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According to John Young "the Second Vatican Council taught infallibly that people have a right, within due limits, to the private and public practice of their religion, even when their beliefs are erroneous."
Let us attend to the text of the Declaration on Religious Freedom ( Dignitatis Humanae). It reads: "This Vatican Synod declares that the human person has a right to religious freedom." Is this a definition of doctrine? If it is, it is infallible teaching.
But why think it a definition? The only evidence is the word "declares" (Latin declarat). So are we to understand that whenever the Council "declares" something it is defining a doctrine? We shall see that the Council documents use "declares" and "declaration" a number of times without signifying that they are defining a doctrine.
For example, there are declarations on the Relationship of the Church to Non-Christian Religions and on Christian Education. Are they infallible because they contain "declaration" in their titles? Attached to the Constitution on the Liturgy is a Declaration on Revision of the Calendar. Is this trifling matter being taught Infallibly? The Constitution (art. 4) also "declares" all [liturgical] rites to be of equal dignity.
If Mr Young is right, Vatican II was defining doctrines all over the place. It is a pity no one else has ever noticed them.
Two more historical points. The Fathers of the Fourth Lateran Council (1215), who adopted Pope Innocent III's proposal to persecute severely heretics and Jews, would not have recognised Vatican II's teaching as that of the Catholic Church, as I have already pointed out (August AD2000). If Vatican II were infallible, so was Lateran IV.
St Thomas More must have been notably deficient in his understanding of Church teaching when he sentenced heretics to death by burning. What a shame he might have to be removed from the list of saints for denying the infallible teaching of Vatican II, as expounded by Mr Young.
FRANK MOBBS (DR)
Reprinted from AD2000 Vol 23 No 10 (November 2010), p. 14
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