July 4, 2007 – Independence Day

St. Blog’s Commemorates the 4th of July

A revisitation to some posts from years past:

What Kind of Freedom?

“Confirm thy soul in self-control, Thy liberty in law!” — A pertinent line from America the Beautiful and a clarification of the kind of freedom that our founding fathers envisioned and sought for in establishing our nation.

One of the most ardent defenders of religious and political freedom in the 19th century was Lord Acton, remembered for his oft-quoted caution that “”Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely,” but who also insisted that “Liberty is not the power of doing what we like, but the right of being able to do what we ought.”

  • From the Acton Institute comes two pertinent studies of the meaning of human freedom: Enjoying and Making Use of a Responsible Freedom by Cardinal Avery Dulles Religion & Liberty Volume 11, Number 5, Sept/Oct 2001) – on the understanding of freedom put forth by Dignitatis Humanae; and “The Moral Foundations of Freedom”, by George Weigel (Acton Lecture on Religion & Liberty. October 23, 2000), on religious freedom and the Catholic Church’s interaction with contemporary democracy.
“The Founding Fathers of the United States asserted their claim to freedom and independence on the basis of certain “self-evident” truths about the human person: truths which could be discerned in human nature, built into it by “nature’s God.” Thus they meant to bring into being, not just an independent territory, but a great experiment in what George Washington called “ordered liberty.”…

“The American democratic experiment has been successful in many ways; millions of people around the world look to the United States as a model in their search for freedom, dignity, and prosperity. But the continuing success of American democracy depends on the degree to which each new generation, native-born and immigrant, makes its own moral truths on which the Founding Fathers staked the future of your Republic.”

“I am happy to take note of your words confirming the importance that your government attaches, in its relations with countries around the world, to the promotion of human rights and particularly to the fundamental human right of religious freedom, which is the guarantee of every other human right. Respect for religious convictions played no small part in the birth and early development of the United States. Thus John Dickinson, chairman of the Committee for the Declaration of Independence, said in 1776: “Our liberties do not come from the charters; for these are only declarations of preexisting rights. They do not depend on parchment or seals; but come from the King of Kings and the Lord of all the earth.” Indeed it may be asked whether the American experiment would have been possible, or how well it will succeed in the future, without a deeply rooted vision of divine Providence over the individual and over the fate of nations.”

Pope John Paul II, 1988

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