Adult Faith Formation Column for the Sunday Bulletin of St. Michael Parish, Livermore, California

This weekly column is a short meditation on the Bible readings of the Sunday Mass. The meditations are direct quotations from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, papal encyclicals, writings of the Saints, and similar orthodox sources.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

29 April 2012

Religious Freedom for the Children of God

    The sacred [Vatican] Council begins by professing that God himself has made known to the human race how men by serving him can be saved and reach happiness in Christ.  We believe that this one true religion continues to exist in the Catholic and Apostolic Church, to which the Lord Jesus entrusted the task of spreading it among all men when he said to the apostles:  "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you" (Mt. 18:19-20).  All men are bound to seek the truth, especially in what concerns God and his Church, and to embrace it and hold on to it as they come to know it.

    The sacred Council likewise proclaims that these obligations bind man's conscience.  Truth can impose itself on the mind of man only in virtue of its own truth, which wins over the mind with both gentleness and power.  So while the religious freedom which men demand in fulfilling their obligation to worship God has to do with freedom for coercion in civil society, it leaves intact the traditional Catholic teaching on the moral duty of individuals and societies towards the true religion and the one Church of Christ....

    The Vatican Council declares that the human person has a right to religious freedom.  Freedom of this kind means that all men should be immune from coercion on the part of individuals, social groups and every human power so that, within due limits, nobody is forced to act against is convictions in religious matters in private or in public, alone or in associations with others.  The Council further declares that the right to religious freedom is based on the very dignity of the human person as known through the revealed word of God and by reason itself.  This right of the human person to religious freedom must be given recognition in the constitutional order of society as will make it a civil right.

                        -- Dignitatis Humanae, Vatican II, 1-2
                        (On the Right of the Person and Communities
                        to Social and  Civil Liberty in Religious Matters)
                        7 December 1965

        Beloved:  See what love the Father has bestowed on us
        that we may be called the children of God.    (1 John 3:1)

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