Modern “Liberties” Condemned

“But looking at it from a purely theoretical point of view, the question arises, What are these so-called modern liberties as to principle and right?

83. We boldly affirm that these much-vaunted liberties, as understood by the liberal rationalists, are nothing else that a fearful license and impunity granted to all errors, and thereby to all vice. If liberty there be in this, is it not that of disorder and social corruption?

In fact, these modern liberties in reality constitute a law of which the following is the epitome: ‘ All doctrines, of whatever kind, be they subversive of all morality, order, and religion, are free so long as public tranquility remains undisturbed. They may be propagated by the press, by teaching, by the theatre, by false religion, by secret and notorious pernicious societies. The seeds of every disorder may be sown in the minds of the people so long as public order is outwardly respected.’

What can be said of such a law, if not that it is contrary to all reason and to all right, natural and divine, and to the most elementary principles of public order?

84. It is said, in justification of these licentious liberties, that law and government ought to be restricted to the preservation of order and the protection of the property of the subject.

In reply we assert that government is truly limited to the maintenance of order; the civil authority having been instituted by God for the safeguard and defence of perfect and complete order in human society. How order comprises, not only the right of proprietorship, of tranquility, and personal inviolability, but also the right to possess truth and virtue. If the State is bound to defend the property of the citizen from robbery, and his life from aggressors from within and without, it is equally bound, according to the measure of a moral possibility, to protect that which is infinitely more precious, his intellectual and moral welfare, from error and corruption; that is to say, the State must protect the true principles of order and true religious and moral doctrines, and it must defend them from the public scandals of the press, of false teaching, of the theatre, and of all pernicious societies.

Such is natural right when confirmed by the divine; but so-called modern liberties, and that liberalism which patronises them, are in opposition to the natural and divine rights, and to the true principles of public order.”

Schouppe, F.X. S.J. A Course of Religious Instruction: Apologetic Dogmatic and Moral for the use of Colleges and Schools. 1879. pp. 100-101. Impr.