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Church, State, and Religious Liberty: Syllabus of Errors v. Dignitatis Humanae

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  • Church, State, and Religious Liberty: Syllabus of Errors v. Dignitatis Humanae

    The purpose of this thread is to provide a place for Timeless Theist and me to discuss the relationship between the Vatican II document on religious freedom and the Catholic tradition on the subject. It is my expectation that a close reading of both Dignitatis Humanae and Pius IX's Syllabus of Errors, the document most frequently cited as contradicting it, will ultimately not only resolve the contradiction, but provide further useful insights into the relationship between church and state as understood by the Church.

    Other participants are welcome, provided that they maintain a respectful tone.

    I have picked out a few seemingly relevant sections from Pope Pius IX's Syllabus of Errors (readers note that every statement therein is being called erroneous). TT, feel free to make note of each of these and keep them in your back pocket until we come across those sections of Dignitatis Humanae to which they seem relevant. If there are other sources that you think should be brought in here (e.g. the relevant section from http://www.sspxasia.com/Documents/Si...vatican_II.htm), make note of them, and we can keep those in mind as well.

    Originally posted by Syllabus of Errors
    http://www.papalencyclicals.net/Pius09/p9syll.htm

    15. Every man is free to embrace and profess that religion which, guided by the light of reason, he shall consider true. -- Allocution "Maxima quidem," June 9, 1862; Damnatio "Multiplices inter," June 10, 1851.

    16. Man may, in the observance of any religion whatever, find the way of eternal salvation, and arrive at eternal salvation. -- Encyclical "Qui pluribus," Nov. 9, 1846.

    17. Good hope at least is to be entertained of the eternal salvation of all those who are not at all in the true Church of Christ. -- Encyclical "Quanto conficiamur," Aug. 10, 1863, etc.

    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. -- Encyclical "Noscitis," Dec. 8, 1849.
    [...]
    77. 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. -- Allocution "Nemo vestrum," July 26, 1855.

    78. 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. -- Allocution "Acerbissimum," Sept. 27, 1852.

    79. 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. -- Allocution "Nunquam fore," Dec. 15, 1856.

    80. The Roman Pontiff can, and ought to, reconcile himself, and come to terms with progress, liberalism and modern civilization.- -Allocution "Jamdudum cernimus," March 18, 1861.
    And here's a link to Dignitatis Humanae. At 15 sections, it's a very brief document by Vatican standards. I figured we could take it a chapter or even paragraph at a time.

    http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_c...umanae_en.html

    So, TT, does this format seem acceptable to you?
    Don't call it a comeback. It's a riposte.

  • #2
    So, TT, does this format seem acceptable to you?
    Yes, pretty much. Thanks.
    Better to illuminate than merely to shine, to deliver to others contemplated truths than merely to contemplate.

    -Thomas Aquinas

    I love to travel, But hate to arrive.

    -Hernando Cortez

    What is the good of experience if you do not reflect?

    -Frederick 2, Holy Roman Emperor

    Comment


    • #3
      Edited by a Moderator
      Last edited by Bill the Cat; 09-04-2014, 08:21 PM.
      Glendower: I can call spirits from the vasty deep.
      Hotspur: Why, so can I, or so can any man;
      But will they come when you do call for them? Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 1, Act III:

      go with the flow the river knows . . .

      Frank

      I do not know, therefore everything is in pencil.

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      • #4
        Moderated By: Bill the Cat

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        • #5
          Then let's dive in, shall we?

          Prefatory note: the principal author/inspiration of Dignitatis Humanae was the American Jesuit John Courtney Murray. Murray's impetus for beginning the project of reconciling the Church's tradition with the idea of religious freedom seems to have been the 1st Amendment and the subsequent Catholic experience in America. It seemed to Murray and others that truth, and therefore Catholicism, benefits from a free intellectual environment , but that is not ultimately the foundation on which Vatican II builds a Catholic argument for religious liberty. Rather, that argument depends on a certain understanding of the dignity of the individual and the individual conscience.

