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512

Part Three

just limits, from external constraint in religious matters by political

authorities. This natural right ought to be acknowledged in the ju­

ridical order of society in such a way that it constitutes a civil

right.

38

2109

The right to religious liberty can of itself be neither unlimited nor

limited only by a “public order” conceived in a positivist or naturalist

manner.

39

The “due limits” which are inherent in it must be determined

for each social situation by political prudence, according to the require­

ments of the common good, and ratified by the civil authority in accord­

ance with “legal principles which are in conformity with the objective

moral order.”

40

III.

“Y

ou

S

hall

H

ave

N

o

O

ther

G

ods

B

efore

M

e

2110

The first commandment forbids honoring gods other than

the one Lord who has revealed himself to his people. It proscribes

superstition and irreligion. Superstition in some sense represents

a perverse excess of religion; irreligion is the vice contrary by defect

to the virtue of religion.

Superstition

2111

Superstition is the deviation of religious feeling and of the

practices this feeling imposes. It can even affect the worship we

offer the true God, e.g., when one attributes an importance in some

way magical to certain practices otherwise lawful or necessary. To

attribute the efficacy of prayers or of sacramental signs to their

mere external performance, apart from the interior dispositions

that they demand, is to fall into superstition.

41

Idolatry

2112

The first commandment condemns

polytheism.

It requires

man neither to believe in, nor to venerate, other divinities than the

one true God. Scripture constantly recalls this rejection of “idols,

[of] silver and gold, the work of men’s hands. They have mouths,

but do not speak; eyes, but do not see.” These empty idols make

their worshippers empty: “Those who make them are like them; so

38 Cf.

DH

2.

39 Cf. Pius VI,

Quod aliquantum

(1791)10; Pius IX,

Quanta cura

3.

40

DH

7 § 3.

41 Cf.

Mt

23:16-22.

2244

1906

210