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DECLARATIONONRELIGIOUSFREEDOM
DIGNITATISHUMANAE
ONTHERIGHTOFTHEPERSONANDOFCOMMUNITIES
TOSOCIALANDCIVILFREEDOMINMATTERSRELIGIOUS
PROMULGATEDBYHISHOLINESS
POPEPAULVI
ONDECEMBER7,1965

1.Asenseofthedignityofthehumanpersonhasbeenimpressingitselfmoreandmoredeeplyontheconsciousnessof
contemporaryman,(1)andthedemandisincreasinglymadethatmenshouldactontheirownjudgment,enjoyingandmakinguseof
aresponsiblefreedom,notdrivenbycoercionbutmotivatedbyasenseofduty.Thedemandislikewisemadethatconstitutional
limitsshouldbesettothepowersofgovernment,inorderthattheremaybenoencroachmentontherightfulfreedomoftheperson
andofassociations.Thisdemandforfreedominhumansocietychieflyregardsthequestforthevaluespropertothehumanspirit.
Itregards,inthefirstplace,thefreeexerciseofreligioninsociety.ThisVaticanCounciltakescarefulnoteofthesedesiresinthe
mindsofmen.Itproposestodeclarethemtobegreatlyinaccordwithtruthandjustice.Tothisend,itsearchesintothesacred
traditionanddoctrineoftheChurchthetreasuryoutofwhichtheChurchcontinuallybringsforthnewthingsthatareinharmony
withthethingsthatareold.

First,thecouncilprofessesitsbeliefthatGodHimselfhasmadeknowntomankindthewayinwhichmenaretoserveHim,andthus
besavedinChristandcometoblessedness.WebelievethatthisonetruereligionsubsistsintheCatholicandApostolicChurch,to
whichtheLordJesuscommittedthedutyofspreadingitabroadamongallmen.ThusHespoketotheApostles:"Go,therefore,and
makedisciplesofallnations,baptizingtheminthenameoftheFatherandoftheSonandoftheHolySpirit,teachingthemto
observeallthingswhatsoeverIhaveenjoineduponyou"(Matt.28:1920).Ontheirpart,allmenareboundtoseekthetruth,
especiallyinwhatconcernsGodandHisChurch,andtoembracethetruththeycometoknow,andtoholdfasttoit.

ThisVaticanCouncillikewiseprofessesitsbeliefthatitisuponthehumanconsciencethattheseobligationsfallandexerttheir
bindingforce.Thetruthcannotimposeitselfexceptbyvirtueofitsowntruth,asitmakesitsentranceintothemindatoncequietly
andwithpower.

Religiousfreedom,inturn,whichmendemandasnecessarytofulfilltheirdutytoworshipGod,hastodowithimmunityfrom
coercionincivilsociety.ThereforeitleavesuntouchedtraditionalCatholicdoctrineonthemoraldutyofmenandsocietiestoward
thetruereligionandtowardtheoneChurchofChrist.

Overandaboveallthis,thecouncilintendstodevelopthedoctrineofrecentpopesontheinviolablerightsofthehumanpersonand
theconstitutionalorderofsociety.

2.ThisVaticanCouncildeclaresthatthehumanpersonhasarighttoreligiousfreedom.Thisfreedommeansthatallmenaretobe
immunefromcoerciononthepartofindividualsorofsocialgroupsandofanyhumanpower,insuchwisethatnooneistobe
forcedtoactinamannercontrarytohisownbeliefs,whetherprivatelyorpublicly,whetheraloneorinassociationwithothers,
withinduelimits.

Thecouncilfurtherdeclaresthattherighttoreligiousfreedomhasitsfoundationintheverydignityofthehumanpersonasthis
dignityisknownthroughtherevealedwordofGodandbyreasonitself.(2)Thisrightofthehumanpersontoreligiousfreedomisto
berecognizedintheconstitutionallawwherebysocietyisgovernedandthusitistobecomeacivilright.

