Pope Benedict on Freedom of Religion in Australia

I am currently putting together our office’s “Bulletin”, a sort of Yearly Report of our activities. In connection with this, I reread the Holy Father’s address to representatives of other religions when he was here for World Youth Day. Here is one significant paragraph in the light of our current discussions on this blog:

Australia is renowned for the congeniality of its people towards neighbour and visitor alike. It is a nation that holds freedom of religion in high regard. Your country recognizes that a respect for this fundamental right gives men and women the latitude to worship God according to their conscience, to nurture their spirits, and to act upon the ethical convictions that stem from their beliefs.

And to the ecumenical gathering he said:

Australia is a country marked by much ethnic and religious diversity. Immigrants arrive on the shores of this majestic land hoping to find happiness and opportunities for employment. Yours, too, is a nation which recognizes the importance of religious freedom. This is a fundamental right which, when respected, allows citizens to act upon values which are rooted in their deepest beliefs, contributing thus to the well-being of society. In this way, Christians cooperate, together with members of other religions, for the promotion of human dignity and for fellowship among all nations.

It sounds as if he approves of this situation – so how does it relate to the passage from the catechism quoted by Josh in this combox:

2105 The duty of offering God genuine worship concerns man both individually and socially. This is “the traditional Catholic teaching on the moral duty of individuals and societies toward the true religion and the one Church of Christ.” By constantly evangelizing men, the Church works toward enabling them “to infuse the Christian spirit into the mentality and mores, laws and structures of the communities in which [they] live.” The social duty of Christians is to respect and awaken in each man the love of the true and the good. It requires them to make known the worship of the one true religion which subsists in the Catholic and apostolic Church. Christians are called to be the light of the world. Thus, the Church shows forth the kingship of Christ over all creation and in particular over human societies.

It is notable that this passage speaks of the “social duty of Christians” and not the “Christian duty of Society”. It is by our witness to “the true and the good” that love for the true and the good is encouraged in Society. The social duty of man toward God can only be fulfilled by the evangelising mission of the Church by constantly proposing the one true faith to Society. We have no right to look to the State to do this job for us by act of imposition.

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10 responses to “Pope Benedict on Freedom of Religion in Australia

  1. matthias

    Which means that we as Christians act confessionally within a secular society rather than impose a confessional polity upon that Society.We live in a post Christian society hence we have to show and live the faith,and not legislate it as dominionists-protestant or catholic-would want

  2. Anonymous

    Or in other words we have to convince, not force, society to be Catholic.

  3. Schütz

    Which is to say, we propose; we do not impose.

  4. Cardinal Pole

    “The social duty of man toward God can only be fulfilled by the evangelising mission of the Church …”

    False. A not-yet-evangelised society can come to knowledge of many of God’s attributes by the light of natural reason and render Him some (natural) worship.

    And in any case, the Church is entitled to the assistance of the State.

  5. Joshua

    Note I never argued for imposition – rather, if by some miracle of grace all Australia were converted to the Catholic Faith, the citizenry to a man would want laws and customs to reflect such a happy state of affairs, not by imposing belief – which is impossible – but by recognizing belief, so that the imagined situation of the multitudes all at Mass would have consequences.

  6. Louise

    Who is arguing that the State turn all its citizens into Catholics?

  7. Schütz

    His Eminence opined: “False. A not-yet-evangelised society can come to knowledge of many of God’s attributes by the light of natural reason and render Him some (natural) worship.”

    Well… You mean like in a Sharia State? After all, that would be a “not-yet-evangelised society” which has “come to knowledge of many of God’s attributes by the light of natural reason” and which renders him “some (natural) worship”? Nicht wahr?

  8. Cardinal Pole

    “Well… You mean like in a Sharia State?”

    No. Muslims deny some of God’s attributes and therefore do not render Him any worship, natural or supernatural. Furthermore, it denies these attributes not by natural reason but by a false supernatural revelation.

  9. Anonymous

    Doesn’t this raise the question: where/who is the Catholic Politic Party?

  10. Louise

    Vote [1] DLP!