          A sense of the dignity of the human person has been impressing itself more and more deeply on the consciousness of contemporary man, and the demand is increasingly made that men should act on their own judgment, enjoying and making use of a responsible freedom, not driven by coercion but motivated by a sense of duty. The demand is likewise made that constitutional limits should be set to the powers of government, in order that there may be no encroachment on the rightful freedom of the person and of associations. This demand for freedom in human society chiefly regards the quest for the values proper to the human spirit. It regards, in the first place, the free exercise of religion in society. This Vatican Council takes careful note of these desires in the minds of men. It proposes to declare them to be greatly in accord with truth and justice. To this end, it searches into the sacred tradition and doctrine of the Church-the treasury out of which the Church continually brings forth new things that are in harmony with the things that are old.
          I would like to draw particular attention to the underlined sections-- the first few because they are particularly helpful in setting up the argument, the last two because they help exemplify the ideas of aggiornamento and ressourcement, as described in the other thread.

          The Church sees these arguments for religious freedom out in the world, but it does not accept them simply because they are popular, not does it reject them simply because they are modern. It takes the arguments and reflects on them, measuring them against several parts of the orthodox Catholic tradition.

          Before I go any further, I'd like to add another argument to your pile of possible ammunition against Dignitatis Humanae: St. Augustine's argument in favor of the use of coercive force against the Donatists. I don't recall the details well enough off-hand to be able to recount them, but I wanted to make sure you were at least aware enough of Augustine's view of religious coercion to be able to research it for yourself.
          Don't call it a comeback. It's a riposte.

          Comment


          • #6
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            • #7
              One further point from this first section: Dignitatis Humanae, from the very beginning, talks not only about the rights of individuals, but also of associations.

              If you have no particular questions or points to raise on what we have so far, TT, I'll put something together on the rest of section 1.
              Don't call it a comeback. It's a riposte.

              Comment


              • #8
                Murray's impetus for beginning the project of reconciling the Church's tradition with the idea of religious freedom seems to have been the 1st Amendment and the subsequent Catholic experience in America.
                Well, I don't deny that, go on.

                It seemed to Murray and others that truth, and therefore Catholicism, benefits from a free intellectual environment
                What do you mean by "free intellectual environment"? Are territories that enact religious freedom considered a "free intellectual environment"?

                The Church sees these arguments for religious freedom out in the world, but it does not accept them simply because they are popular, not does it reject them simply because they are modern. It takes the arguments and reflects on them, measuring them against several parts of the orthodox Catholic tradition.

                I find it really hard to accept that religious liberty is in line with orthodox Catholic tradition. It doesn't take much research to figure out that the Church didn't care about religious freedom until about 80 years ago, and furthermore, the idea that religious freedom should be required was condemned by the Syllabus of Errors.
                Better to illuminate than merely to shine, to deliver to others contemplated truths than merely to contemplate.

                -Thomas Aquinas

                I love to travel, But hate to arrive.

                -Hernando Cortez

                What is the good of experience if you do not reflect?

                -Frederick 2, Holy Roman Emperor

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by TimelessTheist View Post
                  Well, I don't deny that, go on. What do you mean by "free intellectual environment"? Are territories that enact religious freedom considered a "free intellectual environment"?
                  On a level playing field, the strongest ideas win. In America, Catholicism was able to make an argument for itself based on the truth of its doctrine, not the strength of the government trying to convince people to act Catholic, and consequently flourished. Is that clearer?

                  I find it really hard to accept that religious liberty is in line with orthodox Catholic tradition. It doesn't take much research to figure out that the Church didn't care about religious freedom until about 80 years ago, and furthermore, the idea that religious freedom should be required was condemned by the Syllabus of Errors.
                  Now, now-- the reason I put the relevant sections of the Syllabus in the OP is so that we can make specific reference to those sections instead of just pointing in the general direction of the document.

                  I'd also point out that, in the opening paragraph, the religious freedom of individuals and associations is pitted not against the Church directly, but against government.
                  Don't call it a comeback. It's a riposte.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    On a level playing field, the strongest ideas win. In America, Catholicism was able to make an argument for itself based on the truth of its doctrine, not the strength of the government trying to convince people to act Catholic, and consequently flourished. Is that clearer?
                    When was the strength of a Catholic government ever used as an argument to the truth of Catholicism? Still, I don't see why pre-Vatican 2 couldn't have made arguments based on the truth of its doctrines as well.

                    Now, now-- the reason I put the relevant sections of the Syllabus in the OP is so that we can make specific reference to those sections instead of just pointing in the general direction of the document.

