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Reflections: Vatican View (Obedience/Disobdnc.)

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Reflections: 

Vatican View Section:

Obedience / Disobedience / Assent

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Obedience / Disobedience / Assent

 

Category
Quotation

Obedience / Disobedience / Assent

Note: Obedience is necessarily limited to appropriate commands of lawful authorities. Obedience is not accorded to commands which violate faith or morals.

"Obey your leaders and defer to them, for they keep watch over you and will have to give an account, that they may fulfill their task with joy and not with sorrow, for that would be of no advantage to you." (Heb. 13:17)

"Let every person be subordinate to the higher authorities, for there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been established by God. Therefore, whoever resists authority opposes what God has appointed, and those who oppose it will bring judgment upon themselves. For rulers are not a cause of fear to good conduct, but to evil. Do you wish to have no fear of authority? Then do what is good and you will receive approval from it, for it is a servant of God for your good. But if you do evil, be afraid, for it does not bear the sword without purpose; it is the servant of God to inflict wrath on the evildoer. Therefore, it is necessary to be subject not only because of the wrath but also because of conscience." (Rom. 13:1-5)

"True obedience to the Pope is due from all who are considered Christians." (Pope Pius VI)

"Obedience is not servitude of man to man, but submission to the will of God, Who governs through the medium of men." (Pope Leo XIII)

"If anyone disobey the things which have been said by Him through us, let them know that they will involve themselves in transgression and in no small danger." (Pope St. Clement I, circa 80-98 A.D.)

"As the body must obey the head, so the Universal Church (which is the body of Christ) should obey him who has been appointed by Christ the Lord, head of the whole Church" (As quoted by Pope Leo XIII)

"I am moved to obedience to that See not only by what learned and holy men have written, but by this fact especially, that we shall find that on the one hand every enemy of the Christian faith makes war on that See, and that, on the other hand, no one has ever declared himself an enemy of that See who has not also shortly shown most evidently that he was the enemy of the Christian religion." (St. Thomas More)

"We exhort you in every respect, honorable brother, to heed obediently what has been written by the Most Blessed Pope of the City of Rome; for Blessed Peter, who lives and presides in his own see, provides the truth of the faith to those who seek it. For we, by reason of our pursuit of peace and faith, cannot try cases on the faith without the consent of the bishop of the city of Rome." (St. Peter Chrysologus, Doctor of the Church, circa 449 A.D.)

"Religious submission of will and of mind must be shown in a special way to the authentic teaching authority of the Roman Pontiff, even when he is not speaking ex cathedra. That is, it must be shown in such a way that his supreme Magisterium is acknowledged with reverence, the judgements made by him are sincerely adhered to, according to his manifest mind and will." (Second Vatican Council)

"Take pains to impress on the Christian people a due obedience and subjection to rulers and governments. Do this by teaching, in accordance with the warning of the Apostle, that all authority comes from God. Whoever resists authority resists the ordering made by God Himself, consequently achieving his own condemnation; disobeying authority is always sinful except when an order is given which is opposed to the laws of God and the Church." (Pope Pius IX, "Qui Pluribus", 1846)

"Can. 750 §1 A person must believe with divine and Catholic faith all those things contained in the word of God, as it has been written or handed down by tradition, that is, in the single deposit of faith entrusted to the Church, and which are at the same time proposed as divinely revealed either by the solemn magisterium of the Church or by its ordinary and universal magisterium which is manifested by the common adherence of Christ's faithful under the guidance of the sacred magisterium. All are therefore bound to avoid any doctrines whatsoever contrary to them." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Christ instituted in the Church a living, authoritative and permanent Magisterium, which by His own power He strengthened, by the Spirit of truth He taught, and by miracles confirmed. He willed and ordered, under the gravest penalties, that its teachings should be received as if they were His own. As often, therefore, as it is declared on the authority of this teaching that this or that is contained in the deposit of divine revelation, it must be believed by everyone as true. If it could in any way be false, an evident contradiction follows; for then God Himself would be the author of error in man. 'Lord, if we be in error, we are being deceived by Thee' (Richardus de S. Victore, De Trin., lib. i., cap. 2)." (Pope Leo XIII, "Satis Cognitum", 1896)

