“True Freedom” – Review

Share this:

True Freedom: On Protecting Human Dignity and Religious Freedom

Cardinal Timothy Dolan

It’s easy to take religious freedom for granted. It’s enshrined in our Constitution and praised by the Church, and most of us have grown up without questioning it. However when this liberty is threatened, when it’s not respected as a fundamental right, we’re forced to pull back and ask a basic question: why do people deserve religious liberty?

Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York gives his answer in a new eBook released today. True Freedom: On Protecting Human Dignity and Religious Freedom (Image Books, 37 pages, eBook) shows how respect for human dignity—the dignity of all humans, regardless of their beliefs—undergirds the right to religious liberty. Quoting Pope Leo XIII, he begins by saying:

“True freedom… is that freedom which most truly safeguards the dignity of the human person. It is stronger than any violence or injustice. Such is the freedom which has always been desired by the Church, and which she holds most dear.”

Dolan spends most of the book linking religious freedom with dignity. He uses several pages to reflect on Pope John Paul II’s magnificent encyclical, Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life), which holds the natural moral law and intrinsic dignity as the twin pillars of the culture of life. Dolan shows how, like the walls of a house, when these two principles are ignored the whole project collapses–including the right to religious liberty:

“In only the last few years we’ve experienced rampant disregard for religious beliefs in this country with the approval of embryonic stem cell research; legal justification for the torture of prisoners; the provision of tax dollars to abortion providers; the HHS mandates; and, most recently, a redefinition of marriage by many of our leading political figures.
We can see that there is a loss of a sense of truth here, and objective moral norms–rules of conduct that apply always, to everyone, everywhere–and an ‘eclipse of a sense of God and of man’.”

In Dolan’s view, three ideologies–a “trinity of culprits”–are primarily to blame for this ‘eclipse,’ each standing athwart to the culture of life. There’s pragmatism, which ties man’s value to his output and efficiency; utilitarianism, which equates value with usefulness; and consumerism, which determines value by one’s ability to fill a need or satisfy an urge. All three systems share a common flaw, namely the preference of “having” and “doing” over “being.” This mistake not only fuels the culture of death; it’s also behind today’s modern assaults on religious liberty.
But what’s the response? How can we diffuse these threats and reclaim the primacy of dignity? Dolan answers by channeling John Paul in calling for “a positive, hopeful culture of life [rather] than wringing (our) hands over the culture of death.” It’s this culture of life, rooted in objective dignity, that will lift religious liberty back to its privileged position and lead to a flourishing society:

“By appealing to the necessary link between freedom and truth and by stressing our relationship with the God who has endowed us with both, The Gospel of Life offers us a pathway to building not just good laws, but a free and virtuous culture as well.”

True Freedom debuts at a perfect time, just two days before the national ‘Fortnight for Freedom.’ It’s also cheap ($0.99), smart, and punchy, much like Archbishop Charles Chaput’s recent eBook. And at just 37 pages you can knock it out in one sitting.  It’s importance, timeliness, and cheap prices makes True Freedom a must-read for all Catholics in America.

Share this:

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Swiftright-Right/100002904084914 Swiftright Right

    “The late pope saw that there was a “a war of the powerful against the weak””

    “A person who, because of illness, handicap, or, more simply, just by existing, threatens the well-being or lifestyle of those who are more favored tends to be looked upon as an enemy to be resisted or eliminated. In this way a kind of ‘conspiracy against life’ is unleashed.”

    Coming from most other Catholics I would applaud this little piece, coming from Dolan its hypocritical garbage. This is a man who routinely and publicly supports politicians who have not just attacked the poor, but have LED the attack on the poor despondent and critically ill. Here in PA he gave an addaboy in support to our Governor who in one pen stroke not only cut 200$ a month from the disabled and crippled but also reduced or cut programs to help young mothers with new infants. You know, the young ladies we as Catholics are desperately trying to convince not to abort their young??
    Later the same day he authorized $20-40 million of tax cuts for Shell Oil.

    So Dolan says one thing but support the other.

    Oh, and make it free. This morning I was trying to help and elderly patent who wanted to read it on her Ereader (this is how I heard of it) but couldn’t because of the charge. I ended up buying it and loaning her my reader. (incidentally this same woman who is an amputee will be losing 200$ a month starting with the new PA budget)

  • michael coco

    I have programed for 30 years why isn’t this a free download so every one can easly have it.