Free Speech and Civility

On Monday, Elon Musk reached a deal to acquire Twitter for approximately $44 billion. Musk has emphasized the importance of free speech as the social media giant has been accused of censorship, including that of Catholic and pro-life voices. But how should Catholics consider free speech?

Father Edmund Waldstein, O.Cist., a lecturer in moral theology at The Pope Benedict XVI Philosophical-Theological University in Heiligenkreuz, Austria, said the Church teaches that people have a right to freedom of speech.

Waldstein said that the Second Vatican Council teaches that “the juridical order should protect ‘the right to express one's own opinion’ (Gaudium et spes §73).” He added that the right to free speech is derived from the “duty to seek and serve the truth.” 

However, Church teaching does not recognize an unlimited right to freedom of speech. “There is no right to spread lies, or false and harmful opinions,” he explained. “There is no right to use social communications to incite hatred and violence against other persons or groups.” For more information, see this article from the Catholic News Agency.

As you exercise your right to free speech, we encourage you to model civility, love for your neighbor, and respectful dialogue. For more, listen to this past MCC from the Capitol podcast with Archbishop Rozanski, “Civilize It: A Call for Civility in an Era of Outrage” (scroll about halfway down the list).

April 29, 2022 - 1:11pm

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