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Freedom is as Freedom Does

Deacon Keith A. Fournier
© Third Millennium, LLC
Catholic Online

The great struggle of this hour is being waged - knowingly or unknowingly- over freedom. It is a contest with extraordinary implications. Almost every contemporary concern that we face as Christians can be positioned within this struggle. As Christians, freedom has a specific meaning and it must be viewed within that context. It is a lens through which we are invited by our faith (when fully and properly expounded upon) to view both how we live our lives and how we engage in our mission to this contemporary age.

How one defines human freedom will influence the way that he or she views almost everything. Freedom has consequences. Our choices not only change the world around us, but they make us to be the kinds of persons we become. The very capacity to make choices is what makes us truly human persons. What we choose either humanizes us further or leads us, ultimately, into slavery.

Our capacity to choose reflects the “Imago Dei”, the Image of God, present within every human person. As the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council wrote in their document on the Mission of the Church in the Modern World, "Authentic freedom is an outstanding manifestation of the divine image within man." (Gaudium et Spes, “Joy and Hope”, 17) Classical, orthodox Christians of every community, confession and ilk, must begin to listen closely to those who are using the word “freedom” today. We must ask what they really mean when they speak the word and we must examine their actions.

Freedom is as freedom does.

We need to hear the true voices of freedom in our hour and reject the siren song of the contemporary libertines. I believe that two voices in particular tower above all the others in proclaiming the truth concerning human freedom, its essential connection to truth and its obligations in solidarity to view the other as another self. Those two voices come from Pope John Paul II and his successor, Pope Benedict XVI.

These two extraordinary Christian leaders are being presented by some advocates of a false vision of freedom as archaic remnants of some perceived “oppressive system.” Yet, just the opposite is true. Their message points us toward the future and they are the champions of authentic liberation. To a growing number of Christians, young and old, from every community and confession, as well as many other people of faith and good will; they are becoming recognized as the pristine and prophetic voices that they truly are. The authentic vision of human freedom that they proclaim is exposing the contemporary counterfeit notion of freedom.

The message is that there is such a thing as truth, and that freedom must always be exercised in relationship to that truth. Otherwise, it will lead to new forms of slavery and anarchy. Freedom is as freedom does. Truth must direct our exercise of our freedom to choose. Truth alone has the ability to lead us all to a future of authentic human freedom. It is only in choosing what is good that we experience human flourishing, serve the common good, promote justice and promote true liberation.

The late John Paul the Great was a prophetic voice for authentic human freedom. His successor, Benedict XVI, has stepped into the trajectory that he began, without missing a beat. Together, they give leadership to the emerging freedom movement of this Third Millennium. They expose the lies of this age and tell the truth about its illusory claims to freedom.

The recent news was filled with quotes from a message that Pope Benedict delivered to an assembly of families. He coined a phrase that was heard around the world, “anarchic freedom”: “Today's various forms of dissolution of marriage, free unions, trial marriages as well as the pseudo-matrimonies between people of the same sex are instead expressions of anarchic freedom which falsely tries to pass itself off as the true liberation of man,"

He is absolutely correct.

In that phrase he summarized much of the teaching of his predecessor. This “anarchic freedom” is what Pope John Paul the Great referred to as a “counterfeit” notion of freedom.It can lead to something he warned of in his extraordinary encyclical letter “The Gospel of Life”, the “death of true freedom” One of the overriding themes of The pontificate of Pope John Paul II was his clear teaching concerning - and his insistence upon- a true and authentic definition of human freedom. Only a true and authentic freedom, can light the path for individuals, communities, Nations and the international community to find their way.

Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict are freedom fighters. In their insistence upon the existence of absolute moral truths that are intended to guide all human behavior, they proclaim, in both word and in deed, that the struggle for freedom is the ...

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