Life in Christ
legitimacy of every authority: by flouting them, or refusing to
recognize them in its positive legislation, a society undermines its
own moral legitimacy.
If it does not respect them, authority can
rely only on force or violence to obtain obedience from its subjects. It
is the Church’s role to remind men of good will of these rights and
to distinguish them from unwarranted or false claims.
Respect for the human person proceeds by way of respect
for the principle that “everyone should look upon his neighbor
(without any exception) as ‘another self,’ above all bearing in mind
his life and the means necessary for living it with dignity.”
legislation could by itself do away with the fears, prejudices, and
attitudes of pride and selfishness which obstruct the establishment
of truly fraternal societies. Such behavior will cease only through
the charity that finds in every man a “neighbor,” a brother.
The duty of making oneself a neighbor to others and
actively serving them becomes even more urgent when it involves
the disadvantaged, in whatever area this may be. “As you did it to
one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.”
This same duty extends to those who think or act differ
ently from us. The teaching of Christ goes so far as to require the
forgiveness of offenses. He extends the commandment of love,
which is that of the New Law, to all enemies.
Liberation in the
spirit of the Gospel is incompatible with hatred of one’s enemy as
a person, but not with hatred of the evil that he does as an
Created in the image of the one God and equally endowed
with rational souls, all men have the same nature and the same
origin. Redeemed by the sacrifice of Christ, all are called to partic
ipate in the same divine beatitude: all therefore enjoy an equal
36 Cf. John XXIII,
27 § 1.