On many occasions in the Gospels, Jesus speaks about truth. In John’s Gospel, he tells Thomas, “I am the way and the truth and the life” (Jn 14:6). Again in John’s Gospel (8:31-32), he tells his followers, “If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
Truth is at the heart of imitating Christ. Yet, it seems today, truth is sometimes beyond our reach. It’s as though we take the approach of Pontius Pilate, who asks Jesus, “What is truth?”
We needn’t look far for examples. It took a grand jury in Pennsylvania to reveal the truth about the mishandling by bishops of hundreds of clergy sexual abuse cases in that state. In recent weeks, Pope Francis has been accused of untruthfulness by an archbishop whose own integrity with the truth has been called into question. Even in the hotly debated nomination of Brett Kavanaugh for Supreme Court justice, the truth about his past involvement with sexual misconduct has led to a delay in the Senate’s confirmation vote.
What all of these examples, as well as others, have in common is a penchant for power. It has been said that power corrupts and truth is often the sacrificial lamb in the quest for power.
Recall that during his 40 days in the desert, the devil tempted Jesus with power over earthly kingdoms, to which Jesus responded, “Get away, Satan!”
Pope Francis is keenly aware of the evil nature of lies. That is why he has proposed a special month of prayer in October. The initiative, promoted on social media with the hashtag #PrayForTheChurch, is led by the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network, formerly known as the Apostleship of Prayer.
“As we have seen, evil manifests itself in diverse ways and the mission of evangelization of the church is made more difficult, even discredited,” states the prayer network.
During October, Pope Francis asks all the faithful to focus on personal and community prayer to “help the church in these times of crisis.” Specifically, the pope asks us to pray the rosary each day and to recite the Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel.
In our diocese, we have witnessed acts of transparency aimed at shining the light on truth. Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus Robert Morneau’s recent decision to withdraw from public ministry and Bishop David Ricken’s announcement last week to open clergy files to independent investigators are actions that promote truth.
In addition to the pope’s special prayer campaign for the church, another prayer offers hope in this time of doubt. This prayer, appropriately, is based on the 2009 encyclical by Pope Benedict XVI, Caritas in Veritate (Charity in Truth):
Father, your truth is made known in your Word. Guide us to seek the truth of the human person. Teach us the way to love because you are Love.
Jesus, you embody Love and Truth. Help us to recognize your face in the poor. Enable us to live out our vocation to bring love and justice to your people.
Holy Spirit, you inspire us to transform our world. Empower us to seek the common good for all persons. Give us a spirit of solidarity and make us one human family.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen