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Chapter 32. Eighth Commandment: Tell the Truth • 431


Truth or truthfulness is the virtue which consists in

showing oneself true in deeds and truthful in words, and

guarding against duplicity, dissimulation, and hypocrisy.

. . . Respect for the reputation and honor of persons for-

bids all detraction and calumny in word or attitude.

—CCC, nos. 2505 and 2507

You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

—Ex 20:16

The Bible teaches that God is the source of truth. Jesus not only taught

the truth; he also said, “I am the truth” (cf. Jn 14:6). The Hebrew word

for truth,


, refers both to truth in words and truthfulness in deeds.

Jesus both personalized truth and spoke nothing but the truth.

When Christ stood before Pilate, Pilate asked Jesus if he were a king.

In his reply, Jesus declared that his Kingdom was not political but spiri-

tual; he had come to bear witness to truth. A spiritual kingdom is based

on truth. Pilate could not understand Christ’s reply. Jesus reached out

to him and offered him the possibility of change. Pilate could only say,

“What is truth?” (Jn 18:38).

In our culture, relativism challenges our ability to tell the truth

because it claims there is no objective truth. This attitude undermines the

distinction between truth and lies; it leads to an environment of deceit.

In such an atmosphere, even Christ’s teachings, based on divine truth,

fail to persuade those whose trust in the possibility of objective truth has

disappeared. This is the climate in which the Church needs to call people

back to the reality of objective truth and to the link between doctrinal

truth and everyday life.


“Lying is the most direct offense against the truth. . . . By injuring man’s

relation to truth and to his neighbor, a lie offends against the funda-