Telling the truth is one of our most serious moral obligations. One of the great things about working for This Rock is that we get to talk about the truth to people who believe in it, about the Truth to people who believe in him. The world around us is largely indifferent (or hostile) to truth, unaware that being indifferent to it is also to be indifferent to him.
This indifference is not just outside the Church but has infiltrated it, causing scandal and chaos. We often see the truth distorted—by the media, by “prominent Catholics,” even by churchmen. These distortions—these lies—are a grave injustice. The proper response to injustice is anger. That means there are a lot of angry Catholics out there.
Anger can be a powerful weapon for good. Anger prompts us to defend the truth, to rectify injustice, to stand up for the weak. And anger in a righteous cause feels pretty good—good enough to hold on to for a little while longer, maybe long enough for a few suns to go down. It also feels good to share that anger with other defenders of truth and justice, “we happy few” against the world.
That’s a great temptation for writers and editors. We know that if we get people riled up—either at us or at some cause or at some person—that we will get feedback. We will get letters, phone calls, and attention in the blogosphere. We love that. It proves that someone out there is listening, that what we do matters.
It’s tempting to make waves. But at what cost? We do not serve the truth when we go from battling error to demonizing those in error, from reporting sad facts to repeating gossip with glee. As St. Paul says, “If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other” (Gal 5:15, NIV). Our enemies are not of flesh and blood, and the “take no prisoners” approach is just as wrong now as it was for Henry at Agincourt. We have to play fair, as Russell Shaw argues on page 26.
That’s the caution for those of us who tend toward anger. But there’s another caution for those of us who tend toward indifference, often in the name of “charity”: Charity is for people. It’s silly to say that attacking bad ideas is uncharitable. Ideas don’t need our charity. That holds true for artifacts, too: Bad music, bad liturgy, and bad art are not proper objects of charity. So you will continue to see criticisms of bad ideas and ugly stuff in these pages, with no apologies. But if we lapse in charity toward people, please call us on it. In so doing you remind us that we are servants of Truth.