"Freedom to Roam" laws


#1

In Scandinavian countries there is a concept know as the “freedom to roam” or “everyman’s right” which basically allows you to enter and even camp on private property so long as you cause no harm or disturbance. Here’s the Wikipedia article: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freedom_to_roam

It offers freer access to the wilderness to campers and hikers. I found the idea intriguing. How does this fall in line with Catholic teaching, though? Does the government have a right to say that you can essentially trespass on the private property of others?

Thoughts?


#2

I suspect that Scandinavians are less apt to trash property than Americans are.

And looking at the article, it’s not a blanket permission to trespass on private property. We have some aspects of that custom here. For instance, we are free to use waterways even if they go through private property. A few years ago a local man got in big trouble when he decided that the river that went through his property was his. He started shooting at boaters. Good thing he didn’t kill anybody.


#3

It seems like a good idea, in the US landowners would have to be shielded from liability lawsuits IMO. IIRC in Texas, the trespassing law states that one is only trespassing if one crosses a man-made barrier or does not leave the land when told to by the owner. That is not that much different in theory. Of course, most private owned land has long been fenced, so it becomes much more different in reality.


#4

It’s a slippery slope that could lead to squatting and unlawful occupation and use of land.

How do the Scandinavians enforce the provisions that prohibit hunting fishing, starting fires. etc? Especially since the nearest police station will likely be several miles away from any rural property.

The right to use roads on farmland for travel purposes is in any case already allowed in law in most countries, including the US.


#5

Well, this has nothing to do with Catholic teaching.
Since governments are the ones that established the private property concept to begin with, of course they can allow egress to property as well. Think about it - the Native Americans that were already here before the settlers did not have so much a concept of “private property”. Governments established this “right”.


#6

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.