Freedom/Liberty vs License/Privilege

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First abuse by Man of his Freedom - by DOMENICHINO - from Musée des Beaux-Arts, Grenoble


yellowdot.gif (100 bytes) Man's First abuse of his Human Liberty/Freedom was by Adam and Eve.
yellowdot.gif (100 bytes) Abortion is Man's Latest abuse of his Human Liberty/Freedom.
yellowdot.gif (100 bytes) The spotless Lamb symbolizes Jesus Christ, Who will later be slain to Redeem Man from all the abuses of his Human Liberty/Freedom.
yellowdot.gif (100 bytes) The Lion symbolizes Satan, who prowls the World seeking the Ruin of Souls.


Lyrics from America the Beautiful
Against License/Privilege


. . . Till Selfish Gain no longer Stain
The Banner of the Free!


. . . Confirm thy Soul in Self-Control,
Thy Liberty in Law!



Freedom/Liberty vs License/Privilege

thomas_jefferson.jpg (4125 bytes) dubay.jpg (18725 bytes) milton.jpe (6961 bytes) sheen.gif (6584 bytes)

from various sources

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Human Being/Person
(A Unity (1) of Body and Soul)




(Dominant Partner)

Supernatural Grace/Infused Virtues and Gifts of the Holy Spirit








God created Man a Rational Being, giving him an Intellect and Will; branding his Heart with Infused Knowledge leading him to Good; and conferring on him the Dignity of a Person who can Initiate and Control his Own Actions. God Willed that Man should be given all the Right Tools (infused Moral Virtues), and 'left in the Hand of his Own Counsel', so that he might of his own-accord seek his Creator and Freely attain his Full and Blessed Perfection by Cleaving to Him. Man is Rational and therefore like God; he is created with Free Will and is Master over his Acts. Every Person on Earth has had infused in their Heart by God, the Grace necessary for their Salvation, and no excuses will be allowed at Final Judgement by those who have Hardened their Hearts to those Graces.


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A "Philosophy-101" look at Freedom - by Father Thomas DuBay, University Professor. Freedom has had the same meaning for Thousands of Years. It is only recently that the True Meaning of Freedom has been purposely distorted to lead Mankind astray. Father Dubay's audio essay brings us back to the root-meaning of Freedom as taught in every basic college-level introductory Philosophy course.

The concept of Freedom brings up in the Mind many Strange and Unacceptable Ideas. Though Freedom is the Common Goal towards which all Men strive, each has his own ideas as to how that Goal is to be attained. For most Men, Freedom is mere License, or Privilege. We think of Freedom only in terms of getting something -- Freedom to have this, that, or the other 'Object of Desire' originating in the Sensual Appetite of the Lower Nature.


License is the Throwing-Off of all Responsibility.
It is a Carte Blanche to do as we Feel.
As such, it is Incompatible with Virtue and Destroys Community.


milton.jpe (6961 bytes) "None can Love Freedom heartily but Good Men;
the rest Love
not Freedom, but License
by John Milton . . .
from Tenure of Kings and Magistrates


shepherd.jpg (7387 bytes) "The Shepherd drives the Wolf from the Sheep's Throat, for which the Sheep thanks the Shepherd as a Liberator, while the Wolf denounces Him for the same Act as a Destroyer of Liberty".

by Abraham Lincoln


thomas_jefferson.jpg (4125 bytes) Can the Liberties of a Nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the Minds of the People that these Liberties are of the Gift of God? That they are not to be Violated but with His Wrath?

by Thomas Jefferson


sheen.gif (6584 bytes) Bishop Fulton J. Sheen said that Freedom is not the right to do what we want, but rather the right to do what we should do.

Freedom/Liberty is not Synonymous with License. Liberty is Freedom exercised under the Restraints of Justice so that its Exercise results in Injury to no one. In contrast, License is Freedom exempt from the Restraints of Justice and therefore, Injurious to others in Infringing their Freedom, as well as Violating other Rights.

When no Distinction is made between Liberty and License, the 'freedom of the strong' can Destroy the 'freedom of the weak', as with Abortion and Euthanasia. For the Freedom of any one individual to be Compatible with an equal measure of Freedom on the part of all others, the Freedom of Each must be Limited, and Limited precisely for the purpose of preventing the Freedom of one from Encroaching Upon or Destroying the Freedom of others. Hence Maximization of Freedom for all, with an equal measure of Freedom for each, is impossible without the Restraints of Justice, which Confines the Freedom of 'doing as one pleases', to conduct that in no way Injures anyone else.

