Song of the Day
Quote of the Day
from On the Origin of Civil Power
7. There is no question here respecting forms of government, for there is no reason why the Church should not approve of the chief power being held by one man or by more, provided only it be just, and that it tend to the common advantage. Wherefore, so long as justice be respected, the people are not hindered from choosing for themselves that form of government which suits best either their own disposition, or the institutions and customs of their ancestors.(3)
8. But, as regards political power, the Church rightly teaches that it comes from God, for it finds this clearly testified in the sacred Scriptures and in the monuments of antiquity; besides, no other doctrine can be conceived which is more agreeable to reason, or more in accord with the safety of both princes and peoples.
9. In truth, that the source of human power is in God the books of the Old Testament in very many places clearly establish. “By me kings reign . . . by me princes rule, and the mighty decree justice.”(4) And in another place: “Give ear you that rule the people . . . for power is given you of the Lord and strength by the Most High.”(5) The same thing is contained in the Book of Ecclesiasticus: “Over every nation he bath set a ruler.”(6) These things, however, which they had learned of God, men were little by little untaught through heathen superstition, which even as it has corrupted the true aspect and often the very concept of things, so also it has corrupted the natural form and beauty of the chief power. Afterwards, when the Christian Gospel shed its light, vanity yielded to truth, and that noble and divine principle whence all authority flows began to shine forth. To the Roman governor, ostentatiously pretending that he had the power of releasing and of condemning, our Lord Jesus Christ answered: “Thou shouldst not have any power against me unless it were given thee from above.”(7) And St. Augustine, in explaining this passage, says: “Let us learn what He said, which also He taught by His Apostle, that there is no power but from God.”(8) The faithful voice of the Apostles, as an echo, repeats the doctrine and precepts of Jesus Christ. The teaching of Paul to the Romans, when subject to the authority of heathen princes, is lofty and full of gravity: “There is not power but from God,” from which, as from its cause, he draws this conclusion: “The prince is the minister of God.”(9)
10. The Fathers of the Church have taken great care to proclaim and propagate this very doctrine in which they had been instructed. “We do not attribute,” says St. Augustine, “the power of giving government and empires to any but the true God.”(10) On the same passage St. John Chrysostom says: “That there are kingdoms, and that some rule, while others are subject, and that none of these things is brought about by accident or rashly . . . is, I say, a work of divine wisdom.”(11) The same truth is testified by St. Gregory the Great, saying: “We confess that power is given from above to emperors and kings.”(12) Verily the holy doctors have undertaken to illustrate also the same precepts by the natural light of reason in such a way that they must appear to be altogether right and true, even to those who follow reason for their sole guide.
11. And, indeed, nature, or rather God who is the Author of nature, wills that man should live in a civil society; and this is clearly shown both by the faculty of language, the greatest medium of intercourse, and by numerous innate desires of the mind, and the many necessary things, and things of great importance, which men isolated cannot procure, but which they can procure when joined and associated with others. But now, a society can neither exist nor be conceived in which there is no one to govern the wills of individuals, in such a way as to make, as it were, one will out of many, and to impel them rightly and orderly to the common good; therefore, God has willed that in a civil society there should be some to rule the multitude. And this also is a powerful argument, that those by whose authority the State is administered must be able so to compel the citizens to obedience that it is clearly a sin in the latter not to obey. But no man has in himself or of himself the power of constraining the free will of others by fetters of authority of this kind. This power resides solely in God, the Creator and Legislator of all things; and it is necessary that those who exercise it should do it as having received it from God. “There is one lawgiver and judge, who is able to destroy and deliver.”(13)And this is clearly seen in every kind of power. That that which resides in priests comes from God is so acknowledged that among all nations they are recognized as, and called, the ministers of God. In like manner, the authority of fathers of families preserves a certain impressed image and form of the authority which is in God, “of whom all paternity in heaven and earth is named.”(14) But in this way different kinds of authority have between them wonderful resemblances, since, whatever there is of government and authority, its origin is derived from one and the same Creator and Lord of the world, who is God.
— Pope Leo XIII, 1881
Scriptures of the Day
Authority Given From God: John 19:10–11
So Pilate said to him, “Do you not speak to me? Do you not know that I have power to release you and I have power to crucify you?” Jesus answered [him], “You would have no power over me if it had not been given to you from above. For this reason the one who handed me over to you has the greater sin.”
Obedience in Authority: Romans 13:1–2, 5
Let every person be subordinate to the higher authorities, for there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been established by God. Therefore, whoever resists authority opposes what God has appointed, and those who oppose it will bring judgment upon themselves. …Therefore, it is necessary to be subject not only because of the wrath but also because of conscience.
Christian Citizens: 1 Peter 2:13–15
Be subject to every human institution for the Lord’s sake, whether it be to the king as supreme or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the approval of those who do good. For it is the will of God that by doing good you may silence the ignorance of foolish people.
Seek Wisdom: Wisdom 6:3–8
Because authority was given you by the Lord and sovereignty by the Most High, who shall probe your works and scrutinize your counsels! Because, though you were ministers of his kingdom, you did not judge rightly, and did not keep the law, nor walk according to the will of God, Terribly and swiftly he shall come against you, because severe judgment awaits the exalted—For the lowly may be pardoned out of mercy but the mighty shall be mightily put to the test. For the Ruler of all shows no partiality, nor does he fear greatness, Because he himself made the great as well as the small, and provides for all alike; but for those in power a rigorous scrutiny impends.
Prayers of the Day
That we would be servants of our country, but God’s first.
That the Church will have the freedom to carry out her mission of service and mercy in the whole world.
That the Spirit of Wisdom would illumine our minds and open our hearts, as we seek to know the truth about God and to live in the fullness of that truth.
For our sisters and brothers in the Middle East; that through the intercession of the Apostles, who established these most ancient churches, Christians and all religious minorities would be freed from violent persecution.
That all Christians would have the courage to serve God with our whole lives and to live out our faith with boldness and compassion.
That the Lord would protect all migrants and refugees, and that all those who work with people on the move would be free to serve.
That the Holy Spirit would give all Christians the courage and humility to serve Christ by serving the vulnerable.
That nurses, doctors, therapists, and all ministers of healing would be strengthened by the Holy Spirit in their imitation of Christ’s compassion and care for the sick.
That we would work to build a culture that recognizes and respects the dignity and freedom of all people.