In early October 2012, the Executive Committee sent a prayer/reflection to the Congregation inviting us to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council on October 11, 1962. Along with that reflection was the promise to send a weekly quote from the Vatican documents beginning in January 2013. These quotes will be sent each Monday until Holy Week, March 24, 2013.
The Vatican Council began our journey of renewal as women religious and it has, indeed, been a journey of faith. As we prepare to look once again at the “signs of the times” during our upcoming Assembly, let us re-capture the spirit of the Council to enliven and embolden our decisions about SCN life at the beginning of our third century.
Vatican II presented a renewed vision of religious freedom and the role of conscience.
The Vatican Synod declares that the human person has a right to religious freedom. This freedom means that all men (sic) are to be immune from coercion on the part of individuals or of social groups and of any human power in such wise that in matters religious no one is to be forced to act in a manner contrary to his own beliefs. Nor is anyone to be restrained from acting in accordance with his own beliefs whether privately or publicly, whether alone or in association with others, within due limits. The Synod further declares that the right to religious freedom has its foundation in the very dignity of the human person as this dignity is known through the revealed word of God and by reason itself. Declaration on Religious Freedom (Dignitatis Humanae) #2
On his part, man perceives and acknowledges the imperatives of the divine law through the mediation of conscience. In all his activity a man is bound to follow his conscience faithfully, in order that he may come to God, for whom he was created. It follows that he is not to be forced to act in a manner contrary to his conscience. Nor, on the other hand, is he to be restrained from acting in accordance with his conscience, especially in matters religious. Declaration on Religious Freedom (Dignitatis Humanae) #3
Such a mission requires in the first place that we foster within the Church herself mutual esteem, reverence and harmony through the full recognition of lawful diversity. Thus all those who compose the one People of God, both pastors and the general faithful, can engage in dialogue with ever abounding fruitfulness. For the bonds which unite the faithful are mightier than anything which divides them. Hence, let there be unity in what is necessary, freedom in what is unsettled, and charity in any case. Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World (Gaudium et Spes) #92