License/Privilege = Freedom of the Strong







Constrained by Virtue of Justice



Yes, to Reason and Divine Law


Exempt, no Restraint


Infringement OK on Freedom of Others

None, Act on Whim, do as one feels or pleases

Justice allows Maximization of Freedom for all,
with an Equal Measure of Freedom for each


Freedom vs License is not a New Thing

From the Vatican's Instruction on Christian Freedom and Liberation we learn that: Man's history unfolds on the basis of the Nature which he has received from God and in the Free Accomplishment of the Purpose towards which the Inclinations of this Nature and of Divine Grace orient and direct him . . . . By obeying the Divine Law inscribed in his Conscience and received as an Impulse of the Holy Spirit, Man exercises True Mastery over himself and thus realizes his Royal Vocation as a child of God.

All Men have this Divine Law inscribed in their Heart as evidenced by Hammurabi's Code of Laws written by the heathen King of Babylon circa 1760 BC, well-before God chose to Fully Reveal His Divine Word in the Person of Jesus Christ.


Man's First Written Laws Limiting Individual Freedom
for the Well-Being of Many

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Hammurabi's Code of Laws (1760 BC) - When Anu the Sublime, King of the Anunaki, and Bel, the lord of heaven and earth, who decreed the fate of the land, assigned to Marduk, the over-ruling son of Ea, god of righteousness, dominion over earthly man, and made him great among the Igigi, they called Babylon by his illustrious name, made it great on earth, and founded an everlasting kingdom in it, whose foundations are laid so solidly as those of heaven and earth; then Anu and Bel called by name me, Hammurabi, the exalted prince, who feared God, to bring about the Rule of Righteousness in the land, to destroy the Wicked and the Evil-Doers; so that the Strong should not Harm the Weak; so that I should rule over the Black-Headed people like Shamash, and enlighten the land, to further the well-being of Mankind . . . . . .

Translated by L. W. King


The First Pope's Guidance on Freedom
[Links to further Papal Guidance included below]

bible1.gif (84494 bytes) Live as Free Men, yet without using your Freedom as a Pretext for Evil(1Peter 2:16)


Freedom and License must not be confused: Freedom embraces Responsibility and is guided by Reason and Virtue; License is Choice without Restraint.

License, as the Throwing-Off of all Responsibility, leads to Absurd and Dangerous Action. On the Personal Level, License leads to Moral Chaos. If my actions are based merely on Whim or the Impulse of the Moment, they are completely unpredictable, even to me. On the Social Level, License leads to Anarchy — the lack of all dedication to the Common Good. This is obviously bad for the community, but License is also bad for those who exercise it. I strive to be Free from Responsibility rather than to be Free to take charge of my life.

License can cause Damage in the very places where Freedom enriches. If License rules in choosing Topic and Method, a history paper might not even remotely relate to history. Athletes cannot succeed in a sport by Acting on mere Whim, for each sport requires Discipline, and team sports demand a High Degree of Cooperation. If the Members of a Society ignore all Restrictions of Law, that Society will not survive. License abandons personal Responsibility and so loses the Creative Energy and Fruitfulness of Freedom.

-Montague Brown, Ph.D.;
-Professor of Philosophy at Saint Anselm College;

-Member Richard L. Bready Chair of Ethics, Economics, and the Common Good

There are many who, under the Pretext of Freedom, seem inclined to reject all Submission to Authority and make-light of the Duty of Obedience.

Freedom, as shown, is the Power, rooted in Reason and Will, to act or not to act, to do this or that, and so to perform Deliberate Actions on one's Own Responsibility. By Free Will one shapes one's own life. Human Freedom is a Force for Growth and Maturity in Truth and Goodness; it attains its Perfection when directed toward God, our Beatitude.

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Adam and Eve - by RAFFAELLO Sanzio -
from Stanza della Segnatura, Palazzi Pontifici, Vatican

Man, enticed by the Evil One, abused his Freedom at the very beginning of History. He Succumbed to Temptation and did what was Evil. He still desires the Good, but his Nature bears the Wound of Original Sin. He is now Inclined to Evil and Subject to Error. Man is divided in himself. As a result, the whole life of Men, both Individual and Social, shows itself to be a Struggle, and a dramatic one, between Good and Evil, between Light and Darkness.

As long as Freedom has not bound itself definitively to its Ultimate Good which is God, there is the possibility of choosing between Good and Evil, and thus of growing in Perfection, or of Failing and Sinning. This Freedom characterizes properly Human Acts. It is the basis of Praise or Blame, Merit or Reproach.

The more one does what is Good, the Freer one becomes. As ratified above by the great English writer John Milton (author of the epic poem Paradise Lost) there is no True Freedom except in the service of what is Good and Just. The Choice to Disobey and do Evil is an Abuse of Freedom and leads to 'the Slavery of Sin'. Man's Freedom is Limited and Fallible. In fact, Man Failed. He Freely Sinned. By refusing God's Plan of Love, he Deceived himself and became a Slave to Sin. This First Alienation engendered a Multitude of Others. From its outset, Human History attests the Wretchedness and Oppression born of the Human Heart in consequence-of the Abuse of Freedom. Remember the words of Saint Peter in 2 Peter: Live as Free Men, yet without using your Freedom as a pretext for Evil (2:16).

