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Part II.1: The Magisterium’s Understanding of Religious Freedom: Before the Council

By Jeremy Hausotter

July 7, 2020

Table of Contents


Chapter 1: The Meaning of Religious Freedom Before the Council

(a) Leo XII

(b) Gregory XVI

(c) Pius IX

(d) Leo XIII

(e) Pius X

(f) Pius XI

(g) Pius XII

(h) John XIII


In part one of this commentary on Dignitatis Humanae I had conducted a careful textual analysis. The task now is to understand what did the Magisterium teach about religious freedom. One of the major objections is that Vatican II’s teachings on religious freedom contradict the teachings of the pre-conciliar popes. To address this question one must look into the history of what the Magisterium taught. Part two is broken up into three chapters corresponding to three time periods, before the Council, during Vatican II, and afterwards. I then offer a concluding analysis of this objection.

Chapter 1: The Meaning of Religious Freedom Before the Council

One of the major questions surrounding Dignitatis Humanae is the question what does this document of Vatican II mean by the term “religious freedom”? By the time of Vatican II religious freedom had already been a subject of discussion for 100 years. What was this conversation? How did the Popes understand this principle? What was the debate about since the 19th century papacy repeatedly condemned “religious freedom”?

The pre-Vatican II Magisterium was worried about the rise of indifferentism and relativism, two basic worldviews with claims about truth and the ability to know truth, views about truth that liberal thinkers at the time proposed as the meaning of religious freedom. The charge of heresy against Dignitatis Humanae is leveled by some because there appears to be a contradiction between what the Council taught versus previous papal teachings with the many papal denouncements of indifferentism. Those who accuse Vatican II would like us to believe that the state of affairs here is clear, black and white, that Dignitatis Humanae fails to be in continuity with the Tradition and it is this historical-theological exegesis of religious freedom we hereby put on trial.

(a) Leo XII

We begin first with Leo XII, who first defines what is indifferentism. Indifferentism, according to Leo XII, teaches that in civil and religious affairs man has the freedom “to embrace and adopt without danger to his salvation whatever sect or opinion appeals to him on the basis of his private judgment.”[1] Indifferentism hence encompasses a both relativism and religious pluralism. Truth is relativized to the subjective whims of the person and his or her own preferences such that truth has no relevance to his or her life or afterlife. It is interesting to note that the Pope traces this view back to Apelles in the 2nd century AD.[2]

(b) Gregory XVI

Gregory XVI is the next Pope in line to condemn indifferentism. He defined it in Mirari Vos as the claim that “it is possible to obtain the eternal salvation of the soul by the profession of any kind of religion, as long as morality is maintained.”[3] This definition is a rejection of religious pluralism, the view that one can be saved through any religion regardless of the contents of that faith. Those who embrace religious pluralism claim that one can equally be saved through Catholicism, Islam or Buddhism for example. Each is equally salvifically capable. There is hence a kind of indifference as to what one believes for everyone can be saved regardless of any religion’s truth claims. This is clearly what is rejected given the numerous quotes in the same paragraph by Gregory XVI about the necessity of the Catholic Church and faith for one’s salvation. A very related question concerns Lumen Gentium and how its teachings on the relationship between the Church and those outside the Church in respect to salvation since no one can be saved outside the Church.[4]

Gregory XVI next condemns the idea that a liberty of conscience “must be maintained for everyone.”[5] This liberty of conscience is grounded in indifferentism. If all religions are salvific in of themselves, then each person has a right to follow his or her own religion regardless of that faith’s truth claims. Indifferentism presupposes a relativistic worldview. Each religion’s truth claims are irrelevant for one’s salvation since each religion is equally salvific, and so anyone who claims such must reject any absolute validity of the demands of truth has upon the person. This notion of religious freedom hence has its foundation in the doctrine of relativism and the Pope rightly rejected it.

It is understandable then as to why Gregory XVI vigorously rejected indifferentism across his papacy.[6] The Catholic faith was threatened by a worldview that would place the true revealed teachings of God on an equal footing with the many erroneous propositions of the other religions. Such a theory requires a definitive repudiation.

