Catechism of the Catholic Church

Life in Christ 541 [Christians] reside in their own nations, but as resident aliens. They participate in all things as citizens and endure all things as foreigners. . . . They obey the established laws and their way of life surpasses the laws. . . . So noble is the position to which God has assigned them that they are not allowed to desert it. 46 The Apostle exhorts us to offer prayers and thanksgiving for kings and all who exercise authority, “that we may lead a quiet and peace­ able life, godly and respectful in every way.” 47 2241 The more prosperous nations are obliged, to the extent they are able, to welcome the foreigner in search of the security and the means of livelihood which he cannot find in his country of origin. Public authorities should see to it that the natural right is respected that places a guest under the protection of those who receive him. Political authorities, for the sake of the common good for which they are responsible, may make the exercise of the right to immigrate sub­ ject to various juridical conditions, especially with regard to the immi­ grants’ duties toward their country of adoption. Immigrants are obliged to respect with gratitude the material and spiritual heritage of the country that receives them, to obey its laws and to assist in carrying civic burdens. 2242 The citizen is obliged in conscience not to follow the direc­ tives of civil authorities when they are contrary to the demands of the moral order, to the fundamental rights of persons or the teach­ ings of the Gospel. Refusing obedience to civil authorities, when their demands are contrary to those of an upright conscience, finds its justification in the distinction between serving God and serving the political community. “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” 48 “We must obey God rather than men”: 49 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 within the limits of the natural law and the Law of the Gospel. 50 46 Ad Diognetum 5, 5 and 10; 6, 10: PG 2, 1173 and 1176. 47 1 Tim 2:2. 48 Mt 22:21. 49 Acts 5:29. 50 GS 74 § 5. 1900 1903 2313 450 1901