Freedom makes Man 'Responsible' for his Acts to the extent that they are Voluntary. Progress in Virtue, Knowledge of the Good, and Ascetics enhance the Mastery of the Will over its Acts. Prudence is a Virtue that directs Reason to Choose Rightly the proper means to attain the end-in-view (i.e. the Will of God). It is the most important of all the Moral Virtues, for it directs all the other Virtues in Choosing the proper means in attaining their respective goals. Without this Virtue one will not Choose Well nor live Rightly as regards the Final Goal of his Life. It is not enough to want to do Good, one must know the means he must Choose to achieve that Good.

Freedom is exercised in Relationships between Human Beings. Every Human Person, created in the Image of God, has the Natural Right to be recognized as a Free and Responsible Being. All owe to each other this Duty of Respect. The Right to the Exercise of Freedom, especially in Moral and Religious Matters, is an Inalienable Requirement of the Dignity of the Human Person. This Right must be recognized and protected by Civil Authority within the limits of the Common Good and Public Order.

The Exercise of Freedom does not imply a Right to say or do Everything. It is False to maintain that Man, 'the Subject of this Freedom,' is 'an individual who is Fully Self-Sufficient and whose Finality is the Satisfaction of his own interests in the Enjoyment of Earthly Goods'. Moreover, the Economic, Social, Political, and Cultural conditions that are needed for a Just Exercise of Freedom are too often Disregarded or Violated. Such situations of Blindness and Injustice Injure the Moral Life and involve the Strong as well as the Weak in the Temptation to Sin against Charity. By deviating from the Moral Law Man Violates his own Freedom, becomes Imprisoned within himself, Disrupts neighborly fellowship, and Rebels against Divine Truth.

By His Glorious Cross Christ has won Salvation for all Men. He Redeemed them from the Sin that held them in Bondage. 'For Freedom Christ has set us free' [Galatians 5:1]. In Him we have communion with the 'Truth that makes us free' [Cf. John 8:32.]. The Holy Spirit has been given to us and, as the Apostle teaches, 'Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is Freedom' [2 Corinthians 3:17]. Already we Glory in the 'Liberty of the children of God' [Romans 8:21].

The Grace of Christ is not in the slightest way a Rival of our Freedom, when this Freedom accords with the Sense of the True and the Good that God has put in the Human Heart. On the contrary, as Christian experience attests, especially in Prayer, the more docile we are to the Promptings of Grace, the more we grow in Inner Freedom and confidence during Trials, such as those we face in the Pressures and Constraints of the Outer World. By the Working of Grace the Holy Spirit educates us in Spiritual Freedom in order to make us Free Collaborators in His Work in the Church and in the World: Almighty and Merciful God, in Your Goodness take away from us all that is harmful, so that, made ready both in Mind and Body, we may freely accomplish Your Will. [Roman Missal, 32nd Sunday, Opening Prayer: Omnipotens et misericors Deus, universa nobis adversantia propitiatus exclude, ut, mente et corpore pariter expediti, quae tua sunt liberis mentibus exsequamur.]

Freedom makes Man a Moral Subject. When he acts deliberately, Man is, so-to-speak, the Father of his Acts. Human Acts, that is, Acts that are Freely Chosen in consequence of a Judgment of Conscience, can be Morally Evaluated. They are either Good or Evil.

Definition of Conscience: Conscience is a Judgment of Reason whereby the Human Person recognizes the Moral Quality of a Concrete Act that he is going to perform, is in the process of performing, or has already completed. Conscience is not the Intellect, it is not a Virtue, it is a Practical Judgment of the Intellect; and Prudence is the Virtue (a Permanent Disposition of the Soul) that Guides that Practical Judgment. It does not stem from Emotions or Feelings.


In Conclusion

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Is this Freedom?

lucifer.gif (13631 bytes) Remember, Freedom means Self-Determination, and should not be confused with License. Those who think that we are Free when we can do whatever we want, make this Confusion prompted by the Father of Lies. No. We easily Lose our Freedom if we do whatever we want, for we may want what is Bad for us. What is Bad for us Limits our Freedom, as Drug-Addicts learn to their Great Regret. So, too, those who are Self-Indulgent soon find that their Passions and Desires for the pleasures of Sex and Food control them. Unchecked, any of our Desires Exercise Dominion over us and Inhibit our Freedom.

True Freedom comes with Self-Mastery and Moral Integrity, which we achieve when all our Desires and Actions are habitually under the control of Right Reason. To be Truly Free the Will must follow the Guidance of Right Reason and seek what the Intellect Rightly Judges to be Good. Moral Integrity ensures that we are always Masters of Ourselves, Self-Determining and Truly Free.


Audio Clip on

by Dr. Theresa Farnan
Faculty, Mount Saint Mary's Seminary