(c) Pius IX

The condemnation of indifferentism continued into the next papacy of Pius IX. In the first year of his pontificate he issued Qui Pluribus which again condemned indifferentism. Indifferentism is defined in the same manner as Gregory the XVI who grounded it in metaphysical relativism.[7]

Pius IX later in his pontificate condemns two meanings of indifferentism in Singulari quidem.[8] One meaning given here is the one previously rejected. The other can be described as an existential indifferentism. Pius IX describes this indifference as a cause in forgetting one’s duties to God, and “slacken” one’s concern for holiness, religion, law, justice, and virtue.[9] Both kinds of indifference must be rejected.

In Quanta Cura Pius IX develops the notion of indifference further.[10] The relativistic worldview presupposed in indifferentism is grounded in the notion of naturalism. Naturalism holds that

the best constitution of public society and (also) civil progress altogether require that human society be conducted and governed without regard being had to religion any more than if it did not exist; or, at least, without any distinction being made between the true religion and false ones.[11]

In other words, the naturalistic worldview requires a neutralism towards religion (which Dignitatis Humanae rejected). The state is to ignore religion. The state has no duties towards religion in general or the true faith in particular. Out of this neutralism is grounded the right and liberty of conscience and worship. Religious freedom in this context is a civil right that citizens enjoy with absoluteness. This right cannot be infringed upon by Church or state.

Rights in this context are located in the will of the people.[12] If the rights of man are located in the will of the people, then religion is isolated from any truth claims and the rights of man, and particularly rights in the domain of religion, are regulated by the will of the people, from which the state is to derive its civil power according to this model.

The consequences of this view are manifold. Religious freedom in this context originates out of a relativism that again has no relationship to objective truth. Truth is extrinsic to this right. The civil right itself is grounded in a constitutional principle of indifference towards religion. Not only is religion deemed unimportant, but whatever truth claims a religion makes is de facto declared irrelevant to a justly ordered society. Religion is thus delegated to the subjective opinions of man. Such a conception of religious freedom is correctly rejected.

Elsewhere in Pius IX’s corpus indifferentism is rejected,[13] especially in the Syllabus of Errors. Taken in of themselves the Syllabus appears to be a vehement rejection of religious freedom. We read for example that the following proposition is to be rejected: “Every man is free to embrace and profess that religion which, guided by the light of reason, he shall consider true.”[14] The allocution Maxima quidem is cited as support or reference for this teaching. This seemingly explicit rejection must be considered in its context. Here we follow the hermeneutic principle of Cardinal Newman:

In order to see the nature and extent of the blame cast on any proposition of the Syllabus, it is absolutely necessary to turn out the passage of the Allocution, Encyclical, or other document, in which the error is noted; for the wording of the errors which the Syllabus contains is to be interpreted by its references.[15]

In the allocution Pius IX rejects the rationalistic view that elevates human reason above religious truths such that the truths of religion are derived from reason. It is this interpretation of religious freedom that Pius IX rejects here.[16]

The Syllabus of Errors again rejects religious pluralism, citing Qui pluribus.[17] A particular version of this error which equates all of the Christian denominations is also rejected.[18] The Syllabus also rejects the views that the rights of the Church originate from the state and that the state is the source of all rights (which would be consistent with what was rejected earlier in Quanta Cura 3-4).[19]

The last four propositions to be rejected in the Syllabus represent a microrupture with Vatican II. Here are the first three:

In the present day it is no longer expedient that the Catholic religion should be held as the only religion of the State, to the exclusion of all other forms of worship.[20]

Hence it has been wisely decided by law, in some Catholic countries, that persons coming to reside therein shall enjoy the public exercise of their own peculiar worship.[21]

Moreover, it is false that the civil liberty of every form of worship, and the full power, given to all, of overtly and publicly manifesting any opinions whatsoever and thoughts, conduce more easily to corrupt the morals and minds of the people, and to propagate the pest of indifferentism.[22]

To understand the first two condemnations we must first refer to the referenced allocutions. Newman explained in his Letter to the Duke of Norfolk that the allocutions here were addressed to specific countries in protest to particular civil acts that violated concordat agreements with the Vatican. The referenced allocutions do not contain condemnations of any formal propositions.[23] The last proposition can be understood in light of the previous teachings of Pius IX of rejecting religious liberty as understood under the condemned meanings.

