It is not unknown nor unnoted that the freedom claimed by man as something due to his human dignity and by virtue of his consequent human rights, can sometimes turn into license to his own undoing and/or the misfortune if not disaster of others – men, women and children alike. In the same way, it is neither a secret that not a few people are very conscious and demanding of their rights – but practically unmindful of their obligations. In other words, it is not only right but also necessary to know the nature as well as the intent and scope of human freedom. For this reason, it becomes not only mandatory but also practical to know both the extent and limit of human freedom according to the Social Doctrine of the Church that formally and expressly makes the following key observations:
1. Human freedom is rooted in human dignity – neither due to any mere concession of civil legislation nor by any government grant.
But then, the exercise of human freedom demands not only the possession of due knowledge but also the presence of real choices for the agent. Human freedom is undermined if not in effect denied by mere impulse – base instinct, blind passion, plain caprice – on the part of the agent, not to mention the numbing effect of alcohol and prohibited drugs on the individual concerned. And needless to say, freedom and force – with the latter being moral or physical – make a contradictory pair whereas force is precisely considered as the “chain of freedom”.
2. Human freedom may neither be the legitimate premise nor the acceptable rationale for any unethical or immoral conduct.
Briefly, there is freedom only to do good – not to perpetrate evil. Thus it is that the fundamental rationale of freedom is for the personal agent to pursue his own good and to do good to others, to society in general. The following observations are both certain and certified: Freedom is harmful when exercised on the premise of falsehood. Freedom is dangerous when acted upon by dictators. Freedom and insanity, amorality, gross irresponsibility are mutually exclusive.
3. Human freedom for the Church is a reality that is not only significant but also profound, not merely true but also necessary, not simply rational but also ethical and indispensable.
Reasons: Given his intellectual and volitional faculties together with his spiritual yearnings, the right to and exercise of freedom on the part of man are but in consonance with his singular nature and prerogatives, his signal dignity and transcendence. Such is human freedom that its rightful tenure and exercise are in accord with moral law as well as with the order of nature. Human freedom accompanies every human person – again, irrespective of his race, color and creed. Human freedom is behind the exercise of human rights and fulfillment of human obligations.