DH 8: Proper and Disciplined Use of Religious Freedom

Dignitatis Humanae 8 acknowledges situations in which people feel various pressures compromising their religion, judgment, and conscience. But …

On the other hand, not a few can be found who seem inclined to use the name of freedom as the pretext for refusing to submit to authority and for making light of the duty of obedience.

What to do? People possessing freedom will always take the occasional opportunity to abuse it. Educators are urged to do their utmost to form (people) 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-(people), 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.

The good of the community, not the good of the individual is given an additional aim, that people “come to act with greater responsibility in fulfilling their duties in community life.”

At the halfway point, DH strikes me as a document strongly underscoring the need for personal freedom, but the American sensibility of self-determination is muted by two superior values: the search for the truth and the common good of society.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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