justification of liberal democracy producesnin this book a tension that has apparentlyngone unnoticed by its author. Weigelnrightly criticizes those who want tondemocratize the Church, but he does notnask whether this might be the inevitablenresult of the Church’s having given theologicalnsanction to liberal democracy asna political theory.nThe kind of Catholic to whom Weigelnobjects is represented by the historian JaynDolan. Dolan criticizes John Carroll, thenfirst Bishop of Baltimore, for havingnallowed himself to be spooked by thenFrench Revolution into rejecting “republicannepiscopacy.” Dolan wants a CatholicnChurch that understands “the importancenof creating a ‘republican’ form ofnCatholicism in which the Church wouldnabsorb the new national experiment inndemocracy into its own internal life….nIn short, Catholic Congregationalism.”nWeigel thinks, correctly, that this wouldnbe (is?) bad for the Church.nWeigel criticizes Dolan and othern”revisionist” Catholic historians who workn”to rewrite the American Catholic storynline in order to prop up the sagging causenof ‘progressive’ Catholicism today.”nThese revisionists celebrate the escapenfrom the “ghetto Church” to the enlightenednand progressive democratic Churchnof today. While a “ghettoized” attitudencertainly did prevail among somenCatholics, as Weigel concedes, it was nevernpervasive, and it presents a false choicento say that we must go from an allegednghettoism to a trendy cosmopolitanism.nWeigel argues that this revisionist historynaims to rebut vestiges of the oldnAmerican nativism and its “recurringncharge that Catholicism—as a body ofndoctrine, a matter of personal conviction,nand an institution—was incompatiblenwith American democratic republicanism.”nPerhaps it was once, say the progressivenCatholics, but not anymore: now,ndespite our reactionary pope, we AmericannCatholics are a liberated lot whonthink the same way as every other progressivenand enlightened American.nWeigel’s response to them is that thenCatholic Church, in history and in theory,’isnnot anti-democratic, not anti-nAmerican, not anti-freedom, and not anreactionary barrier to legitimate progress.nIn fact, the Church is an unwaveringndefender of liberal democracy and religiousnfreedom, especially as they are practicednin America. But, he also argues, thenChurch can and must maintain its peculiarnclaim to truth and its structuredn34/CHRONICLESnauthoritative hierarchy, while at the samentime avoiding a rigid “authoritarianism.”nHere is the rub. Weigel argues thatnthe Roman Catholic Church hasnunequivocally stated and defended anhuman right to religious freedom, andnthat in fact, “religious freedom or freedomnof conscience is the most fundamentalnof human rights.” This is a “basicnclaim about the essential core of dynamicnhuman personhood.” The right to religiousnliberty is “most fundamentalnbecause it is the right that correspondsnto man’s most fundamentally humanndimension.” It is crucial to emphasizenthis point. Weigel does not argue merelynthat freedom of religion ought to benprotected by the state because the statenhas no competence in such matters. Henis making a much more basic claim: “Religiousnfreedom or freedom of consciencencan thus be considered a ‘pre-political’nhuman right.” Human freedom inheresnin every man as a result of his humanity,nwithout reference to any political conventions.nMan has a natural. Cod-givennhuman right of religious liberty. Butncuriously, Weigel also asserts that thisnfundamental “right of religious freedomnor freedom of conscience entails an obligationnto seek the tmth.” The first claimnis dubious; the second, though sound,ncontradicts the first.nIf religious freedom really is a “prepoliticalnhuman right,” then it is a right.nBefore God we are indeed free to believenor disbelieve; to reject His law, love, andngrace, or to accept them. That is how Henhas created us. But do we thus have anright to believe as we will? Put differently,nis it “right” to make the wrong decisionnwith regard to the commands of our Creator?nBefore God, is a wrong a “right”?nPope Leo XIII denounced this and similarn”rights” in his 1888 encyclical Libertas.n”If nature had really granted them,” thenpope explained, “it would be lawful tonrefuse obedience to Cod.”nFrom a Christian point of view Weigelnis correct: everyone has an obligationnto seek the truth of God. But this obligationnnecessarily denies a fundamentalnright to freedom of conscience, whichnentails a right not to seek a particularntruth, or any tmth at all. We cannot benobliged to do a thing, and have a simultaneousnright not to do it. The better formulationnis that we have a fundamentalnobligation to seek truth, and thereforenthat the state must protect the individualnin this pursuit. At best, we have anpolitical or civic right, not a fundamen­nnntal human right, to freedom of conscience.nThe individual is bound to seeknGod; the state is therefore bound not toninterfere in that search.nIronically, for John Courtney Murray,nwhom Weigel often invokes to supportnhis argument, religious liberty meantnthat the state is bound to tolerate thosenwho do not believe in a fundamentalnhuman right to freedom of conscience.nIn We Hold These Truths Munay calls thendogma of religious freedom “the firstnof our prejudices,” since it assumes thatnpluralism is the God-ordained order ofnthe universe. While Weigel argues thatnreligious pluralism is a positive good,nMurray says that “religious pluralism isnagainst the will of God.” America isnreligiously pluralist, but from a Catholicnpoint of view this “truth is lamentable.”nFor Murray, the argument for religiousnfreedom is one of political prudence,nnot of theological principle. It isna “general Protestant tendency,” henexplains, to say that “freedom of religionnand separation of church and state are tonbe … ‘rooted in religion itself.'” But thisnidea is not a principle of the CatholicnChurch, which regards religious freedomnas a reluctant concession to a sinful world.n”The Catholic rejects the religious positionnof Protestants with regard to thennature of the Church, the meaning ofnfaith, [and] the absolute primacy of conscience.”nThe absolute primacy of consciencenthat Murray rejected sounds verynmuch like the “fundamental human rightnto freedom of conscience” that Weigelnendorses. By endorsing a fundamentalnhuman right to a free conscience, Weigelnsupplies ammunition to those agitatorsnwithin the Church whom he otherwisenso effectively challenges. The problemnseems to be that those who argue likenWeigel assume the legitimacy of variousnliberal values and virtues, and then comenup with theological arguments to defendnthem.nFor instance, Weigel seeks a way fornthe Church to be authoritative whilennot appearing to be authoritarian. Butn”authoritarian” by whose definition? Innthe liberal-democratic understanding,nany demand that conscience conform tona particular creed (or point of a creed) isnauthoritarian. If freedom of consciencenis a fundamental human right, no humanninstitution including the Church (whichnWeigel regrettably calls a “voluntary association”)ncan rightly abridge it. Authenticnhuman rights ought to flourish, andnthe Church ought never to hinder thatn