Vatican II: Religious Freedom

Hello! Welcome to the fourth section of a debriefing on the Second Council of Vatican.

There are documents available on the Vatican website for all of this. That’s where I found the first-hand resources.

I thought I would read and write about Dignitatis humanae because of all the chaos surrounding the HHS mandate for insurance covering abortion and “birth control.”

There are pieces in this document, the Declaration on religious freedom, that are so relevant to today, it’s scary.

First, the council professes its belief that God Himself has made known to mankind the way in which men are to serve Him, and thus be saved in Christ and come to blessedness. We believe that this one true religion subsists in the Catholic and Apostolic Church, to which the Lord Jesus committed the duty of spread it abroad among all men.”

The way it starts, you’re kind of thinking… OK, so we’re all for religious freedom for fellow Catholics? That’s not even close to the case. Read more.

This Vatican Council declares that the human person has a right to religious freedom … that no one is to be forced to act in a manner contrary to his own beliefs, whether privately or publicly.”

Yeah, that’s what I was waiting for, too.

The right to religious freedom has its foundation in the very dignity of the human person as this dignity is known through the revealed word of God and by reason itself.”

I wanted to keep this quote around… this dignity is known by reason itself. It’s one of those things that we just know, deep in our hearts, that it’s true.

In all his activity a man is bound to flow his conscience in order that he may come to God, the end and purpose of life. It follows that he is not to be forced to act in a manner contrary to his conscience. Nor, on the other hand, is he to be restrained from acting in accordance with his conscience, especially in matters religious.”

The social nature of man, however, itself requires that he should give external expression to his internal acts of religion.”

So, even if the majority of a place, a country, is against a religion, it is our duty to practice our religion in the public sphere.

Don’t be afraid. Don’t hide it. Share it, show it.

This document also states the Church believes religious groups have the right to establish educational, cultural, charitable and social organizations regarding religion.

The bishops went so far as to say, “Government is also to help create conditions favorable to the fostering of religious life.”

Wow, right? It doesn’t seem the the U.S. government is super stressed about fostering religious life. At all.

The declaration of this Vatican Council on the right of man to religious freedom has its foundation in the dignity of the person.”

Which is what the Church bases on its teaching on… the dignity of the person. That’s why women and men are still different, why parents have certain things they need to do, why contraception is wrong. It all relates to the dignity of the person.

Pope Paul VI wrote that no one can be forced into the Christian faith. It must be an act of free will for it to be true… which is also why we have to have a conversion of our hearts when we choose Catholicism again when we’re adults. It can’t just be something we continue to do.

My favorite part is toward the end:

The Church claims freedom for herself in her character as a spiritual authority, established by Christ the Lord, upon which there rests, by divine mandate, the duty of going out into the whole world and preaching the Gospel to every creature.”

I think I take religious freedom for granted, I know I did before the HHS Mandate about contraceptives.

The best way to describe it is to use the example of making Orthodox Jews, or those who keep the dietary laws, to buy pork. You wouldn’t dream of making them do that because they’re following their religious teaching. Yet Catholics are being forced to buy contraceptive coverage. I hope that makes sense.

For Freedom!

God bless.

Find out more about Vatican II here:

Nostra Aetate

Priests

Dei Verbum

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