Monday 16 September 2019

Finding the truth can be a lifetime process

By Fr Michael Commane - The Way I See It

Editor-in-Chief at Independent News and Media Stephen Rae was interviewed by Ryan Tubridy last Wednesday. Stephen was talking about his visit to Syria. At the end of the interview there was a conversation about living in 'post-truth' times. It's interesting how we try to ameliorate the meaning of words. We no longer die, instead we 'pass away', and now we have stopped telling lies but we are involved in 'post-truths'.

Last week I heard someone say we don't talk about 'false hope'. It's now called 'misdirected hope'. Stephen Rae mentioned how Facebook during the US election campaign carried a story referring to Trump calling the Republican Party a group of stupid people. It was also on Facebook that Pope Francis was supporting Trump. Both stories were false. In the era of social media anyone can say almost anything. And tell lies too.

What is truth? Veritas, Latin for truth, is the motto of the Dominican Order and honestly I often think the Order throws the word around far too easily. It's as if we had special claims on the word. People have always pondered over what is the truth.

I read three articles in last week's issue of the English weekly the 'Catholic Herald'. One was an editorial on Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church, another an article on the current diplomatic talks between the Vatican and China, and the final piece was on Pope Benedict's resignation/retirement. I was shocked with the attitude of all three pieces. The editorial seems to make Patriarch Kirill some sort nasty political piece of work. According to Cardinal Joseph Zen, the retired bishop of Hong Kong, any accord between the Vatican and China would "betray Christ". And Benedict, according to the writer, may not have done what the Holy Spirit would have liked.

Reading all three pieces I kept thinking that there has to be another side to these stories. I did not like the tone of any of them. But is that because they were expressing right-wing opinions to which I don't subscribe? It's a general belief held in the west that Vladimir Putin is not a 'good man'. And yet in October while in Berlin I met a Dominican priest from Belarus, who genuinely believes that Putin is exactly what the Russian Federation needs right now. In the last two weeks I was talking with a Russian from Astrakhan and she is so delighted that Crimea is again back in the embrace of Mother Russia. Truth?

Within the churches one sees and reads the craziest of things: people with genuine intentions believing that they know exactly what God is thinking. And because it has to do with 'God' they feel even more certain about what they are saying. I have no problem at all saying it can be most confusing. Yes, social media does throw up terrible 'porkies'. Lies are part of everyday life and always have been. It requires the discernment of the 'wisdom of Solomon' to extrapolate the truth.

Next Sunday is Christmas Day. I wish readers a great holiday. We all might stand back for a second or two and allow ourselves to wonder about the day that's in it - the Christian belief that God becomes human. What would you say to the idea that all truth is to be found in God and it's a lifetime process or journey to get any sort of glimpse at that truth?

Wexford People