Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Andrew M. Greenwell, Esq.

2/12/2013 (3 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Contrary, then, to the good citizen of Heraclitus, the Christian must often be found to fight against the law instead of on its behalf, if the law is unjust.  This is so, even if the unjust law is approved by a majority in a legitimate democratic process.  In such cases, Christians will be regarded "unreliable citizens from a democratic point of view," as John Paul II described it in his encyclical Centesimus Annus. They refuse to play by the democratic playbook, when the democratic playbook leads to bad laws.

Highlights

By Andrew M. Greenwell, Esq.

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

2/12/2013 (3 years ago)

Published in Politics & Policy

Keywords: politics, unjust law, catholic social doctrine, Heraclitus, Andrew M. Greenwell


CORPUS CHRISTI, TX (Catholic Online) - Emphasizing the importance of law for the common good of the life of the Greek polis or city-state, the philosopher Heraclitus observed that the people should fight on behalf of the law as they would for their city wall.  (Fr. 44) 

This, of course, assumes the law actually advances or defends the common good.  What happens when the law itself is in breach of the common good?

According to the teaching of the Church--a teaching based upon the natural moral law--certain of our Nation's laws or of certain of this Nation's several states directly attack the common good. 

Examples of these laws include laws that protect artificial contraception or abortion as a civil right and even advance these intrinsic evils with public funds.  Some of our states, such as Oregon and Washington, allow for euthanasia or at least assisted suicide.  Other laws that fall into this category are those relating to same sex "marriage," such as we find in the States of Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire, New York, Washington, Maine, and Maryland. 

When laws such as these are passed and enforced, it places the Catholic citizen in a quandary.  In a manner of speaking, it is as if the law itself ostracizes him or her from the common life of the city.  When the law against the natural moral law protects vicious acts, rather than promoting virtuous acts, the Catholic citizen as well as other men and women of good will may find himself or herself outside the city gate, outside the city walls.

When confronting such intrinsically unjust laws, the Catholic citizen has no choice but to take up the cross and engage in political battle with his fellow citizens.  Jesus' injunction that anyone who does not take his cross and follow him is unworthy of him does not apply only to our private life, but it also includes our public persona.  (Matt. 10:38) 

There is no such thing as compartmentalization in the Catholic Christian life.  Catholics are not called to be quasi-disciples, but rather are called to be disciples in every part of their lives.  On matters that relate to intrinsic evils and the common good, there is no such thing as "I'm personally opposed to, but . . . ." 

To adopt that "I'm personally opposed to, but . . ." meme is an act of cowardice, a capitulation to secular liberal moral relativity.  It is equivalent to publicly saying about Jesus: "I do not know the man."  (Matt. 26:72)  It is a gallicantu politics, unworthy of the baptized.

To be sure, when Catholics challenge their fellow citizens regarding unjust laws, their response is not always pretty or pleasant.  The intolerance of the self-proclaimed "tolerant" liberal is notorious.  And the liberal intolerance seems to be increasing.

Catholics can therefore expect to suffer for their political witness.  Not only do they suffer under unjust laws, but they suffer from the fact that often the least of their brothers--the unborn, the elderly and the infirm--are being unjustly killed.  They also suffer from the verbal assaults of their intolerant secular liberal fellow citizens which come in all forms: political ostracization, public ridicule, unjust epithets, and legal burdens calculated to restrict our religious freedom.

I suppose the suffering from being outside the law ought not to be unexpected.  The Epistle to the Hebrews notes that Jesus--the Innocent One unjustly condemned to suffer and die a common criminal's death--suffered outside the city walls.  "Therefore, Jesus also suffered outside the gate, to consecrate the people by his own blood."  (Heb. 13:12)

As his disciples, we must not let Jesus suffer alone.  "Let us then go to him outside the camp, bearing the reproach that he bore," continues the Epistle to the Hebrews. (Heb. 13:13)

Contrary, then, to the good citizen of Heraclitus, the Christian must often be found to fight against the law instead of on its behalf, if the law is unjust.  This is so, even if the unjust law is approved by a majority in a legitimate democratic process.  In such cases, Christians will be regarded "unreliable citizens from a democratic point of view," as John Paul II described it in his encyclical Centesimus Annus. They refuse to play by the democratic playbook, when the democratic playbook leads to bad laws.

Why will Catholics act in an anti-Heraclitean way and fight against the unjust law, even if passed by a majority of their fellow citizens?  Why are Catholics considered "unreliable citizens from a democratic point of view"?  Why are we sure to suffer the reproach of our fellow citizens as the laws become unjust?

The author of the Epistle to the Hebrews answers that question also: "For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the one that is to come."  (Heb. 13:14)

-----

Andrew M. Greenwell is an attorney licensed to practice law in Texas, practicing in Corpus Christi, Texas.  He is married with three children.  He maintains a blog entirely devoted to the natural law called Lex Christianorum.  You can contact Andrew at agreenwell@harris-greenwell.com.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


Copyright 2015 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for April 2016
Universal:
Small Farmers: That small farmers may receive a just reward for their precious labor.
Evangelization: African Christians: That Christians in Africa may give witness to love and faith in Jesus Christ amid political-religious conflicts.



