Social teachings of the Catholic Church: People and Government.

The Church believes that civil authorities are viewed as people who have been given the gift of stewardship from God.

However, civil authorities should dispense their authority as a service, and expected to uphold the fundamental rights of a person. They should not sacrifice the common good for personal gain.

Recognizing this, it is the duty of the citizen to work in cooperation with civil servants to achieve the common good. This duty includes paying taxes: "Pay to all of them their dues, taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due, respect to whom respect is due, honor to whom honor is due."

If, however, the authorities espouse actions that are contrary to the moral order, the citizen is obliged not to follow the civil authorities. "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..."

Armed resistance is legitimate when:

  1. there is certain, grave, and prolonged violation of fundamental rights;
  2. all other means of redress have been exhausted;
  3. such resistance will not provoke worse disorders;
  4. there is well-founded hope of success; and
  5. it is impossible reasonably to foresee any better solution.

Condensed and paraphrased from The Catechism of the Catholic Church 2234 - 2257

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