“Taking conciliar custom into consideration and also the pastoral purpose of the present Council, the sacred Council defines as binding on the Church only those things in matters of faith and morals which it shall openly declare to be binding.”

Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Declaration of the Theological Commission, March 6, 1964


“The second problem concerns the interrelation of the principles of what is termed art and the standards of morality. Since increasing disputes on this subject frequently arise from false ethical and aesthetical principles, the council decrees that the absolute primacy of an objective moral law must be held by all.

Inter mirifica 6

“This holy synod, following in the footsteps of the first Vatican council, along with that council teaches and declares that Jesus Christ, the eternal shepherd, built his holy church by sending apostles just as he himself had been sent by the Father; it was his will that their successors, namely the bishops, should be shepherds in his church right to the end of the world. So that the episcopate itself, however, should be one and undivided, he placed blessed Peter over the rest of the apostles, and in him he instituted a perpetual and visible principle and foundation for the unity of faith and communion. This doctrine of the institution, the perpetuity, the force and the nature of the sacred primacy of the Roman pontiff and of his infallible magisterium, the synod once more proposes to be firmly believed by all the faithful.

 Lumen gentium 18

The Sacred Council, therefore, not only accords to this ecclesiastical and spiritual heritage the high regard which is its due and rightful praise, but also unhesitatingly looks on it as the heritage of the universal Church. For this reason it solemnly declares that the Churches of the East, as much as those of the West, have a full right and are in duty bound to rule themselves, each in accordance with its own established disciplines, since all these are praiseworthy by reason of their venerable antiquity, more harmonious with the character of their faithful and more suited to the promotion of the good of souls.

– Orientalium Ecclesiarum 5

Already from the earliest times the Eastern Churches followed their own forms of ecclesiastical law and custom, which were sanctioned by the approval of the Fathers of the Church, of synods, and even of ecumenical councils. Far from being an obstacle to the Church’s unity, a certain diversity of customs and observances only adds to her splendor, and is of great help in carrying out her mission, as has already been stated. To remove, then, all shadow of doubt, this holy Council solemnly declares that the Churches of the East, while remembering the necessary unity of the whole Church, have the power to govern themselves according to the disciplines proper to them, since these are better suited to the character of their faithful, and more for the good of their souls.

– Unitatis Redintegratio 16

Moreover Christ, as the Church has always held and holds, went willingly and with immense love to his passion and death because of the sins of all people so that all may obtain salvation.  

Nostra aetate 4

“The four gospels originate from the apostles, as the church has always and everywhere held and still holds.”

Dei verbum 18

Holy Mother Church has firmly and with absolute constancy held, and continues to hold, that the four Gospels just named, whose historical character the Church unhesitatingly asserts, faithfully hand on what Jesus Christ, while living among men, really did and taught for their eternal salvation until the day He was taken up into heaven

– Dei Verbum 19

First, the council professes its belief that God Himself has made known to mankind the way in which men are to serve Him, and thus be saved in Christ and come to blessedness. We believe that this one true religion subsists in the Catholic and Apostolic Church, to which the Lord Jesus committed the duty of spreading it abroad among all men. Thus He spoke to the Apostles: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have enjoined upon you” (Matt. 28: 19-20). On their part, all men are bound to seek the truth, especially in what concerns God and His Church, and to embrace the truth they come to know, and to hold fast to it.

This Vatican Council likewise professes its belief that it is upon the human conscience that these obligations fall and exert their binding force. The truth cannot impose itself except by virtue of its own truth, as it makes its entrance into the mind at once quietly and with power.

Religious freedom, in turn, which men demand as necessary to fulfill their duty to worship God, has to do with immunity from coercion in civil society. Therefore it leaves untouched traditional Catholic doctrine on the moral duty of men and societies toward the true religion and toward the one Church of Christ.

Over and above all this, the council intends to develop the doctrine of recent popes on the inviolable rights of the human person and the constitutional order of society.

This Vatican Council declares that the human person has a right to religious freedom. This freedom means that all men are to be immune from coercion on the part of individuals or of social groups and of any human power, in such wise that no one is to be forced to act in a manner contrary to his own beliefs, whether privately or publicly, whether alone or in association with others, within due limits.

The council further declares that the right to religious freedom has its foundation in the very dignity of the human person as this dignity is known through the revealed word of God and by reason itself. This right of the human person to religious freedom is to be recognized in the constitutional law whereby society is governed and thus it is to become a civil right.

– Dignitatis Humane 1-2

With all this in mind, this holy synod adopts the condemnations of total war which have already been uttered by recent popes, and declares: Every operation of war which aims indiscriminately at the destruction of whole cities, or of widespread areas with their inhabitants, is a crime against God and humanity itself which is to be firmly and unhesitatingly condemned.

Gaudium et spes 80

Complied with help from Gaudium