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The power of the state Print E-mail
By Pope Leo XIII   
Tuesday, 05 July 2011

But that rulers may use the power conceded to them to save and not to destroy, the Church of Christ seasonably warns even princes that the sentence of the Supreme Judge overhangs them, and, adopting the words of divine wisdom, calls upon all in the name of God: “Give ear, you that rule the people, and that please yourselves in multitudes of nations; for power is given you by the Lord, and strength by the Most High, who will examine your works, and search out your thoughts.... For a most severe judgment shall be for them that bear rule. . . . For God will not except any mans person, neither will he stand in awe of any mans greatness, for he hath made the little and the great; and he hath equally care of all. But a greater punishment is ready for the more mighty.” [Wisd. 6:3-4,8-9] And if at any time it happen that the power of the State is rashly and tyrannically wielded by princes, the teaching of the Catholic church does not allow an insurrection on private authority against them, lest public order be only the more disturbed, and lest society take greater hurt therefrom. And when affairs come to such a pass that there is no other hope of safety, she teaches that relief may be hastened by the merits of Christian patience and by earnest prayers to God. But, if the will of legislators and princes shall have sanctioned or commanded anything repugnant to the divine or natural law, the dignity and duty of the Christian name, as well as the judgment of the Apostle, urge that “God is to be obeyed rather than man.” [Acts 5:29] 


 

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