Itisinaccordancewiththeirdignityaspersonsthatis,beingsendowedwithreasonandfreewillandthereforeprivilegedtobear
personalresponsibilitythatallmenshouldbeatonceimpelledbynatureandalsoboundbyamoralobligationtoseekthetruth,
especiallyreligioustruth.Theyarealsoboundtoadheretothetruth,onceitisknown,andtoordertheirwholelivesinaccordwith
thedemandsoftruth.However,mencannotdischargetheseobligationsinamannerinkeepingwiththeirownnatureunlessthey
enjoyimmunityfromexternalcoercionaswellaspsychologicalfreedom.Thereforetherighttoreligiousfreedomhasitsfoundation
notinthesubjectivedispositionoftheperson,butinhisverynature.Inconsequence,therighttothisimmunitycontinuestoexist
eveninthosewhodonotliveuptotheirobligationofseekingthetruthandadheringtoitandtheexerciseofthisrightisnottobe
impeded,providedthatjustpublicorderbeobserved.

3.Furtherlightisshedonthesubjectifoneconsidersthatthehighestnormofhumanlifeisthedivinelaweternal,objectiveand
universalwherebyGodorders,directsandgovernstheentireuniverseandallthewaysofthehumancommunitybyaplanconceived
inwisdomandlove.ManhasbeenmadebyGodtoparticipateinthislaw,withtheresultthat,underthegentledispositionofdivine
Providence,hecancometoperceiveevermorefullythetruththatisunchanging.Whereforeeverymanhastheduty,andtherefore
theright,toseekthetruthinmattersreligiousinorderthathemaywithprudenceformforhimselfrightandtruejudgmentsof
conscience,underuseofallsuitablemeans.

Truth,however,istobesoughtafterinamannerpropertothedignityofthehumanpersonandhissocialnature.Theinquiryisto
befree,carriedonwiththeaidofteachingorinstruction,communicationanddialogue,inthecourseofwhichmenexplaintoone
anotherthetruththeyhavediscovered,orthinktheyhavediscovered,inorderthustoassistoneanotherinthequestfortruth.

Moreover,asthetruthisdiscovered,itisbyapersonalassentthatmenaretoadheretoit.

Onhispart,manperceivesandacknowledgestheimperativesofthedivinelawthroughthemediationofconscience.Inallhis
activityamanisboundtofollowhisconscienceinorderthathemaycometoGod,theendandpurposeoflife.Itfollowsthatheis
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nottobeforcedtoactinamannercontrarytohisconscience.Nor,ontheotherhand,ishetoberestrainedfromactingin
accordancewithhisconscience,especiallyinmattersreligious.Thereasonisthattheexerciseofreligion,ofitsverynature,consists
beforeallelseinthoseinternal,voluntaryandfreeactswherebymansetsthecourseofhislifedirectlytowardGod.Nomerely
humanpowercaneithercommandorprohibitactsofthiskind.(3)Thesocialnatureofman,however,itselfrequiresthatheshould
giveexternalexpressiontohisinternalactsofreligion:thatheshouldsharewithothersinmattersreligiousthatheshouldprofess
hisreligionincommunity.InjurythereforeisdonetothehumanpersonandtotheveryorderestablishedbyGodforhumanlife,if
thefreeexerciseofreligionisdeniedinsociety,providedjustpublicorderisobserved.

Thereisafurtherconsideration.Thereligiousactswherebymen,inprivateandinpublicandoutofasenseofpersonalconviction,
directtheirlivestoGodtranscendbytheirverynaturetheorderofterrestrialandtemporalaffairs.Governmentthereforeought
indeedtotakeaccountofthereligiouslifeofthecitizenryandshowitfavor,sincethefunctionofgovernmentistomakeprovision
forthecommonwelfare.However,itwouldclearlytransgressthelimitssettoitspower,wereittopresumetocommandorinhibit
actsthatarereligious.

4.Thefreedomorimmunityfromcoercioninmattersreligiouswhichistheendowmentofpersonsasindividualsisalsotobe
recognizedastheirrightwhentheyactincommunity.Religiouscommunitiesarearequirementofthesocialnaturebothofmanand
ofreligionitself.

Providedthejustdemandsofpublicorderareobserved,religiouscommunitiesrightfullyclaimfreedominorderthattheymaygovern
themselvesaccordingtotheirownnorms,honortheSupremeBeinginpublicworship,assisttheirmembersinthepracticeofthe
religiouslife,strengthenthembyinstruction,andpromoteinstitutionsinwhichtheymayjointogetherforthepurposeofordering
theirownlivesinaccordancewiththeirreligiousprinciples.

Religiouscommunitiesalsohavetherightnottobehindered,eitherbylegalmeasuresorbyadministrativeactiononthepartof
government,intheselection,training,appointment,andtransferraloftheirownministers,incommunicatingwithreligiousauthorities
andcommunitiesabroad,inerectingbuildingsforreligiouspurposes,andintheacquisitionanduseofsuitablefundsorproperties.

