Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Freedom of Religion


Robert J. McClory writes, "Beginning in 1950 Father John Courtney Murray, a Jesuit theologian, argued... that the state should not be the tool of the church and has no business carrying out the church's will" and that "the civil government's single yet profound obligation is to insure the freedom of all its citizens, especially their religious freedom" — Catholic dissent -- When wrong turns out to be right.

The Jesuit Father went on to "became a major drafter of the council's Declaration on Human Freedom. In its final form, approved in a vote by the world's bishops, 2,308 to 80, in 1965, the declaration said, 'This synod declares that the human person has a right to religious freedom. This freedom means that all men are to be immune from coercion on the part of individuals, social groups, or any human power . . . This synod further declares that 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 reason itself.'"

John Zmirak writes on the "realization that inspired the Church at Vatican II to renounce forever the right of Catholic states to practice religious intolerance" — Should We Tolerate Intolerance? "The sheer hypocrisy of demanding liberty for the subjugated Christians of Communist Europe, while telling Spanish Protestants, 'Error has no rights,' became insupportable," he suggests, "and the Church made a major revision in her social teaching: While the State can defend the natural law and gently promote the true religion, citizens should not be restricted in their private or public practice of their faith -- apart from activities that threaten public order."

"It is not the job of the state to repress religious error, defend the integrity of the gospel, or protect its 'helpless' citizens from injurious ideas," he writes, arguing that "we must take the Church's new formulation as authoritative" and "we should willingly renounce what the Church has renounced, and move on into the future -- one where the freedom and dignity of each human being has a permanent claim against any repressive state, however redemptive its intentions."

[links via Reditus: A Chronicle of Aesthetic Christianity and Tea at Trianon respectively]

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10 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Question:

A priest writes all this, and the bishops approve of it. If the bishops are the teachers, why didn't any of them write it?

Is it possible that the bishops abrogated their authority?

Mind you - I have no horse in this race (like the other guy said), I'm just asking academically.

8:09 AM  
Blogger love the girls said...

"we must take the Church's new formulation as authoritative" and "we should willingly renounce what the Church has renounced, and move on into the future"

Not so fast Mr. Zmirak,

We also must take the old formulas as authoritative.

1:34 PM  
Blogger The Western Confucian said...

Arturo Vasquez recently made the point, contra Dr. Zmirak's assertion above, that the Church does not (or did not) operate under the principle of "precedent" as in Common Law, wherein the latest formulation is the most authoritative. Instead, the Church gives (or gave) authority to the oldest pronouncements.

I try not to think too hard about all this stuff, so I'm unable to even speculate about Anon's question.

"Pray, pay, and obey." That's my model.

3:04 PM  
Blogger love the girls said...

"Instead, the Church gives (or gave) authority to the oldest pronouncements."

If that were so, then Vatican II along with Fr. Murray could be for all practical purposes put up on a high bookshelf and ignored, and we could dispense with the nuanced layered in nuanced brain teasers attempting to square the old with the new.

8:11 PM  
OpenID arturovasquez said...

When it comes to the history of Vatican II, many seem to have some sort of collective amnesia, as if what happened at the Council was a sort of exercise in automatic writing done by the Holy Ghost through the hands of the Council Fathers. I would have to reiterate that while I share the ends that Dignitatis Humanae had, as a theologically informed Catholic, I am not necessarily comfortable with the means. I think that the means by which it was implemented led to the ambiguity we have today. In other words, there was a way to get the same result, but get there in a less problematic manner.

Cardinal Ottaviani and the preparatory commission already had a schema regarding religious TOLERANCE that would have done pretty much what DH did, but without seeming to contradict what came before it. That was thrown out by the "Rhine Fathers" and Murray and Co. were brought in to fill the gap. It is one thing to advocate the free exercise of religion in the context of liberal modernity, but another thing to bestow "religious freedom" as a metaphysical and political right. In practice, the latter inevitably led to secularization of such countries as Colombia, Italy, and other parts of the Catholic world. Now, you have the Vatican trying to backpeddle and speak of the "Christian heritage of Europe" to try to prevent complete secularization. I say, and pardon my French, if they dislike what is going on now, it is their own damn fault.

I speak, of course, entirely in academic terms. No use crying over spilled milk.

8:38 PM  
Blogger love the girls said...

Arturo Vasquez writes : "I think that the means by which it was implemented led to the ambiguity we have today."

It's the ends where the real problems occur because the solution is not uncommonly to resort to "it's a mystery".

For instance, we used to have a fairly firm grasp on baptism, but now? We toss out limbo, (where the saints were prior to Christ's resurrection is anyone's guess), and reduce infant baptism to a mystery, i.e. :

"As regards children who have died without Baptism, the Church can only entrust them to the mercy of God . . . allow us to hope that there is a way of salvation for children who have died without Baptism"

4:32 AM  
Blogger love the girls said...

Adding on, the ambiguity in the Catechism has lead to the cult of miscarried family saints. Of which we would have five saints along with our six children.

And, if there's a faster way to cause enmity than by disagreeing theologically with a mother discoursing on her sainted miscarried baby, I've not found it.

4:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

«We toss out limbo, (where the saints were prior to Christ's resurrection is anyone's guess)»

In Hell. I figure that what Jesus did when "He descended into Hell" as the Apostles' Creed states was to liberate the just.

1:37 PM  
Blogger The Western Confucian said...

"Adding on, the ambiguity in the Catechism has lead to the cult of miscarried family saints. Of which we would have five saints along with our six children."

While I "hope that there is a way of salvation for children who have died without Baptism," I also pray for the souls of my miscarried children every day.

1:55 PM  
Blogger love the girls said...

Anonymous,

Limbo is a part of hell.

10:54 PM  

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