Steven Wedgeworth’s Response to Thomas Pink


The Regensburg Forum is hosting a debate between Thomas Pink and Steven Wedgeworth (a Reformed Protestant) concerning the compatibility of Dignitatis Humanae with the historic teaching of the Church. Pink (famously) says it is compatible because it concerns only the coercive power of the state and Wedgeworth says it isn’t compatible. Pink’s opening argument is here. Wedgeworth’s reply is here. Wedgeworth’s argument is that DH is just too enthusiastic about religious liberty and the fact that it is a fruit of the Gospel for the Declaration to be merely a grudging concession that the state alone has no power to coerce in religious matters – but don’t you worry when we have our hands on the temporal power we will be burning heretics again by right of the spiritual power to coerce (via the temporal). DH does not, Wedgeworth contends, merely observe that modern secular states cannot coerce in religious matters in a…

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2 thoughts on “Steven Wedgeworth’s Response to Thomas Pink

  1. A question not entirely unrelated to the post. If religious liberty in DH simply means freedom from state coercion in religious matters then how is this not tantamount to mere tolerance? I am trying to wrestle with the terminology and concepts employed by Cardinal Zigliara in the translation “On Liberty of Conscience” provided on The Josias; specifically, under the heading of “Liberty of Conscience socially considered” or relatively considered. He distinguishes between liberty of conscience as toleration on the one hand, namely non-punishment or non-coercion, and as approbation, etc on the other. Does DH rather concern what the good Cardinal would have understood as liberty of cult? -Pax


  2. DH is not about the liberal idea that everyone has the right to arbitrarily choose his religion or lack of religion and practice/not practice it. It is about the principle that religion as such is something interior and structurally connected with the dignity of the person and that therefore coercion violates the very essence of relgion. This point is missed both by Pink’s hermeneutics of continuity and by Wedgeworth’s hermeneutics of rupture. Both fudge the facts. We should go with Pope Benedict’s hermeneutics of reform in the unity of one identical subject-Church.


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