A. What is it?
“Dignitatis Humanae” is the Declaration of the Second Vatican Council on the Declaration on Religious Freedom.
“Dignitatis Humanae” – the Latin title – means “the Dignity of the Human Person”
This declaration was promulgated by Pope Paul VI on December 7, 1965.
B. What does it speak of?
“Dignitatis Humanae” speaks of the Church’s support for the protection of religious liberty.
The main aspects of “Dignitatis Humanae” are:
(i) The fundamental right to religious liberty: All persons have a right to religious liberty, a right with its foundation in the essential dignity of each human being.
All persons must be free to seek the truth without coercion, but are also morally obligated to embrace the Truth of the Catholic faith once they recognize it.
(ii) The responsibility of the state: The government is to protect the rights and equality of all citizens as part of its essential role in promoting the public good
(iii) Religious freedom and Christianity: Christians are called to an even more conscientious respect for religious freedom. Man’s response to God in faith must be free – no person is to be forced to embrace Christianity.
God’s own call to serve him binds persons in conscience but is not compulsion.
C. Pointers for Reflections
- “Dignitatis Humanae” affirms that “the one true religion subsists in the Catholic and Apostolic Church
This statement is also bound to the fact that “all men are bound to seek the truth, especially in what concerns God and his Church, and to embrace the truth they come to know, and to hold fast to it.”
- Human dignity has only one source and only one guarantee – We are made in the Image and Likeness of God.
The Declaration states that it was Christianity that led to the developing and uniquely stressing the idea of the individual person with an eternal destiny.
D. What virtues/points can we pick up from “Dignitatis Humanae” for this Season of Lent?
- Deepening our love for the Church and drawing more people to the True Faith
- Growing in our understanding of our own self – that we are in the glorious Image and Likeness of God – and so, each one of us are very good
E. Tips to practice these virtues
- Live the teachings of the Church in day-to-day life, and especially practise the basics of Catholic Living – Regular Holy Mass, Confessions, Bible Reading, Examination of Conscience, Recitation of the Holy Rosary, and Praying together in the Family
- Identify one’s strengths and blessings that God has given, and spend every day at least 10 minutes, to thank the Lord!
May this Lent and the familiarity with the Encyclical “Dignitatis Humanae” help us to grow in our acclamation: “Eureka – I have found the Lord”
(The Full Text of “Dignitatis Humanae” can be found at:
God Bless! Live Jesus!