(Humankind) rightly fears falling victim to an oppression that will deprive (us) of (our) interior freedom, of the possibility of expressing the truth of which (we are) convinced, of the faith that (we) profess, of the ability to obey the voice of conscience that tells (us) the right path to follow. The technical means at the disposal of modern society conceal within themselves not only the possibility of self-destruction through military conflict, but also the possibility of a “peaceful” subjugation of individuals, of environments, of entire societies and of nations, that for one reason or another might prove inconvenient for those who possess the necessary means and are ready to use them without scruple. An instance is the continued existence of torture, systematically used by authority as a means of domination and political oppression and practiced by subordinates with impunity.
I imagine this brief mention of torture would, if recalled, cause a few squirms in the post-9/11 neocon flock. War is not the only thing tearing and biting away at human dignity:
Together with awareness of the biological threat, therefore, there is a growing awareness of yet another threat, even more destructive of what is essentially human, what is intimately bound up with the dignity of the person and his or her right to truth and freedom.
Dives in Misericordia, the second encyclical of Pope John Paul II, is available online here, and is copyright © 1980 – Libreria Editrice Vaticana