Mid-America friar, Fr. Regis Scanlon, O.F.M.Cap. has a new article in the popular publication Homiletic and Pastoral Review. In the article, Fr. Regis looks at the question of religious liberty in light of the teachings of the Second Vatican Council and examines the question of whether or not Dignitatis Humanae changed previous Church teaching.
In his 1864 document Quanta Cura, Pius IX labeled “erroneous” the opinion that the “liberty of conscience and of worship is the proper right of every man.” But the Second Vatican Council declared in its 1965 document Dignitatis Humanae (Declaration on Religious Freedom) that “in matters religious no one is to be forced to act in a manner contrary to his own beliefs.” So, did Vatican II reverse or contradict the teaching of Pius IX on religious liberty?
Since the close of the Second Vatican Council, many heterodox theologians have claimed that Dignitatis Humanae “reversed” past papal teaching on religious liberty. In 1985, for example, the excommunicated Archbishop Lefebvre claimed that Quanta Cura “condemned” an “assertion” which was later found in the Vatican II document, Dignitatis Humanae. But other “progressive” theologians like Charles Curran and Richard McBrien also saw, and welcomed, an utter reversal of Catholic teaching. So, on this point both the excessively “conservative” and “liberal” meet, but what are the “centrally” orthodox to make of the Church’s current teaching on religious liberty?
The full article is available online at: Homiletic & Pastoral Review