Faith Formation

Author: 
Father Dennis Noon
Date: 
Sunday, January 15, 2017 - 4:15pm

          The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms states that every Canadian has “freedom of conscience and religion” as well as freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression. These inalienable rights are also guaranteed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and many national constitutions and international covenants. These rights should be defended when they are violated or threatened. The Second Vatican Council’s Declaration of Religious Freedom, “Dignitatis Humane,” explains that freedom of conscience comes from God. Conscience allows humans to enter into a relationship with God and to freely choose good, which alone will fulfill our ultimate desire. We are drawn to truth not through some external agency or force, but because of the beauty of truth. What is right, good and loving attracts the heart because through truth the heart finds genuine peace and happiness. This theme also found expression in Thomas Aquinas’ reflections on natural law. He said natural law was an inclination towards the common good, which is discerned through reason. There is a natural inclination to live in healthy and well-functioning societies in which everyone is accepted equally regardless of race, gender, sexuality, religion etc. These precepts of natural law are written into the fabric of our soul. They are why we become angry at injustice, human suffering and betrayal. They are the reason why we have a duty to advocate for justice and to make the world with all its ambiguities, conform to God’s will. This is also the basis for common morality which is governed by laws that, while formulated by human beings, are based on divine law. The Second Vatican Council recognized this reality. It declared that a person’s conscience allows them to recognize divine law and therefore “he is bound to follow his conscience faithfully in all his activity” and should never “be prevented from acting according to his conscience, especially in religious matters.”