Comments


More Politics & Policy

EXCLUSIVE - America, King of Propaganda: U.S. government spends billions to spew LIES to the American people. And guess what you foolish Americans, Congress made it all perfectly legal without your vote Watch

Image of

By David Drudge (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Have we won the ground war in Afghanistan? According to the government reports and the media, we sure have. However, this is not what one whistleblower has said, warning as early as 2012 that the American people are being deceived by the government. LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


'He deserves what he gets:' Latino youths violently protest Donald Trump in Orange County Watch

Image of Trump protestors broke out in a violent riot during his Orange County rally (Reuters).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Thousands attended Donald Trump's Orange County rally - then broke out in violent protest. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The Trump rally in Costa Mesa's Orange County Amphitheater was overflowing with supporters. There were several supporters who couldn't fit ... continue reading


New White House rules leave religious groups open to government abuse Watch

Image of Religious groups question the government's new regulations (Shutterstock).

By Kevin J. Jones (CNA/EWTN News)

The Obama administration's new rule for faith-based partnerships has drawn various reactions: one observer warned they could cause problems for partnering religious groups, while another said the action also strengthens these groups' protections against government ... continue reading


Bill De Blasio's ongoing investigation scandal fails to stop him from new fundraising efforts Watch

Image of Mayor Bill de Blasio won't talk - but his staff will (Wikipedia).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio's closest aides have been issued subpoenas to aid the investigation into his shady fundraising strategies. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The scandal surrounding de Blasio's fundraising has made headlines since 2014, when a leaked ... continue reading


Trump delivers first foreign policy speech, and sounds like a president should! (FULL TEXT) Watch

Image of Donald Trump's first full foreign policy speech sounded relatively presidential, and while short of specifics, was still worth listening to.

By David Drudge (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Donald Trump delivered his first full speech on foreign policy and he sounded fairly presidential while doing so. Trump is not a politician by trade, but he may make an excellent president thanks to his extensive business acumen. Trump is on the path to the Republican ... continue reading


The olive branch and the barb: Clinton vs. Trump Watch

Image of Trump and Clinton came out on top (Shutterstock).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

The race for the presidential nominee has been full of surprises as history-making events, claims of foul play, dirty dealings and controversial statements have cropped up in abundance. Candidates have, at times, been caught up in a tight race, but Tuesday's primary ... continue reading


Trump will be president! Real estate mogul outpacing Romney by whopping 25 percent Watch

Image of Mitt Romney was friendly with Trump when he needed a campaign donation.

By David Drudge (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Donald Trump is on track to win both the primary and the election, according to the numbers. He is on a better trajectory than Mitt Romney was in 2008. Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton, while winning her primary, is losing support. LOS ANGELES, CA (California Network) - ... continue reading


Desperate Cruz and Kasich agree to stop competing, will focus on Trump Watch

Image of Cruz and Kasich are teaming up to block Trump, but their chances of success are slim.

By David Drudge (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Ted Cruz and John Kasich have teamed up to block Donald Trump from winning the Republican nomination. The rivals have agreed to divide upcoming primary states, so they can efficiently spend resources attacking Trump instead of each other. LOS ANGELES, CA (California ... continue reading


Public Bathrooms: Private and safe facilities or free-for-alls? Watch

Image of Apparently, gender-confused children can use whichever restroom they want - without adult supervision to ensure the safety of either gender within the confines of a bathroom (David Bro/ZUMA).

By Thomas Heed (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Men with bad motives or who live dissolute lifestyles have always been potential sexual threats to women - and now women have been pushed further into their corners as "transgender rights" rise to prominence as the newest notion of the sexual revolution. These rights ... continue reading


'We are in a race against time:' 175 nations sign landmark climate accord Watch

Image of World powers finally agree to make a move to fight climate change (Shutterstock).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

World leaders have finally realized the destruction they have been allowing the planet to endure - and the ensuing consequences. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - A shocking number of 175 global leaders gathered at the United Nations headquarters to sign the Paris ... continue reading


All Politics & Policy News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

the FEED
by Catholic Online

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Acts 15:1-2, 22-29
1 Then some men came down from Judaea and taught the brothers, 'Unless ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 67:2-3, 5, 6, 8
2 Then the earth will acknowledge your ways, and all nations your power ... Read More

Gospel, John 14:23-29
23 Jesus replied: Anyone who loves me will keep my word, and my Father ... Read More

Reading 2, Revelation 21:10-14, 22-23
10 In the spirit, he carried me to the top of a very high mountain, and ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for May 1st, 2016 Image

St. Marculf
May 1: Marculf is also known as Marcoul. He was born at ... Read More