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Life in Christ

469

legitimacy of every authority: by flouting them, or refusing to

recognize them in its positive legislation, a society undermines its

own moral legitimacy.

36

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.

1931

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.”

37

No

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.

1932

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.”

38

1933

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.

39

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

enemy.

II.

E

quality and

D

ifferences

A

mong

M

en

1934

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

dignity.

36 Cf. John XXIII,

PT

65.

37

GS

27 § 1.

38

Mt

25:40.

39 Cf.

Mt

5:43-44.

2212

1825

2449

2303

225