December 7, 2005

40th Anniversary of Vatican Declaration on Religious Freedom, Dignitatis Humanae

December 7, 2005, marks the 40th anniversary of Dignitatis Humanae, the Second Vatican Council’s declaration on religious freedom. Dignitatis Humanae asserts the fundamental right of all individuals, religious communities and families to freedom of religious participation and expression, and it affirms the duty of civil authorities to protect this right. Beyond religious freedom, the document represented a major development in Catholic teaching on human rights and church-state relations.

In light of this anniversary, the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life has collected a variety of resources capturing the significance of the original declaration and its current commemoration. The resources include links to Pew Forum transcripts and related resource pages, as well as links to Vatican statements on religious freedom and accredited news and institutional resources.

Pew Forum Resources  |  Vatican Statements and Other Church Resources  |  News  |  Other Resources and Interest Group Statements

Pew Forum Resources

Event Transcript: Pope Benedict XVI and World Affairs

Q&A with Dr. J. Peter Pham: Vatican Foreign Policy in the New Pontificate

Resource Page: Vatican Commemorates 40th Anniversary of Nostra Aetate

Resource Page: Pope Benedict XVI on the Church’s Role in Public Life

Vatican Statements and other Church Resources

Dignitatis Humanae Declaration

Declaration on Religious Freedom, Dignitatis Humanae, On the Right of the Person and Communities to Social and Civil Liberty in Religious Matters, Promulgated by Pope Paul VI (December 7, 1965)

Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity
The former Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity, established by Pope John XXIII, now the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity (PCPCU), presented Dignitatis Humanae to the Second Vatican Council. Cardinal Walter Kasper is the current President of the PCPCU.

Documents of the Second Vatican Council

Church Statements on Religious Freedom

Message of Pope John Paul II on the Value and Content of Freedom of Conscience and of Religion (September 1, 1980)

To Serve Peace, Respect Freedom, Message of Pope John Paul II for the Celebration of the Day of Peace (January 1, 1981)

Religious Freedom: Condition for Peace, Message of Pope John Paul II for the Celebration of the World Day of Peace (January 1, 1988)

Secularism and Religious Freedom: 30 Years on from Dignitatis Humanae, Statement by Cardinal Paul Poupard at the International Congress on Secularism and Religious Freedom, organized by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty at the Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum in Rome (December 5, 1995)

Human Rights Questions: Freedom of Religion, Statement by Msgr. Renato R. Martino, Permanent Observer of the Holy See, at the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) of the 52nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly (November 15, 1997)

Statement by Msgr. Diarmuid Martin, Head of the Holy See Delegation, at the International Consultative Conference on School Education in Relation to Freedom of Religion or Belief, Tolerance and Non-Discrimination (November 27, 2001)

Statement on Religious Freedom, by Msgr. Renato R. Martino, Permanent Observer of the Holy See, at the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) of the 57th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (November 8, 2002)

Statement by S.E. Msgr. Silvano Tomasi, C.S., Permanent Observer of the Holy See, at the 60th Session of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights (April 5, 2004)

Statement on “Item 105B: Elimination of All Forums of Religious Intolerance,” by Msgr Celestino Migliore of the Holy See, at the United Nations Commission on Human Rights (October 26, 2004)

Address on Religious Freedom, by Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo, Secretary for the Holy See’s Relations with States, at the Pontifical Gregorian University of Rome, for a conference on “Religious Freedom, Cornerstone of Human Dignity” organized by the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See (December 3, 2004)

Statement on the Elimination of All Forms of Religious Intolerance, by Msgr. Silvano Maria Tomasi, C.S., Permanent Observer of the Holy See, at the 61st Session of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights (April 2, 2005)

Testimony on the 2005 International Religious Freedom Report, by the Most Reverend Ricardo Ramirez, Roman Catholic Bishop of Las Cruces, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on International Relations (November 15, 2005)

News

Keep Alive the Spirit of Vatican II, Pope Urges (Catholic World News, 10/31/05)
Religious Freedom: Vatican II Modernizes Church-State Ties (Catholic News Service, 10/12/05)
Second Vatican Council Approved 16 Documents (Catholic News Service, 10/12/05)
Pope Paul VI Directed, Implemented Vatican II (Catholic News Service, 10/12/05)
The Pope’s True Revolution (TIME, 4/11/05)

Other Resources and Interest Group Statements
United States Commission on International Religious Freedom
U.S. Department of State International Religious Freedom Report 2005
Statement by Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice on the 2005 International Religious Freedom Report (State Department press release, 11/8/05)
United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (adopted December 10, 1948)
Rome Conference to Celebrate 40 Years of Dignitatis Humanae (The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty press release, 11/28/05)
Freedom House Center for Religious Freedom
Parliamentary Delegations Begin Arrival in Washington for Third Annual Human Rights and Religious Freedom Conference (Institute on Religion and Public Policy press release, 11/28/05)

Commentary

Essay: Arguments for the Human Right to Religious Freedom, by John Courtney Murray, S.J. (Acta Congressus Internationalis de Theologia Concilii Vaticani II, 1968)

Lecture: An Unfinished Argument: John Courtney Murray, Dignitatis Humanae and the Catholic Theory of the State, by Kenneth L. Grasso (Faith and Reason Institute)

Essay: Re-Viewing Vatican II: An Interview with George Lindbeck, by George Weigel (First Things 48, 1994)

Essay: The Catholic Human Rights Revolution, by George Weigel (Crisis, Jul/Aug 1996)

Essay: Religious Freedom: Innovation and Development, by Avery Cardinal Dulles (First Things 118, Dec 2001)

Interview: Vatican II, 40 Years Later: Dignitatis Humanae, Father Richard Neuhaus on the Declaration on Religious Freedom (Zenit, 11/20/2003)