In Lent we pledge ourselves to acquire virtue. The one, perhaps the only, virtue universally honoured today is tolerance. It is a useful Lenten exercise, therefore, to examine it carefully. The abuse of an attitude often lets us see more clearly its defining characteristics. What happens if you exaggerate tolerance? A moment’s thought reveals that excessive tolerance tends to indifference. I am willing to grant Lapplanders complete freedom in their burial customs because I couldn’t care less what they do. That’s tolerant of me, but hardly virtuous. The opposite of tolerance is commitment, and we see that in its extreme form it becomes, precisely, intolerance. The more I value something the less willing I am to tolerate its opposite. The term “What a male chauvinist pig!” for example, is not the comment of someone who is willing to grant men a privileged place in society.
As Christians we have a commitment to Jesus Christ as “the way, the truth and the life.” This biblical phrase was the keynote of the declaration Dominus Iesus issued in 2000 under the aegis of the then Cardinal Ratzinger:
. . . it is necessary above all to reassert the definitive and complete character of the revelation of Jesus Christ. In fact, it must be firmly believed that, in the mystery of Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Son of God, who is “the way, the truth, and the life,” the full revelation of divine truth is given.