"Tolerance is related to patience, justice, equality, and charity. The definition we shall give in in Latin. The Latin words are similar to English words; so you can readily translate: Toleratio est permissio negativa mali.
Literally, it means that tolerance is a negative permission of evil, a patient forbearance in the face of evil, either real evil or imaginary. Notice that tolerance is negative. Tolerance is never positive. If it were, it would be connivance with evil. No man should be tolerant during a holdup. At least he could call the police.
There are certain principles concerning tolerance that need to be understood:
1. Tolerance never refers to persons.
Let us take this second one first: tolerance never refers to good. The good is never to be tolerated; rather it is to be approved; aye! it is to be loved. You never say, 'I'll tolerate a beefsteak dinner.' Do you tolerate patriotism? Do you tolerate science? Some, having trouble in school, might refer to it that way, but science is to be revered if it is in harmony with God's omniscient plan for salvation.
2. Tolerance always refers to evil, real or imaginary, never to good.
Can you imagine a love song in which one changes the word 'love' to 'tolerate'? 'I tolerate you in June, under the moon.' How absurd it is! Tolerance never refers to the good. No woman tolerates a mink coat.
It refers to evil, a physical evil, a moral evil, an intellectual evil; but it is evil, real or imaginary. Sometimes the opinions of others that we regard as evil actually are not evil at all but are very good. Sometimes your opinions may seem good to you, but objectively they may be evil. So evil may be either real or imaginary, but tolerance always refers to evil and never to good.
We also have to tolerate the opinions of others. We may not agree with them; we may think they are very wrong; we may even think their opinion is evil. But, granted that it is, great patience and forbearance should be practiced because they are entitled to assert their own particular point of view.
Tolerance never refers to persons.
If there is anything that makes me feel sad at heart, it is to see a cartoon or a drawing or a picture, for example, of a Chinese child, a Japanese child, an American child, and underneath it the caption reades, 'Be tolerant.' A person is the most precious thing in the universe. A person is made in the image and likeness of God: every person bears within himself the Divine resemblance. The state exists for the person, and not the person for the state. No Irishman is to be tolerated! No Jew is to be tolerated! No American is to be tolerated! No German is to be tolerated! No Arab is to be tolerated! As persons, they are all to be loved. We have misunderstood tolerance when we say that one must be tolerant to certain persons.
We may be tolerant of their acts, we may be tolerant of their deeds, we may be tolerant of their thoughts, but, as persons, they are endowed with sovereign, inalienable worth. The whole universe exists for them. The Savior died for them; if we are merely tolerant to them, we offend both their dignity and our own.