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Life in Christ

463

A

rticle

2

PARTICIPATION IN SOCIAL LIFE

I.

A

uthority

1897

“Human society can be neither well-ordered nor prosper­

ous unless it has some people invested with legitimate authority

to preserve its institutions and to devote themselves as far as is

necessary to work and care for the good of all.”

15

By “authority” one means the quality by virtue of which

persons or institutions make laws and give orders to men and ex­

pect obedience from them.

1898

Every human community needs an authority to govern

it.

16

The foundation of such authority lies in human nature. It is

necessary for the unity of the state. Its role is to ensure as far as

possible the common good of the society.

1899

The authority required by the moral order derives from

God: “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For

there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have

been instituted by God. Therefore he who resists the authorities

resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur

judgment.”

17

1900

The duty of obedience requires all to give due honor to au­

thority and to treat those who are charged to exercise it with respect,

and, insofar as it is deserved, with gratitude and good-will.

Pope St. Clement of Rome provides the Church’s most an­

cient prayer for political authorities:

18

“Grant to them, Lord,

health, peace, concord, and stability, so that they may exer­

cise without offense the sovereignty that you have given

them. Master, heavenly King of the ages, you give glory, hon­

or, and power over the things of earth to the sons of men.

Direct, Lord, their counsel, following what is pleasing and

acceptable in your sight, so that by exercising with devotion

and in peace and gentleness the power that you have given

to them, they may find favor with you.”

19

15 John XXIII,

PT

46.

16 Cf. Leo XIII,

Immortale Dei; Diuturnum illud.

17

Rom

13:1-2; cf.

1 Pet

2:13-17.

18 Cf. as early as

1 Tim

2:1-2.

19 St. Clement of Rome,

Ad Cor.

61: SCh 167, 198-200.

2234

2235

2238

2240