Last month, in my hometown of Florence, I was having lunch in a local trattoria when I was approached by an Italian who told me, “I’m content that the Catholic Church allows me and my new wife to pursue our own individual truths.” As he disclosed, he was a Catholic who had civilly tied the knot with a Buddhist woman. Truth for him (and his wife) was, he stated: “Being in harmony with oneself.” I told him that the Church teaches differently. Before I could continue, He asked me, “What is truth?” I responded: “Have you ever read what St. Thomas Aquinas says about the truth? For that is what truth is.”
Truth, according to St. Thomas Aquinas, is the apprehension or the conformity of the intellect (our mind) to the object as it is, which the intellect does not seek to deny or distort through self interest or other motives. Because God, as Aquinas puts it, is the first principle of all creation, He “may be compared to things created as the architect is to things designed.” Therefore, truth is to “the greatest degree found in God” since “He is truth itself, and the sovereign and first truth.”
In the Gospel according to John, the evangelist tells us the Jewish ruling body accused Jesus of Nazareth for “claiming to be the king of the Jews.” In reality, it was for the crime of blasphemy, i.e., claiming to be God’s Son, a position the Sanhedrin could not accept. He was therefore brought before the governor of Judea, Pontius Pilate. to be tried and crucified since capital punishment could only be carried out by the Romans. During His trial, Jesus said: “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.” Pilate said: “You are a king, then!” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” Pilate said to Him, “What is truth?”
Whether Pilate was expressing an opinion that Christ was not to be taken seriously, or whether his question was a rhetorical one, truth in the end did not matter to him just as he knew it did not matter to Jesus’ accusers. Yet Pilate knew the truth for, as John goes on to say, he went outside the Praetorium again unto the Jews, and said unto them, “I find in him no fault at all.” Nonetheless, in order to appease his audience and simultaneously hold onto his public office, the Roman governor disavowed the truth by washing his hands of innocent blood and had Christ crucified.
Pilate’s indifference or denial of the truth is mirrored by many present-day politicians’ individualist policies that have produced laws, such as abortion, same-sex unions, the right to change one’s sex, etc. Western governments, instead of doing what James Wilson—one of the Founding Fathers and US Supreme Court Justice—once said it was supposed to do: “to secure and to enlarge the exercise of the natural rights of its members,” have created a moral vacuum, thereby opening up to an equally, if not more dangerous threat to our way of life, the Islamization our society.
This dual threat has only increased because of the same indifference or political correctness of numerous hierarchical members of the Catholic Church. As manifested by its inter-religious dialogue with the Islamic world, many of today’s Christian leaders, like Pilate, have washed their hands of the truth. Instead of implementing the Lord’s last orders to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” their acts have inappropriately sanctioned Islam as authoritative to Christianity. In fact, Catholic bishops have not only absolved Muslims of the crimes committed in the name of Islam but, in the face of the Islam-inspired genocide of Christians, they have joined up with the problematic campaign against Islamophobia, presenting the latter as a more imminent problem.
Many Americans and Western Europeans remain under the presumption that the Islamic takeover in places such as the Middle East and parts of Africa assume that the same cannot happen in our home front. I am a Roman Catholic priest and an American who lives in Western Europe, where I have been better able to appreciate both the structure in American society provided by our Founding Fathers and the Greco-Roman/Judaic-Christian roots that shaped Europe. Both are completely disavowed and in serious threat of being annihilated because of the West’s moral vacuum, which has led to a de-Christianization of society and the rise of Islamism, which has succeeded as a result of a refusal to acknowledge certain nihilistic teachings of Islam. As a result, we have been enslaved by having our exercise of freedom of speech and religion and the right to peacefully assemble and to petition the government for a redress of grievances curtailed. This has been illustrated in orchestrating conditions through public communications utilizing defensive terminology and accusing anyone who questions Islamists’ intentions of being a racist or an Islamophobe. In other words, truth has become relative. Or as Benedict XVI said: “We are building a dictatorship of relativism that does not recognize anything as definitive and whose ultimate goal consists solely of one’s own ego and desires.”