This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Vatican II document Declaration on Religious Liberty (Dignitatis Humanae, Of Human Dignity). These reflections and articles are intended for daily use during the Fortnight for Freedom, and the readings and the questions that follow can be used forgroup discussion or for personal reflection.
The theme of this year's Fortnight will focus on the "freedom to bear witness" to the truth of the Gospel. The Fortnight for Freedom: Freedom to Bear Witness will take place from June 21 to July 4.
- Declaration on Religious Liberty (Dignitatis Humanae), no. 6 December 7, 1965
Reflection for Day Ten
Because all human beings possess equal dignity, value, and worth, the government is to ensure that this equality is maintained both for the good of the individual and for the good of society as a whole. This equality specifically should not be violated on religious grounds. Each religious body and the members of that body have equal rights to religious liberty. This equality demands that there be no discrimination based upon one’s religious beliefs. The Council Fathers now stress that, based upon this equality among its citizens, no government is permitted to impose in any way “the profession or repudiation of any religion.” Such an imposition is a violation of the right to be true to one’s conscience. Because of the freedom of conscience, the government is also not permitted to deny a person the right to join or leave a religious body. The government has no right to stipulate what a person can or cannot believe. If the above is true, then the Council states that it is all the more wrong when “force is brought to bear in any way in order to destroy or repress religion.” This not only applies to governments but also to religious bodies themselves. No religious body is permitted to harass or seek to eliminate another religious group. Within our contemporary world, where is religious equality denied or religious discrimination tolerated? Are there instances where one religion violates the rights of other religions?