The cardinal added: "Although there are a number of current trends that undermine the proper perspective of human freedom, St. John Paul II highlights two prominent ones. The first we may call 'radical subjectivism' or the exaltation of 'individual freedom as an absolute.'"
"In our contemporary societies, particularly in the West, there is a strong tendency to exaggerate one's personal freedom, to purposefully decouple it from the pursuit of the good, or worse, to make it the only good. As a result, man turns inward, becoming self-referential and, what is good, becomes wholly subjective."
"From there, it is not long before man becomes an island, exercising his freedom, even apart from right reason. The 'highest good' has now become the eradication of any obstacle to 'radical autonomy,' such as the natural moral or divine law. Even other fundamental human rights must be abolished so as to no longer impede the desire of one's choosing."
The other prominent trend highlighted by the Polish pope was "the denial of objective moral truth," Parolin explained.
The concept of objective moral truth has now been replaced by "an individual's personal sentiment or feeling about the moral good," he said.
Addressing the conference room full of U.S. State Department officials, diplomats accredited to the Holy See, and journalists gathered to discuss diplomatic tools for promoting religious freedom, Parolin said: "Ultimately, the decision to root man's freedom solely in the self, without any reference to the Creator, is unsustainable."
"To stress exclusively the expression of freedom of religion as 'freedom from external coercion' without addressing what this freedom is properly ordered to, namely, the discovery of the ultimate truth of one's existence, one's origin and destiny, given by the Creator, is like giving a child a tool and telling them 'you should not use this tool for such and such,' but never explaining to them 'what purpose that tool was intended to serve,'" he said.
The cardinal then went on to quote the Baltimore Catechism: "If I am not mistaken, there is a famous series of catechetical booklets, produced from the one of the Councils of Baltimore in the United States. One of the initial questions of that faith primer is: 'Why did God make you?' and the proper response to be given is 'God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him forever in the next.'"
"The simplicity of this should not obfuscate the profundity of this truth. We are created for a purpose … Without this objective end, an end that exists beyond the self, we cannot hope but to find society in crisis, with each of us unable to embrace anyone but ourselves."