Freedom of Speech and the Common Good

I have two questions.

First, is Freedom of Speech a moral right? (Like private property or right to life)

I hold this belief that you can say anything or express in anyway you like insofar as it does not infringe on the moral rights of others? (Vandalism and gossip)

Second, can someone give me a proper explanation of the Common Good as defined by the Church? Or is it the same as the universal definition meaning “The benefit of all people”?


Yes, freedom of speech is a basic freedom. You may freely speak your mind, but always remember that you are not promised freedom from consequences. For instance, I could freely say, “All ------------- are jerks!”. But, others have freedom of speech too and I may find myself assaulted by it!

Do unto others…

Catechism of the Catholic Church

1905 In keeping with the social nature of man, the good of each individual is necessarily related to the common good, which in turn can be defined only in reference to the human person: Do not live entirely isolated, having retreated into yourselves, as if you were already justified, but gather instead to seek the common good together.25

1906 By common good is to be understood **“the sum total of social conditions which allow people, either as groups or as individuals, to reach their fulfillment more fully and more easily.”**26 The common good concerns the life of all. It calls for prudence from each, and even more from those who exercise the office of authority. It consists of three essential elements:

1907 F**irst, the common good presupposes respect for the person as such. In the name of the common good, public authorities are bound to respect the fundamental and inalienable rights of the human person. **Society should permit each of its members to fulfill his vocation. In particular, the common good resides in the conditions for the exercise of the natural freedoms indispensable for the development of the human vocation, such as "the right to act according to a sound norm of conscience and to safeguard . . . privacy, and rightful freedom also in matters of religion."27

1908 Second, the common good requires the social well-being and development of the group itself. Development is the epitome of all social duties. Certainly, it is the proper function of authority to arbitrate, in the name of the common good, between various particular interests; but it should make accessible to each what is needed to lead a truly human life: food, clothing, health, work, education and culture, suitable information, the right to establish a family, and so on.28

1909 Finally, the common good requires peace, that is, the stability and security of a just order. It presupposes that authority should ensure by morally acceptable means the security of society and its members. It is the basis of the right to legitimate personal and collective defense.

1910 Each human community possesses a common good which permits it to be recognized as such; it is in the political community that its most complete realization is found. **It is the role of the state to defend and promote the common good of civil society, its citizens, and intermediate bodies. **

1911 Human interdependence is increasing and gradually spreading throughout the world. The unity of the human family, embracing people who enjoy equal natural dignity, implies a universal common good. This good calls for an organization of the community of nations able to "provide for the different needs of men; this will involve the sphere of social life to which belong questions of food, hygiene, education, . . . and certain situations arising here and there, as for example . . . alleviating the miseries of refugees dispersed throughout the world, and assisting migrants and their families."29

1912 The common good is always oriented towards the progress of persons: "The order of things must be subordinate to the order of persons, and not the other way around."30 This order is founded on truth, built up in justice, and animated by love.

From the Catechism (quoting the Second Vatican Council’s Gaudium et Spes):

1906 By common good is to be understood “the sum total of social conditions which allow people, either as groups or as individuals, to reach their fulfillment more fully and more easily.”

I would recommend reading all of CCC 1905-1912 on the common good.

As for freedom of speech, I would say that it is a right. Here are a couple quotes from Church documents:

All this supposes that, within the limits of morality and the common utility, man can freely search for the truth, express his opinion and publish it; that he can practice any art he chooses;

Moreover, man has a natural right to be respected. He has a right to his good name. He has a right to freedom in investigating the truth, and—within the limits of the moral order and the common good—to freedom of speech and publication, and to freedom to pursue whatever profession he may choose. He has the right, also, to be accurately informed about public events.

EDIT: I see chefmomster already posted that section of the Catechism while I was tracking down the freedom of speech quotes. Great minds… :slight_smile:

You may be able to find the answer to your questions by reading the following:

Mirari Vos - Gregory XVI
Singulari Nos - Gregory XVI
Rerum Novarum - Leo XIII
Libertas - on the nature of human liberty - Leo XIII
Immortale Dei - Leo XIII
Humanum Genus - Leo XIII
Laetamur Admodum - Pius XII

Natural Law

Summa Q. 63
Summa Q. 90
Summa Q. 92
Summa Q. 96

Citivas Dei - XIX
Civitas Dei - XII

if the son sets you free then you will truly be free

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