Catechism and the Liturgy

What can Caesar expect from a dutiful citizen?

   This part of the Catechism is not written in a manner familiar to Americans, as we put a premium on resistance to authority and suspicion of government, or do we?   

   CAT. 2238: All of us who are citizens are subject to authority, as opposed to chance victims of anarchy. We should regard those in authority as temporary representatives of God, aiding us to be stewards of his creation. This loyal collaboration includes the right and duty to sometimes criticize governmental actions for inefficient or ineffective policies and behaviors, behaviors which harm the dignity of persons or the community's common good.

   CAT. 2239: It is a citizen's duty to collaborate with governmental authority for the good of society in a spirit of truth, justice, solidarity and freedom. In charity, we owe gratitude to the officers of our country's order, peace, and dignity, which is the founding requirement for civic cooperation among all citizens.

   CAT. 2240: The three moral obligations all citizens owe each other, for which government is designed to facilitate, include a) paying taxes, b) voting, and c) defending the country, which is the context without which there can be no peace or justice.

   CAT. 2241: The world belongs to all, and nations are organized to protect and encourage the development of each person's individual talents to produce goods and services to benefit humanity. Sometimes, prosperous nations are obliged to assess their ability to welcome as guests those fellow human being who cannot find security, dignity, and livelihood in their own 


   CAT. 2242: The citizen is obliged not to follow such governmental directives contrary to ordered morality, the fundamental rights of persons, and the demands of the Gospel. It is a response to Jesus' assertion "to give to Caesar what is legitimately Caesar's own," and to "give to God what belongs to him."

   CAT. 2243: Armed resistance to authority is normally not a legitimate expression of frustration or an instrument of change. The following conditions must be met by those who claim there can be no peace until they can have their notion of justice:

       a) There is certain, grave, and prolonged violation of fundamental rights by concrete and explicit behaviors;

       b) All other means of redress have been exhausted;

       c)  Such resistance will not provoke worse disorders;

       d)  There is a well-founded hope of success with clear plans for correcting such collateral harm caused by the                     armed rebellion; and e) It is impossible to reasonably foresee any better solution.

   Your pastor wonders if the American Revolution would have passed muster under such a framework. John Adams and other 1770s revolutionaries claimed that our resistance to the perceived tyranny was a religious act because the existing government was pretending to usurp from the citizens basic human rights which they had received from God, and chief among these was disallowing citizens to participate in the operations of government, in legislation, judicial and executive actions in any usual, secure, and fair manner.

   It was the arbitrary sometimes pretense at order or result driven lack of order that was a perpetual threat and burden to citizens which found their attempts to deal with government and one another to be intolerable.


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