Religiouscommunitiesalsohavetherightnottobehinderedintheirpublicteachingandwitnesstotheirfaith,whetherbythe
spokenorbythewrittenword.However,inspreadingreligiousfaithandinintroducingreligiouspracticeseveryoneoughtatalltimes
torefrainfromanymannerofactionwhichmightseemtocarryahintofcoercionorofakindofpersuasionthatwouldbe
dishonorableorunworthy,especiallywhendealingwithpoororuneducatedpeople.Suchamannerofactionwouldhavetobe
consideredanabuseofone'srightandaviolationoftherightofothers.

Inaddition,itcomeswithinthemeaningofreligiousfreedomthatreligiouscommunitiesshouldnotbeprohibitedfromfreely
undertakingtoshowthespecialvalueoftheirdoctrineinwhatconcernstheorganizationofsocietyandtheinspirationofthewhole
ofhumanactivity.Finally,thesocialnatureofmanandtheverynatureofreligionaffordthefoundationoftherightofmenfreelyto
holdmeetingsandtoestablisheducational,cultural,charitableandsocialorganizations,undertheimpulseoftheirownreligious
sense.

5.Thefamily,sinceitisasocietyinitsownoriginalright,hastherightfreelytoliveitsowndomesticreligiouslifeunderthe
guidanceofparents.Parents,moreover,havetherighttodetermine,inaccordancewiththeirownreligiousbeliefs,thekindof
religiouseducationthattheirchildrenaretoreceive.Government,inconsequence,mustacknowledgetherightofparentstomakea
genuinelyfreechoiceofschoolsandofothermeansofeducation,andtheuseofthisfreedomofchoiceisnottobemadeareason
forimposingunjustburdensonparents,whetherdirectlyorindirectly.Besides,therightofparentsareviolated,iftheirchildrenare
forcedtoattendlessonsorinstructionswhicharenotinagreementwiththeirreligiousbeliefs,orifasinglesystemofeducation,
fromwhichallreligiousformationisexcluded,isimposeduponall.

6.Sincethecommonwelfareofsocietyconsistsintheentiretyofthoseconditionsofsociallifeunderwhichmenenjoythe
possibilityofachievingtheirownperfectioninacertainfullnessofmeasureandalsowithsomerelativeease,itchieflyconsistsin
theprotectionoftherights,andintheperformanceoftheduties,ofthehumanperson.(4)Thereforethecareoftherightto
religiousfreedomdevolvesuponthewholecitizenry,uponsocialgroups,upongovernment,andupontheChurchandotherreligious
communities,invirtueofthedutyofalltowardthecommonwelfare,andinthemannerpropertoeach.

Theprotectionandpromotionoftheinviolablerightsofmanranksamongtheessentialdutiesofgovernment.(5)Therefore
governmentistoassumethesafeguardofthereligiousfreedomofallitscitizens,inaneffectivemanner,byjustlawsandbyother
appropriatemeans.

Governmentisalsotohelpcreateconditionsfavorabletothefosteringofreligiouslife,inorderthatthepeoplemaybetrulyenabled
toexercisetheirreligiousrightsandtofulfilltheirreligiousduties,andalsoinorderthatsocietyitselfmayprofitbythemoral
qualitiesofjusticeandpeacewhichhavetheirorigininmen'sfaithfulnesstoGodandtoHisholywill.(6)

If,inviewofpeculiarcircumstancesobtainingamongpeoples,specialcivilrecognitionisgiventoonereligiouscommunityinthe
constitutionalorderofsociety,itisatthesametimeimperativethattherightofallcitizensandreligiouscommunitiestoreligious
freedomshouldberecognizedandmadeeffectiveinpractice.

Finally,governmentistoseetoitthatequalityofcitizensbeforethelaw,whichisitselfanelementofthecommongood,isnever
violated,whetheropenlyorcovertly,forreligiousreasons.Noristheretobediscriminationamongcitizens.

Itfollowsthatawrongisdonewhengovernmentimposesuponitspeople,byforceorfearorothermeans,theprofessionor
repudiationofanyreligion,orwhenithindersmenfromjoiningorleavingareligiouscommunity.Allthemoreisitaviolationofthe
willofGodandofthesacredrightsofthepersonandthefamilyofnationswhenforceisbroughttobearinanywayinorderto
destroyorrepressreligion,eitherinthewholeofmankindorinaparticularcountryorinadefinitecommunity.