                    I'd also point out that, in the opening paragraph, the religious freedom of individuals and associations is pitted not against the Church directly, but against government.
                    Alright then, here's the specific passages:

                    15. Every man is free to embrace and profess that religion which, guided by the light of reason, he shall consider true. -- Allocution "Maxima quidem," June 9, 1862; Damnatio "Multiplices inter," June 10, 1851.
                    77. 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. -- Allocution "Nemo vestrum," July 26, 1855.
                    That seems pretty clearly against a requirement of religious freedom. Not to mention the Bible itself speaks against such things....
                    Last edited by TimelessTheist; 09-06-2014, 07:09 PM.
                    Better to illuminate than merely to shine, to deliver to others contemplated truths than merely to contemplate.

                    -Thomas Aquinas

                    I love to travel, But hate to arrive.

                    -Hernando Cortez

                    What is the good of experience if you do not reflect?

                    -Frederick 2, Holy Roman Emperor

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Sorry for the delay. I'm also gonna be away from my computer for the better part of the next week. I may be able to respond Thursday, but if not, it won't be until next Monday.

                      It's not that the strength of the government is an argument against Catholicism, but that people practice Catholicism for earthly benefits only. That's not to say that disestablishment cures this entirely, but it helps.

                      With respect to 77, we see the words "no longer expedient"-- this has no bearing on whether it ought to be considered just

                      With respect to 15, I think we'll find that the argument Dignitatis Humanae advances doesn't quite contradict that condemnation.

                      You say the Bible condemns the idea of religious freedom: could you be convinced provide a specific reference or two that demonstrates that, in Biblical Israel, the political authority was supposed to try to force everyone under their authority to adopt Jewish practices (does this include circumcision)?
                      Don't call it a comeback. It's a riposte.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Clarification r.e. point 77. The argument to which the Pope is responding is not a complex theological argument, but one from political expediency, like those who say the Church should change its teaching on contraception. 77 is not a rejection of a principled argument, but of an unprincipled concession to the spirit of the times.
                        Don't call it a comeback. It's a riposte.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Spartacus View Post
                          Sorry for the delay. I'm also gonna be away from my computer for the better part of the next week. I may be able to respond Thursday, but if not, it won't be until next Monday.

                          It's not that the strength of the government is an argument against Catholicism, but that people practice Catholicism for earthly benefits only. That's not to say that disestablishment cures this entirely, but it helps.

                          With respect to 77, we see the words "no longer expedient"-- this has no bearing on whether it ought to be considered just

                          With respect to 15, I think we'll find that the argument Dignitatis Humanae advances doesn't quite contradict that condemnation.

                          You say the Bible condemns the idea of religious freedom: could you be convinced provide a specific reference or two that demonstrates that, in Biblical Israel, the political authority was supposed to try to force everyone under their authority to adopt Jewish practices (does this include circumcision)?
                          Eh, I think there's been a misunderstanding. I'm not talking about the allowance of religious freedom, as the Church couldn't actually condemn such a society theologically, they just strongly advised against it, I'm speaking against the 'requirement' of religious freedom spoken of in Dignatatis Humanae. Essentially, religious freedom is not only allowed anymore, it's required to be practiced by all Catholics ever.

                          You say the Bible condemns the idea of religious freedom: could you be convinced provide a specific reference or two that demonstrates that, in Biblical Israel, the political authority was supposed to try to force everyone under their authority to adopt Jewish practices (does this include circumcision)?
                          I suppose you're talking about the fact that Israel allowed aliens to settle and make homes in Israel? Well, you have to know that they, even if they didn't actually follow Yahweh, they 'did' have to follow Mosaic law within the borders of Israel. This isn't really any different than the Christian monarchs letting Jews settle in their respective territories, with restrictions that they can't try to spread their religion, blaspheme the Christian God, can't choose to become a Christian, then apostatize back to Judiasm within the territories of the kingdom, ect. In that sense, the Bible certainly condemns such an idea.
                          Better to illuminate than merely to shine, to deliver to others contemplated truths than merely to contemplate.

                          -Thomas Aquinas

                          I love to travel, But hate to arrive.

                          -Hernando Cortez

                          What is the good of experience if you do not reflect?