A microrupture arises because these propositions can be interpreted as a defense of political Christendom and the notion that error has no rights, such that false religions should not enjoy public worship in a state where Catholicism is the established religion, views which Dignitatis Humanae either rejected outright or distanced itself from quietly.

Here it must be pointed out that Dignitatis Humanae claimed to leave in tact traditional Catholic teachings. This means that the Council through public declaration is giving an authoritative interpretation of this tradition to be consistent with the text of Dignitatis Humanae. Exegesis of the Syllabus must be done within this context in order to understand what it authentically teaches and does not teach. Interpretations emphasizing a discontinuity between the Syllabus and Vatican II are thereby rejecting the Church’s own public teaching on the matter.[24]

The last proposition to be rejected in the Syllabus is the following: “The Roman Pontiff can, and ought to, reconcile himself, and come to terms with progress, liberalism and modern civilization.”[25] Newman noted in his Letter that this proposition does not show up at all in the referenced allocution.[26] The contents of the allocution was an argument against the idea that Pope ought to conform itself to the disastrous ideological movements of the 19th century which were broadly generalized as progress, liberalism, and modern civilization. This is not an ought right rejection in its entirety of these three things, only as conceived in the erroneous schools of thought of the 19th century.

It must be noted that Pius IX also used the term “religious freedom” in a positive sense, one however restricted exclusively to Catholics which is consistent with papal teachings on the divine rights of the Catholic Church.[27]

We can see that Pius IX has several meanings to “religious freedom”. He rejected the interpretations that grounded religious freedom in metaphysical relativism, existential indifference, naturalism, rationalism, religious pluralism, and the arbitrary will of the people. All of these interpretations in common sever man’s relationship to objective truth. Religious freedom however is also given a positive meaning but strictly in reference to members of the Catholic Church.

(d) Leo XIII

In Diuturnum Leo XIII contrasts two liberties, one of which is grounded in the will of the people, and the other which is based on natural law originating from God.[28] The encyclical condemns the first and defends the second meaning.[29] This notion of the will of the people is further developed in Immortale Dei.[30] Leo XIII begins by noting the equality of all man and their equal autonomy. Each man is his own master not under the authority of another with the freedom to think howsoever he chooses on any subject. In this view no man has “any right to rule over other men.”[31] The state on this model is reduced to the will of the people and governs in the name of this will.

The next article explains the theological consequences of this view.[32] God is ignored as if He does not exist. Society is conducted as if it owed God nothing and the power of the state obtains its authority not from God but the multitude. The state hence has no duties towards God from which the conclusion is drawn that the state has no duties to any particular religion. Therefore every religion is given equal rights so that the public order is not disturbed.

Religious belief in this system is relegated to one’s private opinion. One is independent in determining these matters. Religion is based on preference and judged in light of a conscience “independent of all law.”[33] It is this worldview which Leo XIII rejects, this system of indifference which is equivalent to atheism.[34] If religious freedom is based upon such views, the Catholic is right to object due to its radical relativism void of any reference to God, the eternal law and objective truth. Leo XIII cites Gregory XVI’s Mirari Vos in his rejection of religious liberty in which religious liberty was interpreted to be grounded in a conscience independent of natural law.[35] It is furthermore considered unlawful “to place the various forms of divine worship on the same footing as the true religion…”[36] False religions while containing some truths cannot be equal to the fullness of truth revealed by Christ through Catholic Christianity. Other religions can be allowed for the sake of “securing some great good or hindering some great evil…”[37] but they are not to be accepted in any manner which results in religious pluralism.