7.Therighttoreligiousfreedomisexercisedinhumansociety:henceitsexerciseissubjecttocertainregulatorynorms.Intheuse
ofallfreedomsthemoralprincipleofpersonalandsocialresponsibilityistobeobserved.Intheexerciseoftheirrights,individual
menandsocialgroupsareboundbythemorallawtohaverespectbothfortherightsofothersandfortheirowndutiestoward
othersandforthecommonwelfareofall.Menaretodealwiththeirfellowsinjusticeandcivility.

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Furthermore,societyhastherighttodefenditselfagainstpossibleabusescommittedonthepretextoffreedomofreligion.Itisthe
specialdutyofgovernmenttoprovidethisprotection.However,governmentisnottoactinanarbitraryfashionorinanunfairspirit
ofpartisanship.Itsactionistobecontrolledbyjuridicalnormswhichareinconformitywiththeobjectivemoralorder.Thesenorms
ariseoutoftheneedfortheeffectivesafeguardoftherightsofallcitizensandforthepeacefulsettlementofconflictsofrights,
alsooutoftheneedforanadequatecareofgenuinepublicpeace,whichcomesaboutwhenmenlivetogetheringoodorderandin
truejustice,andfinallyoutoftheneedforaproperguardianshipofpublicmorality.

Thesemattersconstitutethebasiccomponentofthecommonwelfare:theyarewhatismeantbypublicorder.Fortherest,the
usagesofsocietyaretobetheusagesoffreedomintheirfullrange:thatis,thefreedomofmanistoberespectedasfaras
possibleandisnottobecurtailedexceptwhenandinsofarasnecessary.

8.Manypressuresarebroughttobearuponthemenofourday,tothepointwherethedangerariseslesttheylosethepossibilityof
actingontheirownjudgment.Ontheotherhand,notafewcanbefoundwhoseeminclinedtousethenameoffreedomasthe
pretextforrefusingtosubmittoauthorityandformakinglightofthedutyofobedience.WhereforethisVaticanCouncilurges
everyone,especiallythosewhoarechargedwiththetaskofeducatingothers,todotheirutmosttoformmenwho,ontheone
hand,willrespectthemoralorderandbeobedienttolawfulauthority,andontheotherhand,willbeloversoftruefreedommen,in
otherwords,whowillcometodecisionsontheirownjudgmentandinthelightoftruth,governtheiractivitieswithasenseof
responsibility,andstriveafterwhatistrueandright,willingalwaystojoinwithothersincooperativeeffort.

Religiousfreedomthereforeoughttohavethisfurtherpurposeandaim,namely,thatmenmaycometoactwithgreater
responsibilityinfulfillingtheirdutiesincommunitylife.

9.ThedeclarationofthisVaticanCouncilontherightofmantoreligiousfreedomhasitsfoundationinthedignityoftheperson,
whoseexigencieshavecometobearefullyknowntohumanreasonthroughcenturiesofexperience.Whatismore,thisdoctrineof
freedomhasrootsindivinerevelation,andforthisreasonChristiansareboundtorespectitallthemoreconscientiously.Revelation
doesnotindeedaffirminsomanywordstherightofmantoimmunityfromexternalcoercioninmattersreligious.Itdoes,however,
disclosethedignityofthehumanpersoninitsfulldimensions.ItgivesevidenceoftherespectwhichChristshowedtowardthe
freedomwithwhichmanistofulfillhisdutyofbeliefinthewordofGodanditgivesuslessonsinthespiritwhichdisciplesofsucha
Masteroughttoadoptandcontinuallyfollow.Thusfurtherlightiscastuponthegeneralprinciplesuponwhichthedoctrineofthis
declarationonreligiousfreedomisbased.Inparticular,religiousfreedominsocietyisentirelyconsonantwiththefreedomoftheact
ofChristianfaith.

