Caritas in veritate 4:
4. Because it is filled with truth, charity can be understood in the abundance of its values, it can be shared and communicated. Truth, in fact, is lógos which creates diá-logos, and hence communication and communion.
So the emphasis is that contemporary society does not understand love and truth. Authentic love is defined by truth and truth is identified specifically, not as correctness or verification of fact, but as Christ/God. So here the pope calls Truth, logos.
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.
Here’s an interesting point made by the pope, truth is not found in “subjective opinions and impressions,” and also that “culture and history” are limiting factors in the achievement of truth. So to get to the essence, “value and substance” of things one must go beyond subjective opinions and impressions, culture and history. The questions is what truth is there outside of subjectiveness, perception, culture and history? As a phenomenologist, I tend to cringe at the thought of this idea–that there is an objective truth independent of subjective perceptions and culture.
One thing that strikes me is that for Benedict, who was quite the Augustinian scholar, he seems to sound more like a Thomas Aquinas type. There’s a very sharp distinction between the natural and the supernatural, and essence and accidents. The essence of a thing is its true nature and the accidents are properties that cannot exist in themselve independent of the essence. Essences can exist and retain their integrity without accidents. So with a blue table, the “blue-ness” is the accident because the table can exist without being blue and the blueness does not substantially add anything.
So the pope is establishing the idea that the accidents of truth are subjective opinions, impressions, history and culture, and that there is an essence of truth, logos. To get then to the essence of truth we have to wade through the accidents of subjective impressions, culture, etc, to get at it.
In the present social and cultural context, where there is a widespread tendency to relativize truth, practising charity in truth helps people to understand that adhering to the values of Christianity is not merely useful but essential for building a good society and for true integral human development.
There’s the word “essential” which is a loaded term in Catholic thought. So, Christianity is not simply a good idea for society but is “essential” for a good society and true human development. So . . . what happens to a non-Christian society? Is such a society capable of authentic human development? This is very much in line with Ratzinger’s/Benedict’s focus. The name Benedict was selected because Benedict the father of monasticism, and Benedictines, were critical in restoring and promoting Christianity in Europe and the current pope has that very much as his focus, i.e., returning Europe back to its “Christian roots.” My point here is that Benedict is very much a Christiainity focused person and has no problem whatsoever proclaiming the superiority of the merits of Christianity.
A Christianity of charity without truth would be more or less interchangeable with a pool of good sentiments, helpful for social cohesion, but of little relevance. In other words, there would no longer be any real place for God in the world. Without truth, charity is confined to a narrow field devoid of relations. It is excluded from the plans and processes of promoting human development of universal range, in dialogue between knowledge and praxis.
So the absence of authentic Christianity means that there is no “real place for God in the world.” Again the issue of non-Christian societies arises. The key thing here is that the pope is presenting as the foundation of social justice, Christianity. There is usually another approach to social justice issues which focuses on a philosophy/reason base without a necessary reference to Christianity. So the argument is usually that there are social justice issues that we can all agree on as long as we are people of good will, regardless of religion or religious disposition.