Fratelli Tutti 273: Of Transcendent Truth

The Holy Father quotes Pope John Paul II from his 1991 anniversary encyclical following up on Rerum Novarum (1891). It’s a long quote, but a good one:

273. In this regard, I wish to cite the following memorable statement: “If there is no transcendent truth, in obedience to which man achieves his full identity, then there is no sure principle for guaranteeing just relations between people. Their self-interest as a class, group or nation would inevitably set them in opposition to one another. If one does not acknowledge transcendent truth, then the force of power takes over, and each person tends to make full use of the means at his disposal in order to impose his own interests or his own opinion, with no regard for the rights of others… The root of modern totalitarianism is to be found in the denial of the transcendent dignity of the human person who, as the visible image of the invisible God, is therefore by his very nature the subject of rights that no one may violate – no individual, group, class, nation or state. Not even the majority of the social body may violate these rights, by going against the minority”. [Centesimus Annus 44]

I think there are two truths in play. Certainly no Christian leader would discount the value of the transcendent truth of a loving God. That is the basis for a universal human dignity. Once dignity of all people is recognized, it puts the brakes on the “inevitable” opposition of human groups against others. We see this in play in the US these days. “My” group’s agenda with election fraud entitles “me” to extreme measures to protest, rampage, etc.. Fake fraud is not the only issue. Bottom line is that a lapse in the recognition of human dignity brings to the fore the notion that the ends justify the means. Sometimes that approach is a sincere struggle. But if one’s ends are misaligned–to war, abortion, a militarized police force, and other things we’ve seen as of late.

All citations of Fratelli Tutti (which can be found on this link) are © Copyright – Libreria Editrice Vaticana


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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