Archbishop Sheen: “What is tolerance?”
“In the face of…false broadmindedness, what the world needs is intolerance. The world seems to have lost entirely the faculty of distinguishing between good and bad, the right and the wrong. There are some minds that believe that intolerance is always wrong, because they make “intolerance” mean hate, narrow-mindedness, and bigotry. These same minds believe that tolerance is always right because, for them, it means charity, broadmindedness, and American good nature.
What is tolerance? Tolerance is an attitude of reasoned patience toward evil and a forbearance that restrains us from showing anger or inflicting punishment. But what is more important than the definition is the field of its application. The important point here is this: Tolerance applies only to persons, but never to truth. Intolerance applies only to truth, but never to persons. Tolerance applies to the erring; intolerance to the error.
America is suffering not so much from intolerance, which is bigotry, as it is from tolerance, which is indifference to truth and error, and a philosophical nonchalance that has been interpreted as broad-mindedness. Greater tolerance, of course, is desirable, for there can never be too much charity shown to persons who differ with us. Our Blessed Lord Himself asked that we “love those who calumniate us, for they are always persons,” but He never told us to love the calumny.”
-Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen