Religious Freedom Today:
The Catholic View
by John Newton
Catholic Truth Society (CTS)
This is a really important and well presented work. In some parts of the world, being a Christian could cost a person his life. In the West, threats to religious freedom are more subtle. The author points out that in Scotland, two midwives were told by the UK Supreme Court that they had to supervise nurses involved in carrying out abortion even if they morally objected to the procedure. In response, the author follows the Catholic view: we must be free to follow our conscience. By freedom is meant that which truly safeguards the dignity of the human person. By a well formed conscience is meant that which formulates its judgements according to reason. How different the Catholic view is from the secularist view. Freedom for them means doing what you like as long as it does not harm anyone else.
And so we have an obligation to follow our conscience if we desire to be with God. Quite simply, that is how important conscience is in Catholic thinking.
The author also notes that parents have a right to educate their children in accordance with their beliefs. Provided, of course, these beliefs do not go against the natural law. Governments have an obligation to respect these rights. Once again, we see an erosion of rights.
Religious freedom ought to be regarded as a human right, even though the author notes that seventy per cent of the world's population live in countries where governments impose high restrictions on religious beliefs.
This is very well argued. And it has a helpful glossary of terms.
Reviewed by Dr Pravin Thevathasan