Does his argument and website link hold water?
[Another person’s attempted response to the claim that Vatican II taught heresy on religious liberty]:
The Vatican Council declares that the human person has the right to religious freedom. Freedom of this kind means that all men should be immune from coercion on the part of individuals, social groups and every human power so that, within due limits, nobody is forced to act against his convictions in religious matters in private or in public, alone or in associations with others. The Council further declares that the right to religious freedom is based on the very dignity of the human person as known through the revealed word of God and by reason itself. This right of the human person to religious freedom must be given such recognition in the constitutional order of society as will make it a civil right.
It then goes on to talk about free will and the seeking of religious truth.
To combat this, the website author, uses Pius IX's Quanta Cura from 1864. Pius IX's encyclical was written to condemn the abuses of the times such as pantheism, naturalism, and civil authorities rights in persons lives.
The quote used on the website is taken out of the context. Pius IX is talking about individual freedom being used as an excuse for sinful activity. The Vatican 2 document is talking about the natural right to religious freedom. I know this sounds like my opinion, but the only way to know for real is to read the two documents in their entirety and the commentaries on them.
Thanks for your question. Defenders of Vatican II have bent over backwards to attempt to reconcile its teaching with traditional Catholic teaching. As is the case with many issues, such as creation vs. evolution, etc. individuals attempt to confuse matters by distorting issues. For instance, a subtle distortion of a fossil can create an entire line of false belief in evolution. The same is true with this issue of religious liberty. It is true to say that unless a person understands the issue of religious liberty and its details he or she can be misled by these – sometimes subtle – distortions. Let’s take a look at one of them.
Many of the defenders of Vatican II’s teaching on religious liberty point out that the Catholic Church doesn’t force or coerce an unbeliever to be a Catholic, since belief is, by definition, a free act of the will. This is very true.
Pope Leo XIII, Immortale Dei (#36), Nov. 1, 1885: “And, in fact, the Church is wont to take earnest heed that no one shall be forced to embrace the Catholic faith against his will, for, as St. Augustine wisely reminds us, ‘Man cannot believe otherwise than of his own will.’”
They say, therefore, that Vatican II’s teaching on religious liberty was simply a repetition of this truth that the Church doesn’t force an unbeliever to be Catholic. This is what Patrick Madrid argued in his book, Pope Fiction.
Patrick Madrid, Pope Fiction, p. 277: “Notice the Declaration [on religious liberty] endorses not a general freedom to believe whatever you want, but rather, a freedom from being coerced into believing something. In other words, no one is to be forced to submit to the Catholic Faith.”
A person who is familiar with Vatican II’s teaching on religious liberty would probably detect the subtle distortion in the Madrid argument. Yet, we can see how those who are unfamiliar with the issue might be taken in by such an argument. The truth is, contrary to the claims of Patrick Madrid and others, Vatican II didn’t merely teach that the Catholic Church doesn’t force or coerce an unbeliever to be a Catholic. If that’s all it taught on that point, it wouldn’t have been heretical (on that point).
Rather, Vatican II taught that States don’t have the right to put down the public expression and propagation and practice of false religions (because the civil right to religious liberty should be universally recognized). Again, we must understand the distinction between the two different issues which the dishonest defenders of Vatican II sometimes attempt to conflate: First issue) the Catholic Church doesn’t force or coerce a nonbeliever to believe, since belief is free – true; Second issue) the State cannot repress the public expression of these false religions – this is where Vatican II contradicts the Catholic Church on religious liberty. The second issue is the key.
The Catholic Church teaches infallibly that States can and must (unless the regime were threatened by doing it or it were not within its reasonable power or a greater evil would result) put down the public expression and propagation of false religions. The contrary was condemned in the Syllabus of Errors.
Pope Pius IX, Syllabus of Errors, Dec. 8, 1864, # 77: “In this age of ours it is no longer expedient that the Catholic religion should be the only religion of the state, to the exclusion of all other cults whatsoever.” – Condemned.
We can see that the idea that the State cannot exclude the other religions is condemned. To understand this better let’s give an example: If a State were presented, for instance, with Muslims and Jews holding their religious services and celebrations in a public place (even if they were not disturbing the peace or infringing on any private property or upsetting the public order at all), the State could and should (according to Catholic teaching) repress these services and celebrations and send the Jews and Muslims home (or would arrest them, if the law were well established) since they scandalize others and could cause others to join these false religions. The State would tell them their obligation to be Catholic before God and try to convert them by directing them to the Catholic priests, but it wouldn’t force them to do so. This is an example of the clear distinction between 1) forcing one to be Catholic, something the Church condemns, since belief is free and 2) the State’s right to repress false religious activity, something the Church teaches.
Pope Pius IX, Syllabus of Errors, # 78: “Hence in certain regions of Catholic name, it has been laudably sanctioned by law that men immigrating there be allowed to have public exercises of any form of worship of their own.” – Condemned.
But Vatican II teaches just the opposite. Below we will quote a passage that is the clearest heresy of Vatican II on religious liberty. This passage cuts through all of the heretics’ attempts to distort and confuse what the religious liberty issue is and what Vatican II taught about it – so use it whenever you are debating this issue. (There are other subtle distortions on this issue of religious liberty which we may discuss in a future post). But this passage below from Vatican II is utterly indefensible and cuts through all of their attempted distortions. It is the clearest heresy of Vatican II on religious liberty, and probably the third clearest heresy in all of Vatican II.
Vatican II Document, Dignitatis humanae # 3: “So the state, whose proper purpose it is to provide for the temporal common good, should certainly recognize and promote the religious life of its citizens. With equal certainty it exceeds the limits of its authority, if it takes upon itself to direct or to prevent religious activity.”
Here Vatican II says that the State exceeds its authority if it dares to direct or prevent religious activity. We just saw above that the Syllabus of errors condemned the idea that State cannot prevent the activity of other religions. This proves that Vatican II’s teaching on religious liberty was clearly false and heretical.