Even after studying and writing and speaking about the conciliar text for more than a decade, I still manage to find in them previously unrecognized subtleties that serve to undermine the Faith in remarkably profound ways; in the present case, in the Declaration on Religious Freedom, Dignitatis Humanae.
One of the distinguishing features of this document that I’ve noted in the past is the degree to which the Council’s focus has shifted away from man’s spiritual end toward what appears to be an overriding concern for matters merely temporal. Needless to say, the former is the Church’s primary concern, and her view of matters temporal is always cast in that light.
Keeping man’s spiritual ends in plain sight is necessary for defining the “common good.” The only good that is truly common to all is the destiny for which all were created; to live with God forever in eternity. Temporal affairs must be regulated in such way as to further, or at the very least not impede, man’s journey to that ultimate end and fulfillment.
In Dignitatis Humanae, the Council employs the phrase “common good” while subtly divorcing it from concern for man’s spiritual end.
Finally, government is to see to it that equality of citizens before the law, which is itself an element of the common good, is never violated, whether openly or covertly, for religious reasons. Nor is there to be discrimination among citizens. DH 6
To urge concern for the “common good,” while also directing the State to remove “religious reasons” from consideration in its regulation of public affairs, is an egregious contradiction that is utterly incompatible with authentic Catholic thought as expressed so very clearly by the pre-conciliar popes. It is tantamount to redefining the common good.
This redefinition of the common good forms one of the building blocks upon which the Council constructed its unsustainable case for a so-called “right to religious freedom” regardless of one’s relationship to truth.
And we wonder why atheists, humanists and assorted other enemies of the Church so often invoke it this way…