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Catholic Dictionary




That part of religious freedom which concerns the worship of God according to the dictates of one's conscience. This refers especially to freedom from constraint by the civil law. As stated in the Second Vatican Council "the private and public acts of religion by which men direct themselves to God according to their consciences transcend by their very nature the earthly and temporal order of things. Therefore the civil authority, the purpose of which is the care of the common good in the temporal order, must recognize and look with favor on the religious life of the citizens. But if it presumes to control or restrict religious activity, it must be said to have exceeded the limits of its power" (Declaration on Religious Liberty, I, 3).