Vatican II on Religious Liberty – Witnesses to the truth

Christ the Saviour (Pantokrator), a 6th-centur...
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This is part of the daily readings provided by Daily Gospel.

Vatican Council II
Declaration on religious liberty, 11

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If Christ bore witness to the truth, he refused to impose the truth by force on those who spoke against it. Not by force of blows does His rule assert its claims. It is established by witnessing to the truth and by hearing the truth, and it extends its dominion by the love whereby Christ, lifted up on the cross, draws all men to Himself (Jn 12,32).

Taught by the word and example of Christ, the Apostles followed the same way…  Not by the use of coercion or of devices unworthy of the Gospel, but by the power, above all, of the word of God. Steadfastly they proclaimed to all the plan of God our Savior, “who wills that all men should be saved and come to the acknowledgment of the truth” (1 Tm 2:4). At the same time, however, they showed respect for those of weaker stuff, even though they were in error, and thus they made it plain that “each one of us is to render to God an account of himself” (Rm 14:12), and for that reason is bound to obey his conscience…

With a firm faith they held that the Gospel is indeed the power of God unto salvation for all who believe. Therefore they rejected all “purely human weapons»: they followed the example of the gentleness and respectfulness of Christ and they preached the word of God in the full confidence that there was resident in this word itself a divine power able to destroy all the forces arrayed against God… As the Master, so too the Apostles recognized legitimate civil authority… At the same time, however, they did not hesitate to speak out against governing powers which set themselves in opposition to the holy will of God: “It is necessary to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). This is the way along which the martyrs and other faithful have walked through all ages and over all the earth.

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