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Does the Conciliar church actually teach modernist religious liberty?

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Daniel:
Most traditionalists say that Vatican II and the Conciliar church teach the heretical version of religious liberty: that men have a right to practice false religions.

What I'm wondering is, is this what the Conciliar church actually teaches, or is this a mere straw man? I've seen a small minority  claiming that the Conciliar church teaches no such thing, but teaches "religious liberty" only in the same way that the Church has always taught it: that the state is not allowed to interfere with true religion.

I recall I briefly took a look at the Vatican II documents a while back, and I couldn't make sense of them. At face value they seem to be teaching the former (at least as I interpret them), but I do see (giving them the benefit of the doubt) that they do sound like they might be teaching the latter rather than the former.

Michael Wilson:
Since there is some dispute about what the Conciliar Decree "Dignitatis Humanae" actually teaches; there is always the post Conciliar magisterium that we can appeal to John Paul II in an official statement:
http://www.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/speeches/1980/november/documents/hf_jp_ii_spe_19801114_atto-helsinki.html
MESSAGE OF JOHN PAUL II
ON THE VALUE AND CONTENT OF FREEDOM
OF CONSCIENCE AND OF RELIGION   

Friday, 14 November 1980


--- Quote ---Church's Thinking on the Subject

3. The Catholic Church has synthesized her thinking on this subject in the Second Vatican Council's Declaration, Dignitatis humanae, promulgated on December 7, 1965, a document which places the Apostolic See under a special obligation.

This declaration had been preceded by Pope John XXIII's Encyclical, Pacem in terris, dated April 11, 1963, which solemnly emphasized the fact that everyone has "the right to be able to worship God in accordance with the right dictates of his conscience."

The same declaration of the Second Vatican Council was then taken up again in various documents of Pope Paul VI, in the 1974 Synod of Bishops' message, and more recently in the message to the United Nations Organization during the papal visit on October 2, 1979, which repeats it essentially: "In accordance with their dignity, all human beings, because they are persons, that is, beings endowed with reason and free will and, therefore, bearing a personal responsibility, are both impelled by their nature and bound by a moral obligation to seek the truth, especially religious truth. They are also bound to adhere to the truth once they come to know it and to direct their whole lives in accordance with its demands" (Dignitatis humanae, no. 2). "The practice of religion by its very nature consists primarily of those voluntary and free internal acts by which a human being directly sets his course towards God. No merely human power can either command or prohibit acts of this kind. But man's social nature itself requires that he give external expression to his internal acts of religion, that he communicate with others in religious matters and that he profess his religion in community" (Dignitatis humanae, no. 3).
--- End quote ---
Therefore, man having reason and free will and the obligation to seek religious truth, (true) therefore has the right to practice the religion that he believes is true, in private and in public; alone and with others.(false).

Justin Martyr:
The Church has always taught that no merely human power can coerce in religious matters; only the spiritual power (the Church) can or the temporal power when it is a servant of the spiritual power. This is the same thing Pope Leo XIII taught. The state when not subject to the Church can't coerce anyone in spiritual matters.  This would naturally imply that man ought to have a civil right to freedom from coercion in religious matters, from merely human powers, due to his dignity as a rational creature made in the image of God and his moral obligation to freely accept the gospel. This right would not apply in situations where the State is an agent of the Church or as a limitation to the Church's own coercive powers, as Pius IX and the other preconciliar Popes taught with such wonderous clarity.

It should also be noted that the State has a moral obligation to act in service of the Church and as her agent (which Vatican II affirms). However, given that the state has refused to fulfill this obligation in modern times, the Church had to clarify her teachings on religious liberty as a result of the Church facing a situation she hadn't in over 1600 years: the existence and wide spread propagation of secular, anti-catholic states, along with the absence of confessional Catholic states.

As far as apparent contradictions go, the Letter of Pope Nicholas I to the Bulgarians vs. Ad Extirpanda by Pope Innocent II is more difficult to reconcile than Pre and Post conciliar views on religious liberty, at least for me. Nicholas I essentially calls torture intrinsically immoral. Granted, the teachings on use of torture can be reconciled once one pays careful attention to the text and approaches it with the understanding that the magisterium can't contradict itself, but it's still not overly easy. Surely if one is a sedeplenist one is bound as a Catholic to approach the Post-Conciliar magisterium in this way as well.

