Life in Christ
PARTICIPATION IN SOCIAL LIFE
“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.”
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.
Every human community needs an authority to govern
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.
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
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:
“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.”
15 John XXIII,
16 Cf. Leo XIII,
Immortale Dei; Diuturnum illud.
18 Cf. as early as
19 St. Clement of Rome,
61: SCh 167, 198-200.