Thursday, May 19, 2016


From the Catechism. Headings added.
1. Be subject to authority and give just criticism. Those subject to authority should regard those in authority as representatives of God, who has made them stewards of his gifts: "Be subject for the Lord's sake to every human institution. . . . Live as free men, yet without using your freedom as a pretext for evil; but live as servants of God." Their loyal collaboration includes the right, and at times the duty, to voice their just criticisms of that which seems harmful to the dignity of persons and to the good of the community.

2. Contribute with authorities to the good of society. Fulfill role. It is the duty of citizens to contribute along with the civil authorities to the good of society in a spirit of truth, justice, solidarity, and freedom. The love and service of one's country follow from the duty of gratitude and belong to the order of charity. Submission to legitimate authorities and service of the common good require citizens to fulfill their roles in the life of the political community.

3. Pay taxes; respect, honor and pray for leaders; obey laws. Submission to authority and co-responsibility for the common good make it morally obligatory to pay taxes, to exercise the right to vote, and to defend one's country: Pay respect to whom respect is due, honor to whom honor is due. Christians obey the established laws and their way of life surpasses the laws.

The Apostle exhorts us to offer prayers and thanksgiving for kings and all who exercise authority, "that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, godly and respectful in every way."

4. Disobey immoral directives. The citizen is obliged in conscience not to follow the directives of civil authorities when they are contrary to the demands of the moral order, to the fundamental rights of persons or the teachings of the Gospel. Refusing obedience to civil authorities, when their demands are contrary to those of an upright conscience, finds its justification in the distinction between serving God and serving the political community. "Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's." "We must obey God rather than men".

5. Do the good that is demanded. Defend rights against abuse of authority. When citizens are under the oppression of a public authority which oversteps its competence, they should still not refuse to give or to do what is objectively demanded of them by the common good; but it is legitimate for them to defend their own rights and those of their fellow citizens against the abuse of this authority within the limits of the natural law and the Law of the Gospel.

6. Oppose violation of rights. Armed resistance to oppression by political authority is not legitimate, unless all the following conditions are met: 1) there is certain, grave, and prolonged violation of fundamental rights; 2) all other means of redress have been exhausted; 3) such resistance will not provoke worse disorders; 4) there is well-founded hope of success; and 5) it is impossible reasonably to foresee any better solution. 

The Catholic Citizen's Role in the World. From Letter to Diognetus (dated around 200 A.D.)

Christians live in their own countries as though they were only passing through. They play their full role as citizens, but endure all the disadvantages of aliens. They live in the flesh, but they are not governed by the desires of the flesh. They pass their days on earth, but they are citizens of heaven. They obey the established laws and their way of life surpasses the laws. 

The Christian is to the world what the soul is to the body. Christians live in the world, yet are not of the world. The soul loves the flesh that hates it, as well as its parts. Christians, in the same way, love those that hate them. Christians are confined in the world as in a prison, and yet they are the preservers of the world. So lofty and noble is the position to which God has assigned them that they are not allowed to desert it.

Must read: KNOW YOUR MISSION AND OFFICES: Discover your mission orders and positions of responsibility to change the world -- a one-page leaflet for the New Evangelization

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