How the moral authority of the Church was weakened by Vatican II

Dignitatis Humanae vs. "Domine, non sum dignus"

Vatican II's document on religious liberty and human dignity vs. "Lord, I am not worthy"

by Frank Rega

Published in the March, 2010 issue of Christian Order magazine.


     In light of the talks between the Vatican and the Society of St. Pius X, there have recently been many articles in the traditional Catholic media about religious liberty and Dignitatis Humanae (DH). Critics generally wrestle with the attempt to reconcile DH with traditional Catholicism. While the Church has always maintained that the public manifestation of false religions could be tolerated in exceptional circumstances, DH asserts that people must be granted a positive "civil right" to publicly practice and propagate any and all religions, within due limits. Hence: religious liberty a’ la Vatican II.

     Here are the key phrases in DH taken from the Vatican’s own web site: " . . . no one is to be forced to act in a manner contrary to his own beliefs, whether privately or publicly, whether alone or in association with others, within due limits." (1) And, "This right of the human person to religious freedom is to be recognized in the constitutional law whereby society is governed and thus it is to become a civil right." (2)

     The consequences of the doctrine of DH on religious liberty are so grave that there appears to be reluctance by critics to confront the overall picture – they don’t want to see the forest, or refuse to acknowledge it, but focus instead on the trees.  The document’s stand on religious freedom shamefully repudiates the First Commandment of the Old Testament by legalizing the worship of false gods.  It also essentially neutralizes the teaching of the New Testament that salvation is through Jesus Christ alone. In addition, DH constitutes a renunciation of any spiritual or moral rights and duties that the Church, by Divine Right, has over the State, since Jesus Christ is King of kings and Lord of lords. These are not merely discontinuities with tradition, or legitimate developments of doctrine – they are apostasies.    

Even the Catholic confessional state is rendered toothless by DH:

If, in view of peculiar circumstances obtaining among peoples, special civil recognition is given to one religious community in the constitutional order of society, it is at the same time imperative that the right of all citizens and religious communities to religious freedom should be recognized and made effective in practice (3)

     This is why, in the wake of the Council, the Concordats between the Vatican and the few nations that still professed Catholicism as their official religion, had to be modified to allow equal public rights to other religions and gods. Thus the Council has attempted to roll a permanent stone over the sepulcher of Christendom.

     One writer on this issue has stated that the qualification that the public practice of false religions must be "within due limits" is the saving grace of DH. He expresses hope that in the Vatican / SSPX talks the pope will clarify these variable, changeable limits. (4) But how can any due limits be applied to the public worship of false gods, in terms of a positive right? The true Church could never admit to such a guaranteed civil right to disobey the first and greatest commandment, in order to allow the worship of demons and idols, within "due limits." Again it is a reluctance to see the forest and admit the gravity of what DH proposes.

A drop of poison

     Pope Leo XIII in his encyclical Satis Cognitum (5) warned of the necessity to guard the integrity of the faith against those who would differ in any point from the true doctrine of the Church. Even if they admit the whole cycle of doctrine, "by one word, as with a drop of poison" they are able to infect the Apostolic Faith. DH is a perfect example of what Pope Leo warned about. It pays the required obeisance to the Divine Order, and to the one true religion which is the Catholic Church . . . excuse me, which "subsists" in the Catholic Church. It is replete with truisms and platitudes that no one should be coerced into adopting a particular religion. 

     But we find the poison subtly administered in the very first section of DH:

Religious freedom, in turn, which men demand as necessary to fulfill their duty to worship God, has to do with immunity from coercion in civil society. Therefore it leaves untouched traditional Catholic doctrine on the moral duty of men and societies toward the true religion and toward the one Church of Christ.

Over and above all this, the council intends to develop the doctrine of recent popes on the inviolable rights of the human person and the constitutional order of society. (6)

     Notice that the traditional doctrine is admitted, that men and societies have a moral duty to the true religion and Church. Then we read in the very next line "Over and above all this . . ." In other words, above this doctrine, and over this doctrine, and in addition to this doctrine, the Council will "develop" another doctrine, that of the "rights" of man and societies. DH then proceeds to supersede and override the doctrine of the moral duty of states and individuals to the true Catholic Religion and its traditional doctrines, with its newly developed doctrine on religious liberty.

     One little drop of poison, just a few words: "Over and above all this…" "Over and above" in the Vatican’s English version is translated from "insuper" in the official Latin DH, which according to the University of Notre Dame’s online Latin dictionary means: "above, overhead; over and above, in addition, besides." (7)

Kneeling was not in keeping with her dignity!

     A little drop of venom is surrounded and camouflaged by the requisite presentation of true Catholic doctrine, just as Pope Leo described it. Over and above the right of God to be worshipped according to His Will, is the "inviolable" right of man to worship God as man wills: i.e. religious freedom.

     Basic human dignity and human rights have their place, of course, in the Divine Plan, but they are at the service of the glory of God and the salvation of souls. Of what use is a feeling of self-dignity if one is to spend the hereafter in Hell? The weekly Catholic paper of my diocese recently had an item about standing vs. kneeling to receive the Holy Eucharist. One woman, who attends the Novus Ordo, said she would be very uncomfortable kneeling to receive Our Lord, because kneeling was not in keeping with her dignity!

