In human society, freedom does not consist in the ability to do whatever you like, it would be an extreme disorder in the State, which would turn into oppression. But it consists in the possibility, thanks to civil laws, to live according to the precepts of eternal law. For those who rule, freedom is not to be able to command indiscriminately and on their whims. This would be criminal for the Church and very harmful for the State. The power of human laws must be such that it is seen as an application of the eternal law, and nothing is decreed that is not contained in the divine law, which is the source of all law – ecclesiastical or state. Very wise bl. Augustine wrote: “I believe that you see well that that civil law has nothing just and lawful that men have not drawn from this eternal law” (On Free Will, Book I, Chapter IV, No. 15).
If any authority were to decree something contrary to the principles of common sense and detrimental to the public good, this precept would have no legal force, for it would not be a just rule, and would divert men from the good for which society was created. Human freedom contains in itself the need to obey some supreme and eternal reason. This mind is nothing but the very power of God, Who commands and forbids. And this most just authority of God over men not only does not take away or diminish freedom, but rather protects and perfects it.
Indeed, the perfection of every being is to pursue and reach its goal – and the ultimate goal to which human freedom must aspire is God. Because there is true and false freedom. Freedom as the basis of human perfection must be applied in truth and good. And the essence of truth and good cannot be modified by the will of man, nor is it influenced by the nature of things, it is unchangeable. Unlimited freedom is not a right, on the contrary, the Church rejects only unlimited freedom. Everything that can be useful for the common good in the State, everything that helps to protect the people against the arbitrariness of the heads of state who do not care for the people’s good; anything that prevents the unjust abductions of the State to the detriment of the community or the family; everything that concerns the honor, the human person and the preservation of equal rights for every citizen, all this the Church has patronized, as evidenced by the monuments of previous times. The Church has brought freedom to the human race, although it rejects the absolute freedom that is built for individuals or peoples in arbitrariness or in slavery. The Church has willingly accepted the progress made daily in the direction of human and religious rights and freedoms.