Today we begin the final conciliar declaration: the Declaration on Religious Freedom.
Article 1 gives us the interpretive key to the document which we do not want to overlook:
“Religious freedom, in turn, which men demand as necessary to fulfill their duty to worship God, has to do with immunity from coercion in civil society. Therefore it leaves untouched traditional Catholic doctrine on the moral duty of men and societies toward the true religion and toward the one Church of Christ.”
The Council Fathers continue to maintain the Catholic teaching that God is calling all people to faith in Christ. That said, the dignity of the human person dictates that people cannot be coerced into belief in the truths of the faith. History is full of examples –even in our present day — as to how failure to respect this freedom has dire consequences.
Here is the Scripture citation:
And the footnote:
1. Cf. John XXIII, encycl. “Pacem in Terris“, April 11, 1963: AAS 55 (1963) p. 279; ibid., p. 265; Pius XII, radio message, Dec. 24, 1944: AAS 37 (1945), p. 14.