10.ItisoneofthemajortenetsofCatholicdoctrinethatman'sresponsetoGodinfaithmustbefree:noonethereforeistobe
forcedtoembracetheChristianfaithagainsthisownwill.(8)ThisdoctrineiscontainedinthewordofGodanditwasconstantly
proclaimedbytheFathersoftheChurch.(7)Theactoffaithisofitsverynatureafreeact.Man,redeemedbyChristtheSaviorand
throughChristJesuscalledtobeGod'sadoptedson,(9)cannotgivehisadherencetoGodrevealingHimselfunless,underthe
drawingoftheFather,(10)heofferstoGodthereasonableandfreesubmissionoffaith.Itisthereforecompletelyinaccordwiththe
natureoffaiththatinmattersreligiouseverymannerofcoerciononthepartofmenshouldbeexcluded.Inconsequence,the
principleofreligiousfreedommakesnosmallcontributiontothecreationofanenvironmentinwhichmencanwithouthindrancebe
invitedtotheChristianfaith,embraceitoftheirownfreewill,andprofessiteffectivelyintheirwholemanneroflife.

11.GodcallsmentoserveHiminspiritandintruth,hencetheyareboundinconsciencebuttheystandundernocompulsion.God
hasregardforthedignityofthehumanpersonwhomHeHimselfcreatedandmanistobeguidedbyhisownjudgmentandheisto
enjoyfreedom.ThistruthappearsatitsheightinChristJesus,inwhomGodmanifestedHimselfandHiswayswithmen.Christisat
onceourMasterandourLord(11)andalsomeekandhumbleofheart.(12)InattractingandinvitingHisdisciplesHeusedpatience.
(13)HewroughtmiraclestoilluminateHisteachingandtoestablishitstruth,butHisintentionwastorousefaithinHishearersand
toconfirmtheminfaith,nottoexertcoercionuponthem.(14)HedidindeeddenouncetheunbeliefofsomewholistenedtoHim,
butHeleftvengeancetoGodinexpectationofthedayofjudgment.(15)WhenHesentHisApostlesintotheworld,Hesaidto
them:"Hewhobelievesandisbaptizedwillbesaved.Hewhodoesnotbelievewillbecondemned"(Mark16:16).ButHeHimself,
notingthatthecocklehadbeensownamidthewheat,gaveordersthatbothshouldbeallowedtogrowuntiltheharvesttime,which
willcomeattheendoftheworld.(16)Herefusedtobeapoliticalmessiah,rulingbyforce:(17)HepreferredtocallHimselftheSon
ofMan,whocame"toserveandtogivehislifeasaransomforthemany"(Mark10:45).HeshowedHimselftheperfectservantof
God,(18)who"doesnotbreakthebruisedreednorextinguishthesmokingflax"(Matt.12:20).

Heacknowledgedthepowerofgovernmentanditsrights,whenHecommandedthattributebegiventoCaesar:butHegaveclear
warningthatthehigherrightsofGodaretobekeptinviolate:"RendertoCaesarthethingsthatareCaesar'sandtoGodthethings
thatareGod's"(Matt.22:21).Intheend,whenHecompletedonthecrosstheworkofredemptionwherebyHeachievedsalvation
andtruefreedomformen,HebroughtHisrevelationtocompletion.ForHeborewitnesstothetruth,(19)butHerefusedtoimpose
thetruthbyforceonthosewhospokeagainstit.NotbyforceofblowsdoesHisruleassertitsclaims.(20)Itisestablishedby
witnessingtothetruthandbyhearingthetruth,anditextendsitsdominionbythelovewherebyChrist,lifteduponthecross,draws
allmentoHimself.(21)

TaughtbythewordandexampleofChrist,theApostlesfollowedthesameway.FromtheveryoriginsoftheChurchthedisciplesof
ChriststrovetoconvertmentofaithinChristastheLordnot,however,bytheuseofcoercionorofdevicesunworthyofthe
Gospel,butbythepower,aboveall,ofthewordofGod.(22)SteadfastlytheyproclaimedtoalltheplanofGodourSavior,"whowills
thatallmenshouldbesavedandcometotheacknowledgmentofthetruth"(1Tim.2:4).Atthesametime,however,theyshowed
respectforthoseofweakerstuff,eventhoughtheywereinerror,andthustheymadeitplainthat"eachoneofusistorenderto
Godanaccountofhimself"(Romans14:12),(23)andforthatreasonisboundtoobeyhisconscience.LikeChristHimself,the
ApostleswereunceasinglybentuponbearingwitnesstothetruthofGod,andtheyshowedthefullestmeasureofboldnessin
"speakingthewordwithconfidence"(Acts4:31)(24)beforethepeopleandtheirrulers.WithafirmfaiththeyheldthattheGospel
isindeedthepowerofGoduntosalvationforallwhobelieve.(25)Thereforetheyrejectedall"carnalweapons:(26)theyfollowed
theexampleofthegentlenessandrespectfulnessofChristandtheypreachedthewordofGodinthefullconfidencethattherewas
residentinthisworditselfadivinepowerabletodestroyalltheforcesarrayedagainstGod(27)andbringmentofaithinChristand
toHisservice.(28)AstheMaster,sotootheApostlesrecognizedlegitimatecivilauthority."ForthereisnopowerexceptfromGod",
theApostleteaches,andthereaftercommands:"Leteveryonebesubjecttohigherauthorities....Hewhoresistsauthorityresists
God'sordinance"(Romans13:15).(29)Atthesametime,however,theydidnothesitatetospeakoutagainstgoverningpowers