Leo XIII next moves into a dialectic between false and true liberty. The false liberty described previously leads to an enslavement of man, a “liberty of self ruin”.[38] In contrast the Pope explicates the fruits of true liberty.[39] Leo XIII’s dialectic between these two liberties is one is premised on erroneous philosophical views while the other is consistent with the Catholic faith and can be authentically developed philosophically.[40] The critical point is this: “the best parent and guardian of liberty amongst men is truth. ‘The truth shall make you free.”[41] It is truth which determines true liberty from false liberty, determining whether one is being led towards enslavement or to freedom. True liberty grounded in objective truth will be consistent with natural law.[42]

Three years after Immortale Dei Leo XIII wrote Libertas, an entire encyclical dedicated to the theme of liberty. In the opening sentence Leo XIII defines liberty as “the highest of natural endowments, being the portion only of intellectual or rational natures, conferences on man this dignity - that he is ‘in the hand of his counsel’ and has power over his actions.”[43] Here we learn that liberty is rooted in man’s rational nature and in particular his free will.[44]

In the next article Leo XIII again makes a distinction between false and true liberty, that whatever consists as true liberty will be “as ancient as truth itself” and which the Church highly approves of.[45] The Pope then proceeds to discuss the metaphysics of liberty.

Leo XIII distinguishes between moral and natural liberty. Natural liberty is the free will faculty grounded in the rational soul which is simple, spiritual, and immortal.[46] Hence only persons have natural liberty. Liberty can hence be defined as “the faculty of choosing means fitted for the end proposed, for he is master of his actions who can choose one thing out of many.”[47]

In order to choose the good, the good must be known by the intellect. An object must be judged good by the intellect since choice is subsequent to the act of judgment. In other words the volitional object of the will must be determined by the intellect to be good and that it is true that is good. The object in its truth as good must be presented as an object that should or can be chosen. The end of liberty then is “that good which is in conformity with reason.”[48]

The next article elaborates the metaphysical foundation of false liberty.[49] False liberty on the other hand is against reason. It arises due to the imperfection of man’s faculties. The objects of false liberty have the appearance of the good but are not actually good. These false objects of the will are analogous with error and perversions of the intellect. Those who choose false liberty hence become slaves of sin.

Since man’s faculties are imperfect such that man can be led away from his true good he needs law to direct him towards what is good and to avoid evil.[50] Freedom requires law. This law is natural law which is the eternal law implanted in rational creatures directing them towards their proper end.[51] The laws of communities must also follow the eternal law.[52] “The eternal law of God is the sole standard and rule of human liberty, not only in each individual man, but also in the community and civil society which men constitute when united.”[53]

The false notion of liberty Leo XIII begins to criticize is premised on naturalism and rationalism, making man the measure of truth such that all laws are grounded in the will of the people and not eternal law.[54] This directly implies relativism and indifference towards religion.[55] The state furthermore would have no duty towards God except as determined by the will of the people.

It is within this context of naturalism, rationalism, and relativism that religious freedom is defined and premised on the principle “that every man is free to profess as he may choose any religion or none”, meaning that religious freedom in this context is regulated to one’s private opinion unhinged from eternal law and objective truth, equivocating the truth status of each religion and even atheism.[56]

Leo XIII later defines liberty of conscience. In one meaning of the phrase it is nothing more than this false notion of religious freedom already condemned. In a second meaning however it means that “every man in the State may follow the will of God and, from a consciousness of duty and free from every obstacle, obey His commands.”[57] This second meaning is true liberty and that which the Church has claimed since the Apostles. It is this true meaning of liberty of conscience the Council Fathers of Vatican II cites in Dignitatis Humanae in support of the teaching on religious freedom.[58]

This informs us that it is of the mind of the Council to see from this text of Leo XIII early support for what will be developed into the teaching on religious freedom. Vatican II is hence giving an authoritative interpretation of the true meaning of liberty found here in Libertas. This is crucial for understanding how the Magisterium interprets these texts in light of the debate between Catholics and traditionalists who reject Dignitatis Humanae in favor of the 19th century papal teachings. Vatican II here uses a hermeneutic of continuity with past teachings whereas the traditionalists embraced one of discontinuity and in doing so misunderstand how to interpret the Tradition.

The false liberty the Pope condemns has its roots in disobedience, revolution, and the enthronement of opinion unguided by eternal law. It is unhinged from objective truth. This liberalism proclaims for itself an unrestricted freedom from eternal law. True liberty, on the other hand, is grounded in obedience and submission to authority, namely God and eternal law first, then civil authority.

Leo XIII also has a positive view of religious freedom but in the same context as Pius IX that it is interpreted according to the divine rights of the Catholic Church.[59] Hence Leo XIII has at least two positive meanings to religious liberty: one understood as the divine rights of the Catholic Church and the other as the authentic meaning of liberty of conscience in obeying and following God.

