Tom Farr on Religious Freedom, part 2

Tom Farr on Religious Freedom, part 2

In his book World of Faith and Freedom, Dr. Farr points discusses the role of the Catholic Church in the “third wave” of democratization (a term he borrows from Huntington). Between 1974 and 1989 about 30 countries shifted from authoritarian government to democracy. Three quarters were Catholic. Huntington suggests that “Catholicism was a force for democracy because of changes within the Church.” The changes involved an embrace of human rights and the Polish “globe-trotting” Pope John Paul II.

Farr notes that teachings on the dignity of the person, and the value of freedom and conscience, already embedded in the Catholic intellectual tradition, would be developed and extended for a new support for human rights. The document from VAtican II, Dignitatis humanae, is the culminating point of the development of the teaching on religious freedom and  human rights. Ironically, as Farr points out, the Catholic account of rights has more in common with the Protestant account of the founders, than the new accounts of the autonomous self.  That is, “conscience is properly ordered, in its interior disposition and its public actions, to the moral and religious truths proclaimed by Christianity.” (105)

In any case, in the preaching of Pope John Paul II, the teaching on human dignity and respect for human rights spread out to many countries across the world, especially having an impact upon the Catholic countries of Latin America.

Farr reports the following as an illustration:

During a trip to General Augusto Pinochet’s Chile in 1987, Pope John Paul II was asked by a reporter whether he hoped to help bring democracy to Chile. “I am not an evangelizer of democracy,” the pope replied, “I am the evangelizer of the Gospel. To the Gospel message, of course, belong all of the problems of human rights, and if democracy means human rights then it also belongs to the message of the Church.”

Multiply that idea by the following numbers. Pope John Paul II has traveled approximately 742,000 miles, according to an October 15, 2002, report from the Vatican Information Service marking the 24th anniversary of the Holy Father’s election as Pope. I will only list Latin American trips:

1979  January 25–February 1 Dominican Republic, Mexico, stopover in the Bahamas
1980 30–July 12 Brazil
1982 June 10–13 Argentina (stopover in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
1983 March 2–10 Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panama, El Salvador, Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, Haiti
1984 October 10–12 Spain, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico  
1985 January 26–February 6 Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, Trinidad and Tobago
1986 July 1–8 Colombia, St. Lucia
1987 March 31–April 13 Uruguay, Chile, Argentina
1988 May 7–18 Uruguay, Bolivia, Peru, Paraguay
1990  May 6–13  Mexico, Curacao
1991 October 12–21 Brazil  
1992 October 9–14 Dominican Republic
1993 August 9–16 Jamaica, Mexico, United States (World Youth Day held in Denver)
1996 February 5–12  Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Venezuela
1997 October 2–5 Brazil  
1998 January 21–25 Cuba 
1999 January 22–25 Mexico City, Mexico

2002 July 23–August 1 Canada, Guatemala, and Mexico.

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