                          -Frederick 2, Holy Roman Emperor

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Spartacus View Post
                            Sorry for the delay. I'm also gonna be away from my computer for the better part of the next week. I may be able to respond Thursday, but if not, it won't be until next Monday.

                            It's not that the strength of the government is an argument against Catholicism, but that people practice Catholicism for earthly benefits only. That's not to say that disestablishment cures this entirely, but it helps.

                            With respect to 77, we see the words "no longer expedient"-- this has no bearing on whether it ought to be considered just

                            With respect to 15, I think we'll find that the argument Dignitatis Humanae advances doesn't quite contradict that condemnation.

                            You say the Bible condemns the idea of religious freedom: could you be convinced provide a specific reference or two that demonstrates that, in Biblical Israel, the political authority was supposed to try to force everyone under their authority to adopt Jewish practices (does this include circumcision)?
                            Eh, I think there's been a misunderstanding. I'm not talking about the allowance of religious freedom, as the Church couldn't actually condemn such a society theologically, they just strongly advised against it, I'm speaking against the 'requirement' of religious freedom spoken of in Dignatatis Humanae. Essentially, religious freedom is not only allowed anymore, it's required to be practiced by all Catholics ever.

                            You say the Bible condemns the idea of religious freedom: could you be convinced provide a specific reference or two that demonstrates that, in Biblical Israel, the political authority was supposed to try to force everyone under their authority to adopt Jewish practices (does this include circumcision)?
                            I suppose you're talking about the fact that Israel allowed aliens to settle and make homes in Israel? Well, you have to know that they, even if they didn't actually follow Yahweh, they 'did' have to follow Mosaic law within the borders of Israel. This isn't really any different than the Christian monarchs letting Jews settle in their respective territories, with restrictions that they can't try to spread their religion, blaspheme the Christian God, can't choose to become a Christian, then apostatize back to Judiasm within the territories of the kingdom, ect.

                            Clarification r.e. point 77. The argument to which the Pope is responding is not a complex theological argument, but one from political expediency, like those who say the Church should change its teaching on contraception. 77 is not a rejection of a principled argument, but of an unprincipled concession to the spirit of the times.
                            I don't really think it makes much of difference? It still clearly states that the concession that the Church 'has' to embrace religious freedom is wrong.
                            Last edited by TimelessTheist; 09-09-2014, 10:42 AM.
                            Better to illuminate than merely to shine, to deliver to others contemplated truths than merely to contemplate.

                            -Thomas Aquinas

                            I love to travel, But hate to arrive.

                            -Hernando Cortez

                            What is the good of experience if you do not reflect?

                            -Frederick 2, Holy Roman Emperor

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by TimelessTheist View Post
                              Eh, I think there's been a misunderstanding. I'm not talking about the allowance of religious freedom, as the Church couldn't actually condemn such a society theologically, they just strongly advised against it, I'm speaking against the 'requirement' of religious freedom spoken of in Dignatatis Humanae. Essentially, religious freedom is not only allowed anymore, it's required to be practiced by all Catholics ever.
                              I'm reminded of a speech Joseph Raztinger gave back when he was head of the CDF about, iirc, the instruction on liberation theology. He started out by observing that pretty much every journalist who wrote about it focused on chapter 5-- the section on the practical implications. Ratzinger rolled his eyes at this (in a rhetorical sense-- I'm not sure I could imagine him physically doing that), saying basically that all these journalists were misunderstanding chapter 5 because they didn't properly read or understand the first four chapters, which laid the intellectual and theological foundation for the policy r.e. liberation theology. What I'm getting at is that Dignitatis Humanae is not just a change in policy: it's a complete argument that must be understood on its own terms before we understand why the resultant policy is what it is. That's why the thread is a read-through of DH, not just a straightforward debate.

                              I suppose you're talking about the fact that Israel allowed aliens to settle and make homes in Israel? Well, you have to know that they, even if they didn't actually follow Yahweh, they 'did' have to follow Mosaic law within the borders of Israel. This isn't really any different than the Christian monarchs letting Jews settle in their respective territories, with restrictions that they can't try to spread their religion, blaspheme the Christian God, can't choose to become a Christian, then apostatize back to Judiasm within the territories of the kingdom, ect. In that sense, the Bible certainly condemns such an idea.
                              citations always help
                              Don't call it a comeback. It's a riposte.

                              Comment

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