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whichsetthemselvesinoppositiontotheholywillofGod:"ItisnecessarytoobeyGodratherthanmen"(Acts5:29).(30)Thisis
thewayalongwhichthemartyrsandotherfaithfulhavewalkedthroughallagesandoveralltheearth.

12.InfaithfulnessthereforetothetruthoftheGospel,theChurchisfollowingthewayofChristandtheapostleswhenshe
recognizesandgivessupporttotheprincipleofreligiousfreedomasbefittingthedignityofmanandasbeinginaccordwithdivine
revelation.ThroughouttheagestheChurchhaskeptsafeandhandedonthedoctrinereceivedfromtheMasterandfromthe
apostles.InthelifeofthePeopleofGod,asithasmadeitspilgrimwaythroughthevicissitudesofhumanhistory,therehasat
timesappearedawayofactingthatwashardlyinaccordwiththespiritoftheGospelorevenopposedtoit.Nevertheless,the
doctrineoftheChurchthatnooneistobecoercedintofaithhasalwaysstoodfirm.

ThustheleavenoftheGospelhaslongbeenaboutitsquietworkinthemindsofmen,andtoitisdueingreatmeasurethefact
thatinthecourseoftimemenhavecomemorewidelytorecognizetheirdignityaspersons,andtheconvictionhasgrownstronger
thatthepersoninsocietyistobekeptfreefromallmannerofcoercioninmattersreligious.

13.AmongthethingsthatconcernthegoodoftheChurchandindeedthewelfareofsocietyhereonearththingsthereforethatare
alwaysandeverywheretobekeptsecureanddefendedagainstallinjurythiscertainlyispreeminent,namely,thattheChurchshould
enjoythatfullmeasureoffreedomwhichhercareforthesalvationofmenrequires.(31)Thisisasacredfreedom,becausetheonly
begottenSonendowedwithittheChurchwhichHepurchasedwithHisblood.IndeeditissomuchthepropertyoftheChurchthat
toactagainstitistoactagainstthewillofGod.ThefreedomoftheChurchisthefundamentalprincipleinwhatconcernsthe
relationsbetweentheChurchandgovernmentsandthewholecivilorder.

InhumansocietyandinthefaceofgovernmenttheChurchclaimsfreedomforherselfinhercharacterasaspiritualauthority,
establishedbyChristtheLord,uponwhichthererests,bydivinemandate,thedutyofgoingoutintothewholeworldandpreaching
theGospeltoeverycreature.(32)TheChurchalsoclaimsfreedomforherselfinhercharacterasasocietyofmenwhohavethe
righttoliveinsocietyinaccordancewiththepreceptsoftheChristianfaith.(33)

Inturn,wheretheprincipleofreligiousfreedomisnotonlyproclaimedinwordsorsimplyincorporatedinlawbutalsogivensincere
andpracticalapplication,theretheChurchsucceedsinachievingastablesituationofrightaswellasoffactandtheindependence
whichisnecessaryforthefulfillmentofherdivinemission.

ThisindependenceispreciselywhattheauthoritiesoftheChurchclaiminsociety.(34)Atthesametime,theChristianfaithful,in
commonwithallothermen,possessthecivilrightnottobehinderedinleadingtheirlivesinaccordancewiththeirconsciences.
Therefore,aharmonyexistsbetweenthefreedomoftheChurchandthereligiousfreedomwhichistoberecognizedastherightof
allmenandcommunitiesandsanctionedbyconstitutionallaw.

