Among the slogans of “politically correct” language there is the term “religious liberty”, which is used incorrectly at times by Catholics as a synonym for freedom for the Church or freedom for Christians. In reality the terms and concepts are different and it is necessary to clarify them. The ambiguity present in the Conciliar declaration Dignitatis humanae(1965) arose from the lack of distinction between the internal forum, which is in the sphere of personal conscience, and the public space, which is in the sphere of the community, or rather the profession and propagation of one’s personal religious convictions.
The Church, with Pope Gregory XVI in Mirari Vos (1836), with Pope Pius IX in the Syllabus and in Quanta Cura (1864), but also with Pope Leo XIII in Immortale Dei (1885) and in Libertas (1888) teaches that:
- 1. No one can be constricted to believe in the private forum, because faith is a personal choice formed in the conscience of man.
- 2. Man has no right to religious freedom in the public space, or rather freedom to profess whatever religion, because only the true and the good have rights and not what is error and is evil.
- 3. Public worship of false religions may be, in cases, tolerated by the civil authorities, with the view of obtaining a greater good or avoiding a greater evil, but, in essence, it may be repressed even by force if necessary. But the right to tolerance is a contradiction, because, as is evident even from the term, whatever is tolerated is never a good thing, rather, it is always a purely bad thing. In the social life of nations, error may be tolerated as a reality, but never allowed as a right. Error “has no right to exist objectively nor to propaganda, nor action” (Pius XII Speech Ci Riesce 1953)
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