DH 7: More Rights and Duties

Dignitatis Humanae 7 states:

The right to religious freedom is exercised in human society: hence its exercise is subject to certain regulatory norms. In the use of all freedoms the moral principle of personal and social responsibility is to be observed. 

Individuals and groups are morally “bound” to respect:

  • the rights of others
  • their own duties toward others
  • the common welfare of all.

The American notion of “rights” is extremely individualistic at times. The narcissistic emphasis on self long predates the so-called Me generations of the 80’s and the 60’s. Indeed, each of these generations produced significant movements of concern for others. It would be my contention that none of these generations were particularly more selfish than any other.

(We) are to deal with (others) in justice and civility. 

Can be tough, even within the boat.

DH 7 gives an important political instruction, and it should be noted that this falls within the responsibility of the laity, not the clergy:

Furthermore, society has the right to defend itself against possible abuses committed on the pretext of freedom of religion. It is the special duty of government to provide this protection. However, government is not to act in an arbitrary fashion or in an unfair spirit of partisanship. Its action is to be controlled by juridical norms which are in conformity with the objective moral order. These norms arise out of the need for the effective safeguard of the rights of all citizens and for the peaceful settlement of conflicts of rights, also out of the need for an adequate care of genuine public peace, which comes about when men live together in good order and in true justice, and finally out of the need for a proper guardianship of public morality. These matters constitute the basic component of the common welfare: they are what is meant by public order. For the rest, the usages of society are to be the usages of freedom in their full range: that is, the freedom of man is to be respected as far as possible and is not to be curtailed except when and insofar as necessary.


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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