The freedom within our faith

The Church’s declaration on religious freedom Dignitatis Humanae teaches that to be human, “man’s response to God in faith must be free: no one therefore is to be forced to embrace the Christian faith against his own will”.

“God calls men to serve him in spirit and in truth,” the document continues, “hence they are bound in conscience but they stand under no compulsion. God has regard for the dignity of the human person whom he himself created and man is to be guided by his own judgment and he is to enjoy freedom. This truth appears at its height in Christ Jesus, in whom God manifested himself and his ways with men,” it says.


Believing in Jesus Christ and in the one who sent him for our salvation is necessary for obtaining that salvation, according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church. It teaches that without faith, it is impossible to please God and to attain to the fellowship of his sons. Therefore without faith no one has ever attained justification, nor will anyone obtain eternal life.

Faith is an entirely free gift that God makes to man. We can lose this priceless gift, as St Paul indicated to St Timothy: “I am giving you this command in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by recalling them you may fight the battle well, holding on to faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and so have suffered shipwreck with regard to the faith” (1 Tim 18-19).


The Catechism states that to live, grow and persevere in the faith until the end, “we must nourish it with the word of God; we must beg the Lord to increase our faith; it must be working through charity, abounding in hope, and rooted in the faith of the Church”.

Faith is the beginning of eternal life. In the words of St Basil: “When we contemplate the blessings of faith even now, as if gazing at a reflection in a mirror, it is as if we already possessed the wonderful things which our faith assures us we shall one day enjoy.”

The Catechism notes that even though enlightened by Christ, faith is often lived in darkness and can be put to the test. “The world we live in often seems very far from the one promised us by faith. Our experiences of evil and suffering, injustice and death, seem to contradict the Good News; they can shake our faith and become a temptation against it,” it says.

It is then, according to the Church, that we must turn to the witnesses of faith; to Abraham and to the Virgin Mary. “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.

“And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.”
(1 Hebrews1-2)