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Life in Christ

431

1735

Imputability

and responsibility for an action can be dimin-

ished or even nullified by ignorance, inadvertence, duress, fear, habit,

inordinate attachments, and other psychological or social factors.

1736

Every act directly willed is imputable to its author:

Thus the Lord asked Eve after the sin in the garden: “What is this

that you have done?”

29

He asked Cain the same question.

30

The prophet

Nathan questioned David in the same way after he committed adultery

with the wife of Uriah and had him murdered.

31

An action can be indirectly voluntary when it results from negli-

gence regarding something one should have known or done: for example,

an accident arising from ignorance of traffic laws.

1737

An effect can be tolerated without being willed by its agent; for

instance, a mother’s exhaustion from tending her sick child. A bad effect

is not imputable if it was not willed either as an end or as a means of an

action, e.g., a death a person incurs in aiding someone in danger. For a bad

effect to be imputable it must be foreseeable and the agent must have the

possibility of avoiding it, as in the case of manslaughter caused by a

drunken driver.

1738

Freedom is exercised in relationships between human be-

ings. Every human person, created in the image of God, has the

natural right to be recognized as a free and responsible being. All

owe to each other this duty of respect. The

right to the exercise of

freedom,

especially in moral and religious matters, is an inalienable

requirement of the dignity of the human person. This right must

be recognized and protected by civil authority within the limits of

the common good and public order.

32

II.

H

uman

F

reedom

in

the

E

conomy of

S

alvation

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.

29

Gen

3:13.

30 Cf.

Gen

4:10.

31 Cf.

2 Sam

12:7-15.

32 Cf.

DH

2 § 7.

597

2568

2263

2106

2109

387

401