Pope Benedict on the Freedom of Religion and the Proper Relationship of Religion and State

Doing some research for another project, I came across this from the Holy Father’s trip to Turkey in November 2006, in his Address to the Diplomatic Corps in Ankara:

Turkey has always served as a bridge between East and West, between Asia and Europe, and as a crossroads of cultures and religions. During the last century, she acquired the means to become a great modern State, notably by the choice of a secular regime, with a clear distinction between civil society and religion, each of which was to be autonomous in its proper domain while respecting the sphere of the other. The fact that the majority of the population of this country is Muslim is a significant element in the life of society, which the State cannot fail to take into account, yet the Turkish Constitution recognizes every citizen’s right to freedom of worship and freedom of conscience.

The civil authorities of every democratic country are duty bound to guarantee the effective freedom of all believers and to permit them to organize freely the life of their religious communities. Naturally it is my hope that believers, whichever religious community they belong to, will continue to benefit from these rights, since I am certain that religious liberty is a fundamental expression of human liberty and that the active presence of religions in society is a source of progress and enrichment for all.

This assumes, of course, that religions do not seek to exercise direct political power, as that is not their province, and it also assumes that they utterly refuse to sanction recourse to violence as a legitimate expression of religion.”

That seems pretty clear, doesn’t it?

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0 Responses to Pope Benedict on the Freedom of Religion and the Proper Relationship of Religion and State

  1. Past Elder says:

    Just so it doesn’t get missed — anything before the 1960s being rather inconvenient to the post-conciliar church — here, inspired by Reg’s suggestion, are words of the pope re the errors listed:

    Amidst, therefore, such great perversity of depraved opinions, we, well remembering our Apostolic Office, and very greatly solicitous for our most holy Religion, for sound doctrine and the salvation of souls which is entrusted to us by God, and (solicitous also) for the welfare of human society itself, have thought it right again to raise up our Apostolic voice. Therefore, by our Apostolic authority, we reprobate, proscribe, and condemn all the singular and evil opinions and doctrines severally mentioned in this letter, and will and command that they be thoroughly held by all children of the Catholic Church as reprobated, proscribed and condemned.

    Seems pretty clear, doesn’t it?

  2. Schütz says:

    Yes, indeed. But you are comparing one man’s “good morning” with another man’s “good night”.

    Pius IX was hardly expounding a positive (in the sense of stating what should be rather than what should not be) theology of Church-State relations. There are some who think negative statements (ie. anathemas) are the clearest way in which to formulate doctrine, but if all one does is list anathemas of “new ideas”, one leaves open the question not only of the validity of the prevailing ideas but the nature of those ideas in themselves.

    So, what was Pius IX’s positive theology of Religion-State relations? Did he have a formulated understanding of this relationship which would be equally applicable in Turkey as in Italy, in India as in France?

    I don’t think so. Given this, with all due respect to his apostolic voice, we must conclude that his magisterium on the matter – although authoritative and obligatory for all Catholics then under his pontifical oversight – was limited and in need of much more development.

    Sorry to use the ugly “D” word.

  3. Cardinal Pole says:

    In that quotation, as in this more recent quotation from His Holiness:

    “the force of law must never itself become iniquity, nor can the free exercise of religion be limited, because freely to profess one's faith is a fundamental and universally-recognised human right”

    and as in Dignitatis Humanae, the object of this right is not specified.

    "all believers"=> subject
    "their religious communities"=> subject

    And "whichever religious community they belong to", they still enjoy the right to the Catholic Faith, the only just object of the right to religious freedom.

    A right has a subject, terms and an object. Everyone (the subject) has a right to religious freedom. No-one has the right to false worship (the object).

  4. Past Elder says:

    Absolute nonsense (not you, Reg, the other guy).

    There’s an expiration date on this stuff? No. Nor are they negative. They’re direct statements. They are condemned as false. Which also affirms their opposites as true. It’s as clear as clear gets in the formula, and that’s why it is, or was, used.

    It’s an infinite regress of interpretation! The Pope has spoken, thanks be to God for such a Christ-given guide that we are not left to our own ideas like the miserable Protestants! Except, what the hell does it mean? He said it last week, last year, last century? Holy crap, what did it mean then, on top of what does it mean now? The ruddy Oracle of Delphi was better than that! Nobody saw it like this, let alone saw themselves as Catholic seeing it like this, until Newman let loose the hallucinogens now approved for institutional use at Vatican II. Shoes of the fisherman? Now it’s shoes of the historical-critical scholar in a collar!

    Interpretation for the interpreter! (No-body got it the last time, so what the hell, that’s a dance on Wagner in Parsifal, Redemption for the Redeemer. Judas at the drive-thru put me on some Lohengrin that the Grail may appear!)

    Principles do not change. Circumstances do. Principles may admit of different applications in different circumstances, but the principle remains the same. Oh yeah, Reg said that. Well right bloody on, bears repeating. In no case does A stand condemed because Not-A is true, only to find out Not-A was really A all along for jumping Judas’ sake in the sacristy.

  5. Schütz says:

    What I meant, PE, is that there is no positive teaching concerning what the relationship between the Church and State actually should be, against which to test the meaning of the condemnations.

    Concerning whether the interpreter needs to be interpreted – I thought you were a philosopher, old chap. Since language is a means of expressing meaning and not meaning itself (well, that’s one way of expressing it, anyway) then whenever we use it we exercise interpretation. The shape and arrangement of the letters on the page (or screen) have no meaning except for that which we apply to them. The question is, at various levels of complexity, what is that meaning? (And I am working with a framework of assuming that there are some meanings more true than others).

    You may well be right about principles. But there are first and second (and even third) principles. Part of the hermeneutical process of Quanta Cura is determining what Pope Pius IX’s principles were and at what level they were operative? The condemnation of political slogans is not a definition of principle at any level.

    Today, when the Church issues declarations, it often accompanies these with commentary in order to clarify as closely as possible what was meant by the declaration. You will chortle at this, but you have to understand that someone has to keep us theologians in business!

  6. Past Elder says:

    God bless me ten times, and I used to think the Lutherans were so lost that here’s this Apology, then a defence of the Apology, an apology for the apology so to speak, then a bunch of other stuff on this or that point, then fifty years later a formula of concord in long and summary forms of what it all means! Of course that was before being Catholic was like being a lit major, jumping for joy when your favourite author wrote aomething new so you could immediately descend on it with papers, symposia, articles etc and have a ball figuring out what it all means!

    Habemus papam!

  7. Schütz says:

    To which I respond: Deo Gratias!

  8. Past Elder says:

    Yeah, right, well now let’s get busy with the hermeneutical process and figuring out what the meaning is of whatever he says — real important if some of it is infallible and all — so we can have an interpretation of his interpretation.

    Judas at the Sorbonne, is Derrida the next Newman?

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