Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Rome and Freedom of Religion

Rome's practices with respect to the freedom of religion have obviously changed. We don't hear stories about any modern-day inquisitors. However, it should be noted that Rome's view on coercion of apostates is actually set in a dogmatic definition.

Specifically, Canon 14 on Baptism from Trent's Seventh Session reads as follows:
CANON XIV.-If any one saith, that those who have been thus baptized when children, are, when they have grown up, to be asked whether they will ratify what their sponsors promised in their names when they were baptized; and that, in case they answer that they will not, they are to be left to their own will; and are not to be compelled [cogendos] meanwhile to a Christian life by any other penalty, save that they be excluded from the participation of the Eucharist, and of the other sacraments, until they repent; let him be anathema.
Notice that Trent is saying that the people who reject Christianity upon coming of age, but who were baptized as infants, are to be compelled beyond excommunication. I'm not aware of Roman Catholicism actually practicing this in modern times, but can any Roman Catholic reconcile a view of religious liberty and self-determination with Canon 14 above?

Compare this:
The freedom of the act of faith cannot justify a right to dissent. In fact this freedom does not indicate at all freedom with regard to the truth but signifies the free self-determination of the person in conformity with his moral obligation to accept the truth. The act of faith is a voluntary act because man, saved by Christ the Redeemer and called by Him to be an adopted son (cf. Rom 8:15; Gal 4:5; Eph 1:5; Jn 1:12), cannot adhere to God unless, "drawn by the Father" (Jn 6:44), he offer God the rational homage of his faith (cf. Rom 12:1). As the Declaration Dignitatis humanae recalls, no human authority may overstep the limits of its competence and claim the right to interfere with this choice by exerting pressure or constraint. Respect for religious liberty is the foundation of respect for all the rights of man.

One cannot then appeal to these rights of man in order to oppose the interventions of the Magisterium. Such behavior fails to recognize the nature and mission of the Church which has received from the Lord the task to proclaim the truth of salvation to all men. She fulfills this task by walking in Christ's footsteps, knowing that "truth can impose itself on the mind only by virtue of its own truth, which wins over the mind with both gentleness and power".

- Cardinal Ratzinger, then Prefect for the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith (formerly known as the Inquisition), Instruction on the Ecclesial Vocation of the Theologian, Section 36 (footnotes omitted)(24 May 1990)

How is the alleged freedom of self-determination consistent with compulsion beyond excommunication? That's the question for my Roman Catholic readers.



Anonymous said...

I know one who has thus been anathematized!!

natamllc said...

While these words hold within the confines of what the present Pope wrote before, I do see truth in them there hills, his words!

I would post the truth of the Pope prior to becoming exalted to his present see:

The act of faith is a voluntary act because man, saved by Christ the Redeemer and called by Him to be an adopted son (cf. Rom 8:15; Gal 4:5; Eph 1:5; Jn 1:12), cannot adhere to God unless, "drawn by the Father" (Jn 6:44), he offer God the rational homage of his faith (cf. Rom 12:1). [sic]

I would cite from J.V. Fesko's book, Justification, Understanding the Classic Reformed Doctrine, page 365:

The Declaration suffers from the same maladies as other similar ecumenical documents--a lack of theological precision. Apart from precise formulations, one can easily house a number of views on justification. For example, it is true that Lutherans, Reformed and Roman Catholics all believe that justification involves the forgiveness of sin. That aspect of the doctrine of justification has never been an issue of contention. What has been a subject of debate is the nature of the forgiveness. Is the forgiveness only the non-imputation of sin, or is there the positive imputation of righteousness? Therein lies the debate, something that the following statement from the declaration ignores: "Justification is the forgiveness of sins, liberation from the dominating power of sin and death and from the curse of the law."

The citation is from the joint declaration coming out of the Lutheran World Federation and the RCC meeting of the minds arrived at in 1999 at the Augsburg, Germany conference. It is regarding the Lutheran Confessions and from the Council of Trent that: both encompass a "consensus" on basic truths of the doctrine of justification and shows that the remaining differences in its explication are no longer the occasion for doctrinal condemnations] {page 363,}.

Two things.

One, the Pope used the word "rational" in the citation referring to Romans 12:1

The Greek word rendered in the English by the Pope is:

From G3056; rational (“logical”): - reasonable, of the word.

That word is only used twice in the New Testament, once there at Romans 12:1 and at 1 Peter 2:2, KJV "...1Pe 2:2 As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:...".

And two, there is no dispute by either Lutherans, Reformed or Roman Catholic faiths about "justification for the forgiveness of sins".

It's just problematic and in no way is it unifying. It hasn't unified the faiths since the days Jesus spoke His own Words, here:

Luk 24:44 Then he said to them, "These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled."
Luk 24:45 Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures,
Luk 24:46 and said to them, "Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead,
Luk 24:47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.
Luk 24:48 You are witnesses of these things.
Luk 24:49 And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high."