The archbishop of Valencia in Spain, Cardinal Agustin Garcia-Gasco, said this week that man has an innate desire to live in freedom, but he also warned of the promises of ideological utopias, which end up destroying man’s dignity and society itself.
In his recent pastoral letter on freedom and dignity, the cardinal recalled that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights warns that ignorance of or scorn for these rights “has resulted in acts of barbarism offensive to the conscience of humanity.”
He pointed out that despite the devastating experience of totalitarianism, mankind is always “exposed to the danger of abandoning his intelligence and his moral sense, and to being carried away by the attractiveness of a collective force that promises ideological utopias,” which end up destroying the person. “When politics seeks to take the place of God it leads to monstrous social practices that destroy human dignity,” he said.
The cardinal went on to note that the human being finds his freedom in God. The Church’s social teaching, he said, firmly proclaims that, faced with totalitarian seductions, “man can move towards what is good only in the freedom that God has given him as an evident sign of his image.”
“The human person appreciates freedom and passionately seeks it,” he said, but the exercise of freedom “implies a reference to a natural moral law, of a universal nature, that precedes and unites all rights and duties.”
Natural law is the light of intelligence that God has infused into man to enable him to know “what he should do and what he should shun.” This law, the cardinal continued, “expresses the dignity of the person and forms the basis for his fundamental rights and his duties.” Human history “shows us that freedom can be enslaved by personal or collective selfishness,” he added.
Cardinal Garcia-Gasco encouraged Catholics to seek out Christ, who “liberates man from the disordered love of self,” which is the source of scorn for neighbor “and of relations characterized by domination over others.” The contemplation of Christ in the Eucharist, he said, “strengthens a culture of human rights based on freedom and the truth.”