“The truth may not make us comfortable, but it does make us free”: Archbishop Charles Chaput

By Dave Andrusko

Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., the Archbishop of Philadelphia

Anyone who reads NRL News Today knows what an admirer I am of Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., the Archbishop of Philadelphia. What is his greatest strength? The clarity of his insights? The exquisite skill with which he communicates to a lay audience? His fusion of passionate denunciation of evil with a pastor’s heart for the fragility of the human heart?

It would be hard to choose. In fact, it is all this and much more. Truly, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

I had the occasion last night to re-read an essay Archbishop Chaput wrote for First Things: “The Splendor of Truth in 2017

The title is an allusion to “Veritatis Splendor, John Paul’s great encyclical on the ‘splendor of truth,’” Chaput wrote. At the time of the essay—2017—it was one year prior to the 25th anniversary of its release.

Archbishop Chaput’s essay is too rich, too deep, and too nuanced to try to tackle here. In the strongest terms, I would encourage you to read and ponder Archbishop Chaput’s thoughts.

Let me instead quote one telling paragraph and offer just a couple of brief thoughts.

“We don’t create truth; we find it, and we have no power to change it to our tastes. The truth may not make us comfortable, but it does make us free.”

As we wage battle against what Pope John Paul, in his encyclical “The Gospel of Life,” called the “culture of death,” those two sentences should be emblazoned on our forebrains. Those who count it a day lost when they have not increased the number of dead babies manufacture their own truths at the expense of timeless truths accessible to all–the truths of biology, fetal development, and the inextricable bond between mothers and their unborn children.

But those truths do not suit the death peddler’s tastes and are an impediment to their fervent desire to increase the killing, day in and day out. Put another way, if fully acknowledged and widely promoted, these foundational truths would be a nearly impregnable barrier to the Death Doctors.

When I read the second sentence—“The truth may not make us comfortable, but it does make us free”—it reminded me of a famous statement then-Associate Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in a 2012 decision:

“The remedy for speech that is false is speech that is true. This is the ordinary course in a free society. The response to the unreasoned is the rational; to the uninformed, the enlightened; to the straight-out lie, the simple truth.”

Even in our twitter universe, even at a time when doubling the number of characters from 140 for tweets to 280 constitutes a near-revolutionary expansion of concentrated thought, pro-lifers believe in linear expression.

This doesn’t mean we don’t create attention-grabbing memes. We do, and some at National Right to Life are geniuses at it.

But they are created in service of helping people to think…to think about things that matter…to think about things that are true, noble, pure, lovely, admirable, and excellent…to think about the beauty of unborn children and the faithfulness owed to them by their parents.