One morning when I was having trouble sleeping I opened and started reading one of my husband’s old philosophy books called The Selfhood Of The Human Person by John F. Crosby. I didn’t make it that far into reading when I found myself in contemplation of the paragraph below:
By the way, one sees on the theological level a parallel work of reception in the teaching of the Second Vatican Council on religious liberty. It is a deeply personalist idea that believers, even when they err, have a right to their belief and to the public expression of it and even to the attempts to share it with others. The old cuius regio eius religio (“the religion of a principality is to be determined by the faith of the prince”) is profoundly depersonalizing, however much it may serve to promote social solidarity. And yet the reception by the Catholic Church of this personalist idea has not been without friction. Some say that the idea is more congenial to the religious individualism of Protestantism than to the Catholic tradition with its stress on the social and corporate dimensions of salvation. Others do not see how it is consistent with being fully committed to the revealed truth. Catholic theologians are still working at the task, not yet completed, of showing how the Council’s teaching in religious liberty springs from the deepest sources of the Church’s faith and how it coheres with all that the Church wants to say about social solidarity as well as about our duty to uphold revealed truth. This is akin to the properly philosophical task of receiving within the philosophia perennis the personal selfhood of which I will speak. — John F. Crosby The Selfhood of the Human Person (1996), 3.
We are called to uphold truth while at the same time respecting a person’s right to believe as they believe. Upholding truth does not have to collide with a person’s right to believe under their own volition even if their beliefs are contrary to certain truths. It is unethical for us to constrain a person’s free will through the use of coercion just so the person believes the truth. It has to be an act of the free will chosen by the person, their choice whether or not to believe the truth. When the person chooses using their unconstrained will to believe the truth this makes their belief more authentic. If the person put on the facade of belief because he was coerced to believe the truth then the belief would be a fraudulent one because the person’s will would have been broken. The decision ultimately lies with the person whether they want to believe the truth or not, and this act should be done freely.