Skip to main content

Cardinal Burke at Dignitatis Humanae Colloquium: Combat Secularization Within the Church Herself

Colloquium on Dignitatis Humanae in Norcia

On Friday Cardinal Burke opened the Dialogos Institute Colloquium on the proper interpretation of Vatican II’s Declaration on religious liberty, Dignitatis Humanae, currently being held in the Norcia, the birthplace of St. Benedict. In his opening remarks the cardinal thanked the Dialogos Institute for its work for the renewal  of philosophy and theology, and thus for the renewal of Christian society. He pointed out the importance of the question of religious liberty for such renewal. The Church can only accept teachings in organic continuity with Apostolic Tradition, and yet many theologians interpret Dignitatis Humanae as contradicting previous teaching. The Cardinal recalled one of his own teachers in canon law, a student of Fr. John Courtney Murray’s who had argued that Dignitatis Humanae represents a radical break with the magisterial teachings of 19th century popes. But, the Cardinal argued, the Church cannot accept any teaching on religious liberty that contradicts previous teachings, especially teachings on the social kingship of Christ, which belong to the deposit of faith itself. It is thus vital for the Church to reflect on the real content of her teaching with respect to Church/state relations, and religious liberty, especially given the current context of aggressive secularism and Islam. A new evangelization is needed even within the Church herself in order to re-discover the Apostolic Tradition, and to combat secular influences within the Church— including the influence of secular, indifferentist conceptions of religious liberty. Hence the importance of the current colloquium.