835. Is freedom of conscience the natural consequence of freedom of thought?
“The conscience is an inner thought that belongs to the individual, like all the other thoughts entertained by that person.”
836. Do human beings have the right to restrain the freedom of conscience?
“No more so than the freedom of thought, because God alone has the right to judge the conscience. Human society governs the relations between human beings through the use of laws created by human beings, while God governs the relations between people and God by the law of nature.”
837. What is the effect of the restraints imposed on the freedom of conscience?
“It forces people to act in a manner that conflicts with their thoughts, and therefore makes them hypocrites. Freedom of conscience is one of the characteristics of true civilization and progress.”
838. Should every belief be respected, even when it is completely false?
“Every belief is worthy of respect when it is sincere, and when it leads to practicing good actions. Reprehensible beliefs are those that lead to the practice of evil.”
839. Is it wrong to offend those whose beliefs are different than ours?
“This demonstrates a lack of charity, and infringes on the freedom of thought.”
840. Is placing obstructions on beliefs that cause social disturbances an infringement on the freedom of conscience?
“You can only repress action, belief is inaccessible.”
Repressing someone from outwardly expressing a belief when those acts are harmful to others is not an infringement of their freedom of conscience, as this repression leaves the belief itself entirely free.
841. Out of respect for the freedom of conscience, should we allow the spread of malevolent theories or doctrines? Should we, instead, try to bring those who are led astray by false principles back to the right path without violating the freedom of conscience?
“Of course, not only is it possible to bring them back to the right path but you should attempt do it so. This should be done by following Jesus’ example, using gentleness and persuasion, and not by resorting to force, which would be worse than the false belief of those whom you are trying to convert. If there is something that ought to be imposed, it is goodness and fraternity, but we do not believe that the means for doing so is violence: beliefs cannot be imposed by violence.”
842. All doctrines claim to be the sole expression of the truth. How can we recognize the one that is most deserving of this title?
“The truest doctrine is the one that has the fewest hypocrites and the greatest number of truly virtuous individuals. In other words, people practicing the law of charity in its greatest purity and in its widest application. This is how you may recognize a true doctrine, because any doctrine that causes rifts between God’s children is nothing but false and evil.”