Crean on Religious Liberty
Some excerpts of note:
Quote: That is no doubt a caricature, in the sense that few if any reputable Catholic theologians would express themselves in so crude a way; yet something very like this view seems to be implied by the frequently heard claim that Dignitatis Humanæ, Vatican II’s Declaration on Religious Liberty, was a ‘groundbreaking’ or even ‘revolutionary’ document. At the very least it is commonly supposed that the 19th Century popes who wrote on the subject of religious liberty erred, and that their position was rejected by Vatican II. This was the opinion, for example, of the principle author of Dignitatis Humanæ, the Jesuit Father John Courtney Murray. Even those who do not charge these popes with doctrinal error seem inclined to the belief that their words were relevant only to the particular time in history in which they lived, and hence were not timeless, dogmatic declarations. Such seems, for example, to have been the tenor of some remarks made by the then Cardinal Ratzinger in 1990, at a press conference marking the publication of a document on the relationship between theologians and the magisterium. Yet ever since the promulgation Dignitatis Humanæ on 7th December 1965, there has been a small body of Catholics who have insisted that the Church has a consistent, timeless and hence irreformable on religious liberty, and that this teaching was at the very least obscured by the Vatican II declaration. It is well known, for example, that his dismay at what he took to be the rejection of traditional doctrine by the Roman authorities was a major cause of Archbishop Lefebvre’s decision to consecrate four successors in June 1988.

Quote:Of course as time went by it became increasingly impossible to put it into practice, as the popes themselves acknowledged; but we still find the traditional teaching maintained as the ideal in the approved theology manuals from the first half of the 20th Century and in standard works of reference such as the French Dictionnaire de Théologie Catholique. Fr Dominic Prummer, for example, says in his manual of moral theology that non-Christians can be forcibly prevented from promoting their beliefs in opposition to the Catholic Church, and states that a serious reason, gravis causa, is needed for a Christian ruler to allow public non-Christian worship. The Dictionnaire de Théologie Catholique in its turn, states that tolerance is not due to non-Catholic religions as a matter of justice, since error of itself has no rights, but that tolerance is granted to them either to avoid a greater evil or to obtain some good end.

  I’m not aware of any approved author who challenged this teaching. Even though later pre-conciliar Popes added some precisions to what their predecessors had taught, none of them ever contradicted it, or suggested that non-Catholic religions could be the object of anything other than toleration by the State. An interesting witness to the state of Catholic doctrine on the very eve of Vatican II is the schema produced for the council by the theological commission chaired by Cardinal Ottaviani. This document is entitled, On the Relations between the Church and the State, and On Religious Tolerance. It clearly expresses the traditional teaching of the Church on the right of a Catholic state to limit the public manifestations of other cults and to defend its citizens against the spreading of false doctrines. It also recognizes that the common good of both the Church and the State can require the toleration of non-Catholic religions.

  This document, of course, along with all but one of the other preparatory schemas, was discarded at the very beginning of Vatican II. In its place was put a document drafted by Cardinal Bea’s Secretariat for the Promotion of Christian Unity and entitled Freedom of Cult. This was the document that would ultimately be promulgated as Dignitatis Humanæ. 

Quote:The crux of the matter, then, is this. Dignitatis Humanæ appears prima facie to say that the State is required by the very nature of things to allow religions of all kinds to exist within itself, whereas the traditional teaching had said that the State is required per se to allow only Catholicism, and may tolerate other religions when particular, contingent circumstances, and hence not the very nature of things, so require it. In an article written for the American Ecclesiastical Review in 1953, Cardinal Ottaviani insisted that there had been no change in papal teaching in this area between the days of Innocent III and Pius XII, and that the principles laid down by the Popes were ‘a part of the patrimony of Catholic doctrine’. Yet only twelve years later, Dignitatis Humanæ failed to reaffirm this doctrinal patrimony, and seemed to many people to repudiate it.

  Dignitatis Humanæ claims in its introductory chapter to ‘leave intact’ the traditional Catholic teaching on the duties of individuals and societies towards the true religion, but says nothing about the apparent discrepancy between itself and that traditional teaching. The Relator of the document – the official charged with presenting it on the council floor - himself frankly admitted that this would be a matter for future theological studies to elucidate.

Messages In This Thread
Crean on Religious Liberty - by Crusader_Philly - 08-06-2012, 12:58 AM
Re: Crean on Religious Liberty - by Crusader_Philly - 08-06-2012, 01:01 AM
Re: Crean on Religious Liberty - by miner_luke - 08-06-2012, 09:24 PM

Users browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)