     The dignity of kings, presidents, celebrities and other "dignitaries" will count for nothing before the judgment seat of God, Who is not a respecter of persons. Jesus came to teach salvation by way of humility (learn of Me for I am meek and humble of heart, Mt. 11:29), not via self-exaltation or a sense of one’s worth.

     The spirituality of the great saints teaches that we are nothing and nothingness before our Creator.  Lord, I am not worthy – Domine, non sum dignus. The spirituality of DH is such that human beings must be given the freedom to publicly disobey and ignore the great commandments of the New and Old Testaments, since these are overridden by their inviolable rights of "human dignity" and conscience. 

     The doctrine of the primacy of the worship that must be paid to the true Faith is revised and superseded in DH in much the same way that Pope Pius IX’s Syllabus of Errors was "revised" by Gaudium et Spes, as explained by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in (Principles of Catholic Theology [Téqui, 1982], p. 426):

If we seek an over-all analysis of Gaudium et Spes, we could say that it is (linked with the texts on religious liberty and on world religions), a revision of Pius IX’s Syllabus, a sort of Counter-Syllabus... Let us recognize here and now that Gaudium et Spes plays the part of a Counter-Syllabus insofar as it represents an attempt to officially reconcile the Church with the modern world as emerging since the French Revolution of 1789. (8)

     From the above quote we see that Vatican II attempts to reconcile the Church with the principles that have emerged from the French Revolution, which are none other than the "rights of man," taking precedence over the rights of God and of the Catholic Church which He founded. Notice also that Cardinal Ratzinger says that Vatican II’s revision of the infallible Syllabus is "linked" to the text on religious liberty.

     Let us see how DH’s human dignity and the rights of man override in practice the duty to worship the One God in the True Religion, by outlining a hypothetical example.  According to DH people have a civil right, within due limits, and because of their "human dignity," to worship their concept of God according to their conscience.   Therefore, neo-Aztecs may be permitted to return to worshipping their demon gods, within due limits: which means no human sacrifice.  No one has the right to tear down their idols, but they have a civic right to condemn themselves to Hell. Even religions that blaspheme Christ, and seek to replace and blot out Christian worship, are to be free to publicly propagate their errors.  This is what DH teaches, and the necessary implication is that Jesus Christ, who is head of the Church, also teaches this. 

Dignitatis Humanae is a Modernist Document

     DH is based on the modernist heresy that the impulse to adore and worship God is not due to saving grace granted by a transcendent Being who truly exists, but rather arises from immanent, inner sentiments particular to each individual, experiences which are relative and ever evolving. Therefore all religions are equally valid, which is why they must have the "civil right" to be publicly expressed and spread. (9,10,11). Thus, DH makes no explicit distinction whatsoever between worshiping the true God and worshipping false gods!

     In all fairness to the document, the second half of DH contains an excellent overview of many aspects of traditional Catholic doctrine, and illustrates the great benefits that accrue to the Church when governments provide it with full civil rights.

     But attempts to reconcile Tradition with Vatican II or DH are pointless.  The simple reason is that the underlying intention of the progressivist Council bishops and periti was to undermine Tradition in favor of Aggiornamento and their new vision of what the Church should be.  This is proven by their own admission, in the extensive interviews conducted with them by Atila S. Guimaraes for his monumental series of books on the Council. (12)

     The Church, after Vatican II, now marches under the banner of the dignity of man, rather than under the banner of the humiliated, crucified Christ, a "worm and no man," (Ps. 22:6.) In sum, the religious freedom of Dignitatis Humanae constitutes a great apostasy against the order established by the Triune God.  Can you see the forest now?  

ADDENDUM:  01/12/2010.

[speaking of the Church:] Nor does it assail the rights of God because they are superior to the rights of humanity. (Pope Leo XIII, A Review of His Pontificate, March 19, 1902.)




  1. Declaration on Religious Freedom, Dignitatis Humanae, December 7, 1965,, Section 2, paragraph 1.
  2. Ibid., Section 2, paragraph 2.
  3. Ibid., Section 6, paragraph 4.
  4. John Salza, J.D.,
  5. Leo XIII, Pope, Encyclical Satis Cognitum, June 29, 1896,
  6. Dignitatis Humanae, Section 1, paragraphs 4, 5.
  7. University of Notre Dame, Latin Dictionary and Grammar Aid,
  8. Joseph Ratzinger, Cardinal, quote taken from this site:
  9. St. Pius X, Pope, Encyclical Pascendi Dominici Gregis, September 8, 1907,
  10. St. Pius X, Pope, Lamentabili Sane, Syllabus condemning the errors of the     Modernists, July 3, 1907,   (not at
  11. Dominic Bourmaud, Fr., One Hundred Years of Modernism (Kansas City,  MO.: Angelus Press, 2006).
  12. Atila S. Guimaraes, books by:

 This and similar articles are in the above book,  in print or Kindle format.



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Frank Rega is the author of:  Padre Pio and America,
St. Francis of Assisi and the Conversion of the Muslims,

The Greatest Catholic President: Garcia Moreno of Ecuador
  Life of the Mystic Luisa Piccarreta - Journeys in the Divine Will 
vols. 1 and 2
Life of the Mystic Luisa Piccarreta - volume 3 in preparation
 The Truth about Padre Pio's Stigmata and Other Wonders of the Saint
Vatican II, Evolution, and Medjugorje: Hubris, Heresy, and Mystery


This page was last updated on 06/25/14