14.Inordertobefaithfultothedivinecommand,"teachallnations"(Matt.28:1920),theCatholicChurchmustworkwithall
urgencyandconcern"thatthewordofGodbespreadabroadandglorified"(2Thess.3:1).HencetheChurchearnestlybegsofits
childrenthat,"firstofall,supplications,prayers,petitions,actsofthanksgivingbemadeforallmen....Forthisisgoodandagreeable
inthesightofGodourSavior,whowillsthatallmenbesavedandcometotheknowledgeofthetruth"(1Tim.2:14).Inthe
formationoftheirconsciences,theChristianfaithfuloughtcarefullytoattendtothesacredandcertaindoctrineoftheChurch.(35)
FortheChurchis,bythewillofChrist,theteacherofthetruth.Itisherdutytogiveutteranceto,andauthoritativelytoteach,that
truthwhichisChristHimself,andalsotodeclareandconfirmbyherauthoritythoseprinciplesofthemoralorderwhichhavetheir
originsinhumannatureitself.Furthermore,letChristianswalkinwisdominthefaceofthoseoutside,"intheHolySpirit,in
unaffectedlove,inthewordoftruth"(2Cor.6:67),andletthembeabouttheirtaskofspreadingthelightoflifewithall
confidence(36)andapostoliccourage,eventothesheddingoftheirblood.

ThediscipleisboundbyagraveobligationtowardChrist,hisMaster,evermorefullytounderstandthetruthreceivedfromHim,
faithfullytoproclaimit,andvigorouslytodefendit,neverbeitunderstoodhavingrecoursetomeansthatareincompatiblewiththe
spiritoftheGospel.Atthesametime,thecharityofChristurgeshimtoloveandhaveprudenceandpatienceinhisdealingswith
thosewhoareinerrororinignorancewithregardtothefaith.(37)AllistobetakenintoaccounttheChristiandutytoChrist,the
lifegivingwordwhichmustbeproclaimed,therightsofthehumanperson,andthemeasureofgracegrantedbyGodthroughChrist
tomenwhoareinvitedfreelytoacceptandprofessthefaith.

15.Thefactisthatmenofthepresentdaywanttobeablefreelytoprofesstheirreligioninprivateandinpublic.Indeed,religious
freedomhasalreadybeendeclaredtobeacivilrightinmostconstitutions,anditissolemnlyrecognizedininternationaldocuments.
(38)Thefurtherfactisthatformsofgovernmentstillexistunderwhich,eventhoughfreedomofreligiousworshipreceives
constitutionalrecognition,thepowersofgovernmentareengagedintheefforttodetercitizensfromtheprofessionofreligionand
tomakelifeverydifficultanddangerousforreligiouscommunities.

Thiscouncilgreetswithjoythefirstofthesetwofactsasamongthesignsofthetimes.Withsorrow,however,itdenouncesthe
otherfact,asonlytobedeplored.ThecouncilexhortsCatholics,anditdirectsapleatoallmen,mostcarefullytoconsiderhow
greatlynecessaryreligiousfreedomis,especiallyinthepresentconditionofthehumanfamily.Allnationsarecomingintoeven
closerunity.Menofdifferentculturesandreligionsarebeingbroughttogetherincloserrelationships.Thereisagrowing
consciousnessofthepersonalresponsibilitythateverymanhas.Allthisisevident.Consequently,inorderthatrelationshipsofpeace
andharmonybeestablishedandmaintainedwithinthewholeofmankind,itisnecessarythatreligiousfreedombeeverywhere
providedwithaneffectiveconstitutionalguaranteeandthatrespectbeshownforthehighdutyandrightofmanfreelytoleadhis
religiouslifeinsociety.

MaytheGodandFatherofallgrantthatthehumanfamily,throughcarefulobservanceoftheprincipleofreligiousfreedomin
society,maybebroughtbythegraceofChristandthepoweroftheHolySpirittothesublimeandunendingand"gloriousfreedom
ofthesonsofGod"(Rom.8:21).

NOTES

1.Cf.JohnXXIII,encycl." PaceminTerris",April11,1963:AAS55(1963)p.279ibid.,p.265PiusXII,radiomessage,Dec.24,
1944:AAS37(1945),p.14.

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2.Cf.JohnXXIII,encycL" PaceminTerris
",April11,1963:AAS55(1963),pp.260261PiusXII,radiomessage,Dec.24,1942:AAS
35(1943),p.19PiusXI,encycl." MitBrennenderSorge",March14,1937:AAS29(1937),p.160LeoXIII,encycl." Libertas
Praestantissimum ",June20,1888:ActsofLeoXIII8(1888),p.237238.

