The Faraway Land

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'The Faraway Land' places John Courtney Murray’s Vatican II work in the fuller context of his political analysis of democracy and the Catholic faith. When he wrote Dignitatis Humanae for Vatican II, Murray had previously written essays compiled into his seminal book, We Hold These Truths , in which he demonstrated consistencies between American constitutional protections for religious liberty and Catholicism. In Vatican II and in his book, Murray fleshes out political and legal implications of the principle that immunity from religious coercion is a civil right. The paper explores how Murray’s understanding of religious freedom in the two works addresses the divisive and unavoidable issue of conflict arising in democracies that must protect differing moral and religious views and shows how protection of religious liberty functions to keep moral truth in the public dialogue around law and politics. Thus, Murray’s work on Vatican II must not be forgotten because it helps to reconcile the dilemma of civil unity and disunity in modern democracy with the Church’s notion of revealed truth that is held to be binding on anyone who grasps and understands it.


  • Political Science
  • Social and Behavioral Sciences

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