5/46.1 Loyal collaborators in fostering the common good.
Scripture shows us how God chooses his instruments of salvation wherever He pleases. To bring his People out of exile the Lord takes hold of Cyrus, a pagan king. The Lord uses political authority to do good. There is nothing in the universe that lies outside his paternal dominion.
In the Gospels Jesus reaffirms the duty of all of us to obey civil authority. The Pharisees and the Herodians had attempted to lay a trap with their question: Was it licit to pay tribute to Caesar? There were those among the Jews who argued that such payments simply reinforced the tyranny of foreign domination over the Chosen People. If the Master were to acquiesce in this payment, the Pharisees would be able to accuse him of collaboration with the Romans. He would thus be discredited before a good part of the people. But if He were to oppose the tax, the Herodians, who were in league with the (occupying) civil power, would then have grounds for a denunciation to the Romans.
Jesus gives his enemies a profound response, which went far beyond their twisted expectations. He does not limit himself to a ‘yes’ or ‘no’. The Master speaks: Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, he says, and to God the things that are God’s. Give to Caesar what rightfully belongs to him: tribute, obedience to just laws ... but nothing more. The State does not enjoy absolute power and dominion. As ordinary citizens, Christians have the obligation of rendering to the state whatever material and personal services are required for the common good. For their part, civil authorities are obligated to act with equity and justice in the distribution of their goods and services. They have to serve the common good without looking for any personal gain. They have to legislate and govern with the greatest respect for the natural law and the rights of people. This includes the protection of life from the moment of conception, defense of the family, religious liberty, the rights of parents regarding the education of their children. The Lord speaks through the Prophet Isaiah: Woe to those who decree iniquitous decrees!
Christians are obliged to pray for those who exercise civil authority. Rulers and governments have a great responsibility to carry out. Christians should fulfil their duties to society with virtually scrupulous exactitude. There should be no more loyal collaborators for the common good than the Christian faithful. This fidelity will spring naturally from well-formed consciences. Their relations with civil authority should become, in fact, a path to sanctity: the payment of taxes, the power to vote, our involvement in associations for public welfare, active participation in political life should that be our calling ... Let us examine ourselves today to see if we are truly being good examples to others of fostering the common good.