We see here that Leo XIII continued many of the same themes as Pius IX on religious freedom. The false notion established upon naturalism, relativism, indifferentism, and the will of the people are condemned again. Leo XIII investigates more fundamentally or more primordially than Pius IX however in that he analyzes the existential core content of liberty in his encyclicals. False liberty begins with a rebellion and divorce from objective truth. It is fundamentally a prideful act of disobedience against truth and God’s Providence. True liberty on the other hand humbly obeys and embraces truth, accepts and follows the eternal law, all of which is teleologically ordered to God.

(e) Pius X

The notion of religious liberty considered thus far has been viewed as an indifferentism according to Leo XII and Gregory XVI which Pius IX and Leo XIII later grounded in naturalism and rationalism. Pius X gives a new interpretation of religious liberty.

In his encyclical Pascendi Dominici Gregis Pius X outlines what modernism is. It begins with an agnosticism grounded in a radical empiricism that eliminates natural theology.[60] Once this is the accepted worldview, then man cannot look outside himself for religious truths, but must now look within himself. Religion must be explained and grounded within the life of man, becoming a religious immanence. This immanence hence teaches that religion is a sentiment or a need of the subconsciousness.[61] Faith itself becomes nothing more than a sentiment, an emotion. Revelation likewise becomes a product of emotion. In this view religious consciousness and revelation are given equal authority.[62] If one embraces this, then the logical outcome is religious pluralism.[63]

It is within this context that religious freedom is claimed. Religions and religious communities are nothing more than manifestations of individual and collective consciousnesses and their emotions.[64] As such manifestations each is equally true with equal rights. This form of religious freedom is an emotionalism.

(f) Pius XI

Pius XI follows Leo XIII’s distinction between the two meanings of liberty of conscience in Non Abbiamo Bisogno.[65] The true interpretation is based on the right of the Church to fulfill her Divine Commission and for her members to evangelize.[66] In contrast the false view means an absolute independence of conscience.[67]

In Mortalium Animos Pius XI repeats the condemnation on religious pluralism.[68] Later in the same encyclical indifferentism is again condemned, citing its doctrine of relativism which if accepted would requires the rejection of the immutability of revelation.[69]

Up to this point the Popes have condemned religious freedom because of its relativism and divorce from natural law and objective truth. These are all negative condemnations. Pius XI introduces a new meaning of religious freedom, a positive meaning in his encyclical Mit Brennender Sorge.

Article 30 teaches that the moral content of positive law must be grounded in natural law. Since man is a person he possesses rights which have their origin from God. The state hence has a duty to protect these rights. Man’s nature measures the common good. The state and society must therefore balance personal rights and social obligations with these divinely endowed rights, man’s nature, and the end of society (which is for “the full development of individual possibilities”).

Immediately after this in the next article Pius XI teaches that “The believer has an absolute right to profess his Faith and live according to its dictates. Laws which impede this profession and practice of Faith are against natural law.”[70] There are no qualifications about who this believer is regarding his creed in the immediate context. Earlier in the encyclical the term “religious freedom” is used in the context of Catholicism.[71] The question arises how to interpret “believer”. Does this refer strictly to Catholics or is it a general pronouncement? Vatican II interpreted it as a general pronouncement and cited it in support of its declaration of religious freedom.[72]

The historical context also defends a broader interpretation of the text. This encyclical was originally written in German for Nazi Germany at the eve of WWII, at a time when the religious freedom of Catholics and Jews was being suppressed by the state. The encyclical is Pius XI’s condemnation of the German state, which amongst their crimes was the violation of religious freedom.

The condemnation of religious liberty as described by Leo XII, Gregory XVI, Pius IX, Leo XIII, and Pius X does not apply to this new understanding for now a meaning of religious freedom is interpreted to be grounded in natural law, which is directly antithetical of the condemned view since it rejected natural law. Pius XI claims here that there is a true meaning of religious freedom not described in the last 100 years of condemnations.

