Dignitatis Humanae

What Version of Human Dignity Should Catholics Defend?

Dignitatis Humanae, the Vatican II declaration on religious liberty, appeals to what it says is a growing awareness of human dignity. More recent Vatican pronouncements, including the new language in the Catechism on the death penalty, have done the same. In some ways, it’s easy to see why. The Church holds that God created man … Read more

Vatican II Followed Ottaviani on Church and State

For many people, Alfredo Ottaviani—head of the Holy Office (later the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith) from 1952 to 1968—is the epitome of intransigent, pre-Vatican II Catholicism. He is what the Council had repudiated and moved beyond, or so it is supposed. Indeed, the sentiment expressed by the motto of Cardinal Ottaviani’s coat … Read more

Did Vatican II Endorse Separation of Church and State?

This year, 2015, marks fifty years since the close of the Second Vatican Council. Yet the “battle” for the Council, the battle for its authentic meaning, which began even before the bishops concluded their deliberations in 1965, continues still today. A particular area of controversy is the Council’s teaching on the Church’s relationship to the … Read more

Those Intolerable Catholics – In Locke’s Time and Ours

Often touted as a landmark text in the history of religious freedom, John Locke’s Letter Concerning Toleration (1689) is remarkable in wisely limiting the power of “the magistrate … to do or meddle with nothing but barely in order to securing the civil peace and properties of his subjects,” and thus of granting “an absolute … Read more

The Philosophical Basis for Religious Liberty

Religious Liberty has been on our minds a lot lately. The HHS mandate, same-sex marriage initiatives, and recently, the Duck Dynasty controversy with television network A&E, have put the issue squarely before us. In late December, CNA published an article about Camille Paglia, a 1960’s generation “feminist lesbian professor” who is reported to have “harshly … Read more

Do All Religions Deserve Respect?

The Obama administration’s war on Catholics will continue into 2014 as many courageous Catholic institutions in the U.S. maintain their resistance to its encroachment on their religious freedom through the H.H.S. mandate. In light of this, we can expect that the public debate about religious freedom will also continue into the new year both inside … Read more

Benedict XVI and the Pathologies of Religion

It passed almost unnoticed, but last month Benedict XVI significantly upped the ante in an argument he’s made one of his pontificate’s centerpieces. To the horror, one suspects, of some professional interfaith dialoguers and wishful-thinkers more generally, the pope indicated the Church should recognize that some types of religion are in fact “sick and distorted.” … Read more

A Declaration of Catholic Independence

G. K. Chesterton once described America as a “nation with the soul of a church.”  Many have wrongly interpreted this statement as Chesterton’s way of saying that America was a Christian nation, or that Americans were especially pious and devout people. Chesterton meant something rather different, and not especially complementary.  America is like a church … Read more

The Myth of Religious Tolerance

The vehement, sometimes acrimonious debates that accompanied the drafting of the Vatican II declaration on religious freedom, Dignitatis Humanae, yielded an exceptionally precise and carefully worded document. Noteworthy in the 5,700-word declaration is the absence of even a single reference to religious “tolerance” or “toleration.” The choice of religious “freedom” or “liberty” as the proper … Read more

How to ‘Render’ without Surrender

I know that I promised last week to continue my analysis of “Seven Key Aspects of Life Where Jesus Spoils Our Fun.” And I will get back to it — in fact, I’ll do so relentlessly, seven times, until I’ve essentially written the core of my upcoming book on InsideCatholic’s dime. I look forward to … Read more

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