Wednesday, June 13, 2012

HHS Mandate, Religious Freedom, Vatican II

In the midst of the HHS mandate that is being discussed in the supreme court, it is helpful to take a look at the Vatican II document Dignitatis Humanae. It is the council's document on religious freedom.

Here are some high points from the document:

"the human person has a right to religious freedom" paragraph 2

"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." paragraph 2


"all men should be at once impelled by nature and also bound by a moral obligation to seek the truth, especially religious truth." paragraph 2

"Therefore the right to religious freedom has its foundation not in the subjective disposition of the person, but in his very nature." paragraph 2

"every man has the duty, and therefore the right, to seek the truth in matters religious in order that he may with prudence form for himself right and true judgments of conscience, under use of all suitable means." paragraph 3

"as the truth is discovered, it is by a personal assent that men are to adhere to it." paragraph 3

"the exercise of religion, of its very nature, consists before all else in those internal, voluntary and free acts whereby man sets the course of his life directly toward God." paragraph 3

"Injury therefore is done to the human person and to the very order established by God for human life, if the free exercise of religion is denied in society, provided just public order is observed." paragraph 3

"Government, in consequence, must acknowledge the right of parents to make a genuinely free choice of schools and of other means of education, and the use of this freedom of choice is not to be made a reason for imposing unjust burdens on parents, whether directly or indirectly. Besides, the right of parents are violated, if their children are forced to attend lessons or instructions which are not in agreement with their religious beliefs, or if a single system of education, from which all religious formation is excluded, is imposed upon all." paragraph 5

"In the use of all freedoms the moral principle of personal and social responsibility is to be observed."paragraph 7

"Wherefore this Vatican Council urges everyone, especially those who are charged with the task of educating others, to do their utmost to form men who, on the one hand, will respect the moral order and be obedient to lawful authority, and on the other hand, will be lovers of true freedom-men, in other words, who will come to decisions on their own judgment and in the light of truth, govern their activities with a sense of responsibility, and strive after what is true and right, willing always to join with others in cooperative effort.

Religious freedom therefore ought to have this further purpose and aim, namely, that men may come to act with greater responsibility in fulfilling their duties in community life." paragraph 8

"It is one of the major tenets of Catholic doctrine that man's response to God in faith must be free: no one therefore is to be forced to embrace the Christian faith against his own will." paragraph 10

"The disciple is bound by a grave obligation toward Christ, his Master, ever more fully to understand the truth received from Him, faithfully to proclaim it, and vigorously to defend it, never-be it understood-having recourse to means that are incompatible with the spirit of the Gospel." paragraph14 




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