man cometh to the Father, but by me.
Our bruin friend at Saint Corbinian’s Bear is in an ironic mood:
We will probably never know what Pilate meant when he asked Christ, “What is truth?” Sarcasm? The world-weary cynicism of a Roman official with one of the most difficult jobs of Rome? Or perhaps the echo of a genuine question from a decent young man long ago ground down by his responsibilities to a brutal empire?
“Truth” is nothing more or less than what the Church, through its many channels, but in our day, primarily the Pope, says it is. We now understand that truth is a construct that is contingent upon the matrix in which we live. This matrix is comprised of our evolving language; our behavior; and the changing moral consensus of our culture as expressed in many different ways, ranging from our laws to popular entertainment. The truth is to be found in the current teachings of the Church.
The Church reflects the culture, and perhaps has done so for most of its existence, although we can only speak certainly of our own time.
It is irrelevant whether Church teachings are formal or not. Indeed, the less formal teachings of the Pope with a microphone in his hand loom larger in both the culture and the minds of individual Catholics. It is the informal teachings which are seized by the news gatekeepers, massaged, and then proclaimed in partnership with the Church – not merely reported, it is important to note.
“What is truth?” is not some great mystery. One of the main purposes of the Church is to be the authority that tells us what the truth is for our generation. The power of the keys means that the truth is whatever the Church – ultimately Peter – says it is. The Church is trusted with not just proclaiming the truth, but creating it.
It must be so.
The Bible is understood by all but the most conservative Protestant scholars as a collection of tales edited long after the events it relates by men who wished to promote different and sometimes conflicting agendas. It is certainly not historically reliable, according to the very best scholarship. Read the notes to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishop’s Bible, the New American Bible, Revised Edition if you have any doubts. They will quickly disabuse you of any lingering Protestant tendency toward bibliolatry.
Only a fundamentalist would today hold up the Bible as containing “the truth.”
Only the most naive traditionalist would look to the teachings of the brutal, superstitious and exclusivist past of the Church to find the truth for today’s world.
Neither Holy Scripture nor poking around in the Museum of Church History can be the source of truth today. No, the truth is what the Church says it is, most immediately and importantly through the Pope when he utters his oracles to the interpretive priestly class of reporters.
Let go of the irrelevant past and embrace the truth as it has evolved right up to this second and is proclaimed by the Pope: Peter, upon whom the Church was built and to whom the Keys of Binding and Loosing were given in perpetuity. Yesterday’s Catholics owed the same duty to yesterday’s Church. Why would some of you, today, presume to be less faithful and arrogate to yourselves the authority to decide “what is truth?”
Do you imagine for an instant that the Pope himself could (if he would even think of such a crime, which he could not, protected from error as he is) weave a carpet of lies to spread beneath the Bride of Christ without an army of brave and faithful bishops rising up to challenge him? The teachings of the Pope are confirmed by the agreement of the clergy, the acceptance of the people, and his personal popularity with the entire world. You may trust him without question and to question him is to place oneself outside the Church.
What is truth? The answer is simple: