Cardinal Zigliara on “liberty of conscience”

At The Josias, Timothy Wilson’s translation of excerpts from Cardinal Zigliara’s Summa philosophica is being rolled out. Hopefully, you’ve bookmarked The Josias to keep up with this fascinating series. Today, an especially important excerpt on the liberty of conscience. A brief, edited selection:

Liberty of conscience, considered in itself, is entirely impious. And indeed, man, by a most strict duty of nature, is held to think rightly of God, and of those things which look to religion, both speculative and practical (33, II). But voluntarily to make resistance to a most strict duty is license, not liberty; and if the discussion, as in our argument, is concerned with the voluntary transgression of a duty toward God, the aforementioned license is an impiety. Since, therefore, through liberty of conscience, a right is given to man of thinking of God as it more pleases him, this liberty, this right is a true impiety.


It is founded in political atheism alone. And indeed, as has been said in the preceding number, liberty of conscience is a right, conceded to individuals, of thinking of God as they should please, or of submitting those things which are of God and religion, and the duties following from these, to the definition and arbitration of individual conscience, which thus is constituted as the criterion of religion.

(Emphases in original.) Strong medicine, especially today, when we hear so much about liberty of conscience and the other foundational doctrines of the modern liberal state.