Life in Christ
[Christians] reside in their own nations, but as resident
aliens. They participate in all things as citizens and endure
all things as foreigners. . . . They obey the established laws
and their way of life surpasses the laws. . . . So noble is the
position to which God has assigned them that they are not
allowed to desert it.
The Apostle exhorts us to offer prayers and thanksgiving for
kings and all who exercise authority, “that we may lead a quiet and peace
able life, godly and respectful in every way.”
The more prosperous nations are obliged, to the extent
they are able, to welcome the
in search of the security and
the means of livelihood which he cannot find in his country of
origin. Public authorities should see to it that the natural right is
respected that places a guest under the protection of those who
Political authorities, for the sake of the common good for which
they are responsible, may make the exercise of the right to immigrate sub
ject to various juridical conditions, especially with regard to the immi
grants’ duties toward their country of adoption. Immigrants are obliged to
respect with gratitude the material and spiritual heritage of the country
that receives them, to obey its laws and to assist in carrying civic
The citizen is obliged in conscience not to follow the direc
tives of civil authorities when they are contrary to the demands of
the moral order, to the fundamental rights of persons or the teach
ings of the Gospel.
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.”
obey God rather than men”:
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.
5, 5 and 10; 6, 10: PG 2, 1173 and 1176.
74 § 5.