If one were to take Pius XI’s statement to its conclusion based on the teachings of the previous paragraph, then we can formulate the following argument:

  1. Rights based in natural law have their origin from God (article 30).

  2. Religious freedom is one such right grounded in natural law (article 31).

  3. Therefore religious freedom has its origin from God.

(g) Pius XII

Pope Pius XII also acknowledges an authentic freedom of religion. One of the great evils of modern society according to him is the prohibitive restrictions of exercising this right.[73] Pius XII’s radio message of Dec 24, 1942 also states that amongst the fundamental rights of man includes the right to worship God publicly and privately.[74]

(h) John XXIII

In Pacem in terris John XXIII states that man has the right to worship God according to his conscience and profess his religion publicly and privately.[75] This right to religious freedom is grounded in the fact that man is a person, and as a person is a bearer of rights and duties flowing from human nature. Hence the rights of man are universal, inviolable, and inalienable.[76]

In this encyclical the Pope makes a crucial distinction later on between “error as such” and the person in error.[77] The man in error does not lose his dignity. This man may believe in false propositions on religion but he still possesses his religious liberty. Such individuals are hence a call for Catholics to enter into ecumenical dialogue with them.[78]

(i) Conclusion

The Popes have taught two basic meanings of religious freedom, a false view ultimately  rooted in some variation of relativism and a true view grounded in the dignity of the human person that preserves the relationship between freedom, truth, and natural law. Catholic social teaching took a new turn with Leo XIII’s distinction between true and false liberty for this planted the seed for an authentically positive meaning of religious freedom to be recognized. The last 20 years preceding Vatican II the papacy discovered a general right to religious freedom for all men from Pius XI to John XXIII. A rejection of this right therefore is an act of disobedience not only to the Council and postconciliar Church, but even the preconciliar Magisterium under the papacies of Pius XI and Pius XII. The question before us now is the debate during the Council on the meaning of religious freedom.

Section Endnotes

[1] Ubi Primum 12.

[2] Ibid, 13.

[3] Mirari Vos 13.

[4] Cf. LG 14-16.

[5] Mirari Vos 14.

[6] Gregory XVI also condemns indifferentism in Singulari Nos 3, Commissum Divinitus 9 and Inter Praecipuas 9.

[7] “Also perverse is the shocking theory that it makes no difference to which religion one belongs, a theory which is greatly at variance even with reason. By means of this theory, those crafty men remove all distinction between virtue and vice, truth and error, honorable and vile action. They pretend that men can gain eternal salvation by the practice of any religion, as if there could ever be any sharing between justice and iniquity, any collaboration between light and darkness, or any agreement between Christ and Belial.” Qui Pluribus 15.

[8] Singulari quidem 3.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Quanta Cura 3.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Ibid, 4.

[13] Apostolicae Nostrae Caritatis 1, Quanto Conficiamur Moerore 3, and Exultavit Cor Nostrum 2.

[14] Syllabus of Errors 15.

[15] St. John Henry Newman, Letter to the Duke of Norfolk, vol 2, section 7, p. 283-284.

[16] “They rashly assert that human reason, without any reference to God, is the only judge of truth and falsehood, good and evil, and that human reason is a law unto itself, and suffices by its own natural power for the care of the good of persons and peoples. But since they perversely dare to derive all truths of religion from the inborn force of human reason, they assign to man a certain basic right, from which he can think and speak about religion as he likes, and give such honor and worship to God as he finds more agreeable to himself.” Maxima quidem.

[17] “Man may, in the observance of any religion whatever, find the way of eternal salvation, and arrive at eternal salvation.” Syllabus of Errors 16.

[18] “Protestantism is nothing more than another form of the same true Christian religion, in which form it is given to please God equally as in the Catholic Church.” Syllabus of Errors 18.

[19] “The Church is not a true and perfect society, entirely free- nor is she endowed with proper and perpetual rights of her own, conferred upon her by her Divine Founder; but it appertains to the civil power to define what are the rights of the Church, and the limits within which she may exercise those rights.” Syllabus of Errors 19. “The State, as being the origin and source of all rights, is endowed with a certain right not circumscribed by any limits.” Syllabus of Errors 39.

[20] Syllabus of Errors 77.

[21] Ibid, 78.

[22] Ibid, 79.

[23] Letter to the Duke of Norfolk, vol 2, section 7, p. 285, 287-288.