Michael Wilson:
J.M. Stated:
--- Quote ---The Church has always taught that no merely human power can coerce in religious matters; only the spiritual power (the Church) can or the temporal power when it is a servant of the spiritual power. This is the same thing Pope Leo XIII taught. The state when not subject to the Church can't coerce anyone in spiritual matters.  This would naturally imply that man ought to have a civil right to freedom from coercion in religious matters, from merely human powers, due to his dignity as a rational creature made in the image of God and his moral obligation to freely accept the gospel. This right would not apply in situations where the State is an agent of the Church or as a limitation to the Church's own coercive powers, as Pius IX and the other preconciliar Popes taught with such wonderous clarity.
--- End quote ---
The Church has always taught that the power of the state comes from God and therefore the power of the state is not "merely a human power".
Vatican II teaches that human beings have the right not only to not be impeded in the private practice of their religion but also in their public practice; Also there is no "right" to practice a false religion either in public or private. which is also against traditional Church teaching as for example Leo XIII in "Libertas".
I might add, the praxis after Vatican II was to force the Catholic states such as Spain, Malta and Colombia to change their constitutions to allow the public practice of false religions, which demonstrates that the Vatican interpreted D.H. Not in the restricted sense that its apologists would have it, as only the right to "freedom from coercion"; but in the broader sense of a "right to practice a false religion" i.e. The famous "Liberty of Conscience" condemned many times before Vatican II.

Justin Martyr:

--- Quote from: Michael Wilson on April 22, 2021, 09:20:35 PM ---J.M. Stated:
--- Quote ---The Church has always taught that no merely human power can coerce in religious matters; only the spiritual power (the Church) can or the temporal power when it is a servant of the spiritual power. This is the same thing Pope Leo XIII taught. The state when not subject to the Church can't coerce anyone in spiritual matters.  This would naturally imply that man ought to have a civil right to freedom from coercion in religious matters, from merely human powers, due to his dignity as a rational creature made in the image of God and his moral obligation to freely accept the gospel. This right would not apply in situations where the State is an agent of the Church or as a limitation to the Church's own coercive powers, as Pius IX and the other preconciliar Popes taught with such wonderous clarity.
--- End quote ---
The Church has always taught that the power of the state comes from God and therefore the power of the state is not "merely a human power".
Vatican II teaches that human beings have the right not only to not be impeded in the private practice of their religion but also in their public practice; Also there is no "right" to practice a false religion either in public or private. which is also against traditional Church teaching as for example Leo XIII in "Libertas".
I might add, the praxis after Vatican II was to force the Catholic states such as Spain, Malta and Colombia to change their constitutions to allow the public practice of false religions, which demonstrates that the Vatican interpreted D.H. Not in the restricted sense that its apologists would have it, as only the right to "freedom from coercion"; but in the broader sense of a "right to practice a false religion" i.e. The famous "Liberty of Conscience" condemned many times before Vatican II.

--- End quote ---

That the State receives its power from God; granted. That this gives the state authority in the spiritual sphere independent of subjection to the Church; denied. Pope Boniface VIII lays out quite clearly in Unam Sanctam what the sphere of the temporal power is and how it ought to be used.

That a right to practice a false religion is condemned; granted. That Vatican II teaches anything more than a right from freedom from coercion, as the preconciliar magisterium often taught in regard to the jews living in Christendom; denied

That the few remaining confessional states ceased to exist after Vatican II as a result of imprudent practice; granted. That the documents of Vatican II itself teaches that such a thing should have occurred, and that the supported interpretation as found in the Relatio for Dignitatis Humanae and later Magisterial clarifications teach that such a thing should have occured; denied.

If it was truly impossible to reconcile, Monsignor Lefebvre and the other traditionalist bishops at Vatican II would have never signed the documents. Though, I know there is some dispute over whether Lefebvre signed it or not, so I digress.

I should also like to ask, given your interpretation on the condemnations of religious liberty in the 19th century, how do the plethora of Magisterial statements exhorting Catholics not to harass the Jews nor to prohibit them from public worship not contradict Pius IX as well? As far as I'm aware, one can't argue that they were given a civil right to be free from religious coercion in order to safeguard the common good. The jews were too small in number to effect the common good much either way. And that was in Confessional States, let alone the situation we find ourselves in today.

I will also concede, of course, that if it can be proven to me clearly and indisputably that Dignitatis Humanae directly contradicts the preconciliar Magisterium, and that as a result an ecumenical council of the Church taught grave and condemned errors, then I would have no choice but to admit that either the Church has defected or sedevacantism is correct. From my own study of the documents and preconciliar teachings on religious liberty, however, the issue appears to be a bit more nuanced than advocates of outright rupture make it seem.

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