Reflection & Dialogue: Christians are called to freedom.
Today’s readings call for reflection on a question that is as old as human freedom and revealed religion, namely the place of freedom of thought and action in the society in which we live. It is consoling that the question has been treated by Jesus (John’s Gospel) and Paul before our day. The question has become more acute since the philosophical and cultural movement and thought of the eighteenth century, commonly known as the Enlightenment. With this came a desire and movement to have human thought and activity determined by what the human mind and senses can perceive without acceptance of involvement from divine revelation. The situation has become more acute in our own day when this movement has become connected with an active atheism. Contemporary atheism holds that religion, of its very nature, thwarts man’s emancipation through economic and social liberation by raising man’s hopes in a future life, thus both deceiving him and discouraging him from working for a better form of life on earth. The movement would have religious education removed from primary schools: pupils should be taught how to think, not what to think. This is something with which we will have to live, and it is good that believers are aware of the issues involved. The Church is well aware of this situation and deals with it at some length in the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World (paragraphs 19-21) of Vatican II (1965), and the new Catechism of the Catholic Church (par. 2123-2126), documents usefully consulted.