3.Cf.JohnXXIII,encycl." PaceminTerris",April11,1963:AAS55(1963),p.270PaulVI,radiomessage,Dec.22,1964:AAS57
(1965),pp.181182.

4.Cf.JohnXXIII,encycl." MateretMagistra",May15,1961:AAS53(1961),p.417idem,encycl."PaceminTerris",April11,1963:
AAS55(1963),p.273.

5.Cf.JohnXXIII,encycl." PaceminTerris",April11,1963:AAS55(1963),pp.273274PiusXII,radiomessage,June11941:AAS
33(1941),p.200.

6.Cf.LeoXIII,encycl."ImmortaleDei",Nov.1,1885:AAS18(1885)p.161.
7.Cf.Lactantius"DivinarumInstitutionum",BookV,19:CSEL19,pp.463464,465:PL6,614and616(ch.20)St.Ambrose,
"EpistolaadValentianumImp.",Letter21:PL16,1005St.Augustine,"ContraLitterasPetiliani",BookII,ch.83:CSEL52p.112:PL
43,315cf.C.23,q.5,c.33,(ed.Friedberg,col.939)idem,Letter23:PL33,98,idem,Letter34:PL33,132idem,Letter35:PL
33,135St.GregorytheGreat,"EpistolaadVirgiliumetTheodorumEpiscoposMassiliaeGalliarum,RegisterofLettersI,45:MGHEp.
1,p.72:PL77,510511(BookI,ep.47)idem,"EpistolaadJohannemEpiscopumConstantinopolitanum",RegisterofLetters,III,
52:MGHLetter1,p.210:PL77,649(BookIII,Letter53)cf.D.45,c.1(ed.Friedberg,col160)CouncilofToledoIV,c.57:Mansi
10,633cf.D.45,c.5(ed.Friedberg,col.161162)ClementIII:X.,V,6,9:ed.Friedberg,col.774InnocentIII,"Epistolaad
ArelatensemArchiepiscopum",X.,III,42,3:Friedberg,col.646.
8.Cf.CIC,c.1351PiusXII,allocutiontoprelateauditorsandotherofficialsandadministratorsofthetribuneoftheHolyRoman
Rota,Oct.6,1946:AAS38(1946),p.394idem.EncyclMysticiCorporis",June29,1943:AAS(1943)p.243.
9.Cf.Eph.1:5.

10.Cf.John6:44.

11.Cf.John13:13.

12.Cf.Matt.11:29.

13.Cf.Matt.11:2830John6:6768.

14.Cf.Matt.9:2829Mark9:23246:56PaulVI,encycl."EcclesiamSuam",Aug.6,1964:AAS56(1964),pp.642643.

15.Cf.Matt.11:2024Rom.12:19202Thess .1:8.

16.Cf.Matt.13:30and4042.

17.Cf.Matt.4:810John6:15.

18.Cf.Is .42:14.

19.Cf.John18:37.

20.Cf.Matt.26:5153John18:36.

21.Cf.John12:32.

22.Cf.1Cor.2:351Thess .2:35.

23.Cf.Rom.14:1231Cor.8:91310:2333.

24.Cf.Eph.6:1920.

25.Cf.Rom.1:16.

26.Cf.2Cor.10:41Thess .5:89.

27.Cf.Eph.6:1117.

28.Cf.2Cor.10:35.

29.Cf.1Pet.2:1317.

30.Cf.Acts 4:1920.

31.Cf.LeoXIII,letter"OfficioSanctissimo",Dec.221887:AAS20(1887),p.269idem,letter"ExLitteris",April71887:AAS19
(1886),p.465.

32.Cf.Mark16:15Matt.28:1820,PiusXII,encycl." SummiPontificatus",Oct.20,1939:AAS31(1939).pp.445446.
33.Cf.PiusXI,letter" FirmissimanConstantiam",March28,1937:AAS29(1937),p.196.
34.Cf.PiusXII,allocution,"CiRiesce",Dec.6,1953:AAS45(1953),p.802.

35.Cf.PiusXII,radiomessage,March23,1952:AAS44(1952)pp.270278.

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3/22/2017 Dignitatishumanae
36.Cf.Acts4:29.

37.Cf.JohnXXIII,encycl."PaceminTerris",April11,1963:AAS55(1963),pp.299300.
38.Cf.JohnXXIII,encycl."PaceminTerris ",April11,1963:AAS55(1963)pp.295296.

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