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When Liberty Becomes an Evil
The United States claims to be the country of liberty. Under this pretext, we have often come to think that everything - both good or evil - should be equally protected under the shield of law. There is something fundamentally wrong and self-destructive in this concept. Pope Leo XIII wisely sets the limits within which true liberty must live. We thought these teachings could be useful to our readers.
So, also, the liberty to think and publish whatsoever each one likes, without any hindrance, is not in itself a good over which society can wisely rejoice. On the contrary, it is the fountainhead and origin of many evils.
Liberty, that element to perfect man, should have truth and goodness for its object. But the character of goodness and truth cannot be changed at option. Now, the essence of goodness and of truth cannot change according to the whims of man, but remain ever one and the same, and are no less unchangeable than nature itself. If the mind assents to false opinions, and the will chooses and follows after what is wrong, neither can attain its perfection, but both must fall from their native dignity and become corrupted.
Whatever, therefore, is opposed to virtue and truth may not rightly be brought temptingly before the eye of man, much less sanctioned by the favor and protection of the law. A well-spent life is the only way to Heaven, whither all are bound. On this account the State is acting against the laws and dictates of nature whenever it permits the license of opinion and of action that leads minds astray from truth and souls away from the practice of virtue.
(Encyclical Immortale Dei of November 1, 1885, n. 32.)
Posted January 27, 2007
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