The Eighth Commandment requires us to condemn and refrain from all attacks against the Truth. Untold evils are caused by its abuse in lying propaganda, defamation of character, libel, calumnies and so forth.
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"Quod Est Veritas?" Christ and Pilate
by Nikolay Gay, 1890, Oil on canvas
The Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, Russia
The Eighth Commandment calls to mind the words of our Lord, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No man cometh to the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). Our Lord is the Truth — the pearl of great price (c.f. Matthew 13:45,46). The Eighth Commandment safeguards the Truth. Remember the words of Pontius Pilate, “Quod veritas est [What is Truth]?” Sufficient for contemplation is the following excerpt from Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen’s “The Life of Christ”:
Furthermore, He Who came from heaven, came to bear witness, which meant to die for the truth. He laid down the moral condition of discovering truth and affirmed that it was not only an intellectual quest; what one discovered depended in part on one’s moral behavior. It was in this sense, Our Lord said one, that His sheep heard His voice. Pilate evidently caught the idea that moral conduct had something to do with the discovery of truth, so he resorted to pragmatism and utilitarianism, and sneered the question:
What is truth? John 18:38
Then he turned his back on truth — better not on it, but on Him Who is Truth. It remained to be seen that tolerance of truth and error in a stroke of broadmindedness leads to intolerance and persecution; “What is truth?” when sneered, is followed up with the second sneer, “What is justice?” Boardmindedness, when it means indifference to right and wrong, eventually ends in a hatred of what is right. He who was so tolerant of error as to deny an Absolute Truth was the one who would crucify Truth. It was the religious judge who challenged Him, “I adjure thee”; but the secular judge asked, “What to repudiate the things that are God’s; he was in the Roman toga just professed a skepticism and doubt
If therefore, the impulse toward truth was in Pilate, he would know that Truth Itself stood before him; if it was not in him, he would sentence Christ to death.
Source: Chapter 45 “Trial before Pilate”, © 1958, 1977 by Fulton J. Sheen
The Eighth Commandment forbids all attacks on truth. Therefore, false testimony, rash judgment, lies, calumny/slander, detraction/libel, talebearing, backbiting, and betraying secrets are some of the offenses against the Eighth Commandment. Remember the words of St. James the Apostle: “If anyone thinks he is religious... Please purchase this lesson to continue learning.
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