[24] I here want to credit the basic form of this argument to Fr. William Most in his article Vatican II vs Pius IX? A Study in Lefebvrism.

[25] Syllabus of Errors 80.

[26] Letter to the Duke of Norfolk, vol 2, section 7, p. 286.

[27] Graves Ac Diuturnae, 1.

[28] Diuturnum 4, 5.

[29] The Church is “never opposed to honest liberty…” ibid, 26.

[30] Immortale Dei 24.

[31] Ibid, 24.

[32] Ibid, 25.

[33] Ibid, 26.

[34] Ibid, 31.

[35] Ibid, 34.

[36] Ibid, 36.

[37] Ibid, 36.

[38] Ibid, 37.

[39] Ibid, 37-38.

[40] Ibid, 39-40.

[41] Ibid, 40.

[42] Ibid, 47.

[43] Libertas 1.

[44] Leo XIII explicitly identifies liberty with free will later: “freedom of choice is a property of the will, or, rather, is identical with the will in so far as it has in its action the faculty of choice.” Ibid, 5.

[45] Ibid, 2.

[46] Ibid, 3-4.

[47] Ibid, 5.

[48] Ibid, 5.

[49] Ibid, 6.

[50] Ibid, 7.

[51] Ibid, 8.

[52] Ibid, 9.

[53] Ibid, 10.

[54] Ibid, 15.

[55] Ibid, 16.

[56] Ibid, 19.

[57] Ibid, 30.

[58] DH 2.1n2.

[59] Officio Sanctissimo, 12.

[60] Pascendi Dominici Gregis, 6.

[61] Ibid, 7.

[62] Ibid, 8.

[63] Ibid, 14.

[64] Ibid, 23.

[65] Non Abbiamo Bisogno, 41.

[66] Ibid, 40, 42.

[67] Ibid, 41.

[68] Mortalium Animos, 6.

[69] Ibid, 9.

[70] Mit Brennender Sorge, 31. Article 36 in the German edition.

[71] Ibid, 6.

[72] DH 2.1n2.

[73] “Millions of men are not allowed the free exercise of their basic rights, particularly as regards religious freedom which is hindered by communism-and racial equality.” Pius XII, Guiding Principles Of The Lay Apostolate, 17.

[74] One can also cite his Radio message, Dec 24, 1944 as well.

[75] “Also among man's rights is that of being able to worship God in accordance with the right dictates of his own conscience, and to profess his religion both in private and in public.” Pacem in terris, 14.

[76] “Any well-regulated and productive association of men in society demands the acceptance of one fundamental principle: that each individual man is truly a person. His is a nature, that is, endowed with intelligence and free will. As such he has rights and duties, which together flow as a direct consequence from his nature. These rights and duties are universal and inviolable, and therefore altogether inalienable.” Ibid, 9.

[77] “It is always perfectly justifiable to distinguish between error as such and the person who falls into error—even in the case of men who err regarding the truth or are led astray as a result of their inadequate knowledge, in matters either of religion or of the highest ethical standards. A man who has fallen into error does not cease to be a man. He never forfeits his personal dignity; and that is something that must always be taken into account. Besides, there exists in man's very nature an undying capacity to break through the barriers of error and seek the road to truth. God, in His great providence, is ever present with His aid. Today, maybe, a man lacks faith and turns aside into error; tomorrow, perhaps, illumined by God's light, he may indeed embrace the truth.” Ibid, 158.

[78] “Catholics who, in order to achieve some external good, collaborate with unbelievers or with those who through error lack the fullness of faith in Christ, may possibly provide the occasion or even the incentive for their conversion to the truth.” Ibid, 158.

Commentary on Dignitatis Humanae

Part I.1: Commentary on the Text, Articles 1-3

Part I.2: Commentary on the Text, Articles 4-8

Part I.3: Commentary on the Text, Articles 9-15

Part II.1: The Magisterium’s Understanding of Religious Freedom: Before the Council

Part II.2: The Magisterium’s Understanding of Religious Freedom: During and After the Council

Part III: Dignitatis Humanae and the SSPX

Part IV: Dignitatis Humanae and Marcel Lefebvre

Disputation of the Holy Sacrament by Raphael 
Wikimedia Commons

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