Today’s Catechism sections continue the discussion of human freedom. Supporting material comes from the CDF document, “Libertatis Conscientia”.

II. Human Freedom in the Economy of Salvation

1739 Freedom and sin. Man's freedom is limited and fallible. In fact, man failed. He freely sinned. By refusing God's plan of love, he deceived himself and became a slave to sin. This first alienation engendered a multitude of others. From its outset, human history attests the wretchedness and oppression born of the human heart in consequence of the abuse of freedom.

1740 Threats to freedom. The exercise of freedom does not imply a right to say or do everything. It is false to maintain that man, "the subject of this freedom," is "an individual who is fully self-sufficient and whose finality is the satisfaction of his own interests in the enjoyment of earthly goods."33 Moreover, the economic, social, political, and cultural conditions that are needed for a just exercise of freedom are too often disregarded or violated. Such situations of blindness and injustice injure the moral life and involve the strong as well as the weak in the temptation to sin against charity. By deviating from the moral law man violates his own freedom, becomes imprisoned within himself, disrupts neighborly fellowship, and rebels against divine truth.

1741 Liberation and salvation. By his glorious Cross Christ has won salvation for all men. He redeemed them from the sin that held them in bondage. "For freedom Christ has set us free."34 In him we have communion with the "truth that makes us free."35 The Holy Spirit has been given to us and, as the Apostle teaches, "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom."36 Already we glory in the "liberty of the children of God."37

1742 Freedom and grace. The grace of Christ is not in the slightest way a rival of our freedom when this freedom accords with the sense of the true and the good that God has put in the human heart. On the contrary, as Christian experience attests especially in prayer, the more docile we are to the promptings of grace, the more we grow in inner freedom and confidence during trials, such as those we face in the pressures and constraints of the outer world. By the working of grace the Holy Spirit educates us in spiritual freedom in order to make us free collaborators in his work in the Church and in the world:

Almighty and merciful God,
in your goodness take away from us all that is harmful,
so that, made ready both in mind and body,
we may freely accomplish your will.38

IN BRIEF

1747 The right to the exercise of freedom, especially in religious and moral matters, is an inalienable requirement of the dignity of man. But the exercise of freedom does not entail the putative right to say or do anything.

1748 "For freedom Christ has set us free" (? Gal 5:1).

The CDF Document, “Libertatis Conscientia” discusses authentic freedom in the light of truth.

3. The words of Jesus: "The truth will make you free" (Jn 8:32) must enlighten and guide all theological reflection and all pastoral decisions in this area. This truth which comes from God has its centre in Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the world.(4) From him, who is "the way, and the truth, and the life" (Jn 14:6), the Church receives all that she has to offer to mankind. Through the mystery of the Incarnate Word and Redeemer of the world, she possesses the truth regarding the Father and his love for us, and also the truth concerning man and his freedom.

Through his Cross and Resurrection, Christ has brought about our Redemption, which is liberation in the strongest sense of the word, since it has freed us from the most radical evil, namely sin and the power of death. When the Church, taught by her Lord, raises to the Father her prayer: "Deliver us from evil", she asks that the mystery of salvation may act with power in our daily lives. The Church knows that the redeeming Cross is truly the source of light and life and the centre of history. The charity which burns in her impels her to proclaim the Good News and to distribute its life-giving fruits through the sacraments. It is from Christ the Redeemer that her thought and action originate when, as she contemplates the tragedies affecting the world, she reflects on the meaning of liberation and true freedom and on the paths leading to them.

Truth beginning with the truth about redemption, which is at the heart of the mystery of faith, is thus the root and the rule of freedom, the foundation and the measure of all liberating action.

Footnotes

33 CDF, instruction, Libertatis conscientia 13.
34 ? Gal 5: 1.
35 Cf. In 8:32.
36 2 Cor 17.
37 ? Rom 8:21.
38 Roman Missal, 32nd Sunday, Opening Prayer: Omnipotens et misericors Deus, universa nobis adversantia propitiatus exclude, ut, mente et corpore pariter expediti, quae tua sunt liberis mentibus exsequamur.