From Fear of Freedom to Freedom from Fear:Toleration Theology in Dignitatis Humanae (2)

Anthony Towey

Mindful that 2017 is a significant year for ecumenical relationships, in this two-part article, Anthony Towey explains why Vatican II’s Dignitatis Humanae was key to a renewed approach of Catholicism to the views of other Christians and indeed to adherents of all faiths and none. Anthony Towey is the Director of the Aquinas Centre at St Mary’s University, Twickenham.

In the first part of this double article published at the beginning of March, I traced the biblical background to Dignitatis Humanae, the ground breaking document on religious freedom which forms part of the sixteen part ‘canon’ of Vatican II. From scripture, evidence flows in both directions – freedom seems a mixed blessing. Specific covenant belonging is vital, but the argument in favour of controlling anyone, any place or anything by prophetic, political or religious means, is inconclusive. This cross-current is something we will see running through the river of ecclesial history which we will now consider alongside recent papal contributions to the debate. As we shall see, ultimately our Church is seemingly reconciled to a deep conundrum of our human condition. Namely, the right to be right must include the right to be wrong.
Ecclesial perspectives on religious liberty

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