"Nor must it be thought that what is expounded in Encyclical Letters does not of itself demand consent, since in writing such Letters the Popes do not exercise the supreme power of their Teaching Authority. For these matters are taught with the ordinary teaching authority, of which it is true to say: 'He who heareth you, heareth me'; and generally what is expounded and inculcated in Encyclical Letters already for other reasons appertains to Catholic doctrine. But if the Supreme Pontiffs in their official documents purposely pass judgment on a matter up to that time under dispute, it is obvious that that matter, according to the mind and will of the Pontiffs, cannot be any longer considered a question open to discussion among theologians." (Pope Pius XII, "Humani Generis", 1950)

"Can. 2331 § 1 Whoever pertinaciously does not obey the Roman Pontiff or a proper Ordinary or another [competent authority] legitimately precepting or prohibiting shall be punished with appropriate penalties, not excluding censures, according to the gravity of the fault. § 2 But those conspiring against the authority of the Roman Pontiff or his Legates or a proper Ordinary or against their legitimate mandates, and likewise those provoking their subjects to disobedience regarding same, are to be coerced with censures and other penalties; and if they are clerics, [they are deprived of] dignities, benefices, and other duties; [and they are deprived of] active and passive voice and office, if they are religious." (1917 Code of Canon Law)

"Indeed, when you submit to the bishop as you would to Jesus Christ, it is clear to me that you are living not in the manner of men, but as Jesus Christ, who died for us, that through his faith in His death you might escape dying. It is necessary, therefore, and such is your practice, that you do nothing without the bishop, and that you be subject also to the presbytery, as to the Apostles of Jesus Christ our hope, in whom we shall be found, if we live in Him. It is necessary also that the deacons, the dispensers of the mysteries of Jesus Christ, be in every way pleasing to all men. For they are not the deacons of food and drink, but servants of the Church of God. They must, therefore guard against blame as against fire." (St. Ignatius of Antioch, circa 110 A.D.)

"The eternal Father, who will never abandon his flock up to the close of the age, so loved obedience, as the Apostle testifies, that to make expiation for the sin of disobedience of the first parent, he humbled himself and became obedient unto death. Moreover, when he was about to depart from the world to the Father, he established Peter and his successors as his own representatives on the firmness of a rock. It is necessary to obey them as the book of the Kings testifies, so that whoever does not obey, incurs death. As we read in another place, the person who abandons the teaching of the Roman pontiff cannot be within the church; for, on the authority of Augustine and Gregory, obedience alone is the mother and protector of all virtues, it alone possessing the reward of faith. Therefore, on the teaching of the same Peter, we ought to be careful that what has been introduced in due season and for sound reasons by our predecessors the Roman pontiffs, especially in sacred councils, for the defense of obedience of this kind, of ecclesiastical authority and freedom, and of the apostolic see, should be duly discharged by our effort, devotion and diligence and be brought to the desired conclusion." (Fifth Lateran Council)

"It is important, therefore, to give them a clear idea of the foundation of the Church - a foundation, without which the Church could not exist, and upon which they must rest, if they would preserve in the faith wherein they have been baptized. They cannot obtain salvation unless they keep their faith inviolate. Now they alone have this firm and pure faith who are docile to the teachings of Peter, and recognize him as the rock on which our Lord has built his Church. In the episode related in our Gospel (Jn. xx), we are taught by an Apostle what respect and deference are due to him whom Christ appointed to feed both lambs and sheep (Jn. xxi 15, 17), that is, the whole flock. Peter and John run together to the sepulchre; John, the younger of the two, arrives there before Peter; he looks in, but does not enter. What means this humble reserve of the disciple who was so specially beloved of Jesus? For whom does he wait? He waits for him, whom the Master has placed over all, and who is to act as their head. Peter, at length, comes to the sepulchre; he goes in; he examines the holy place; and then John also enters. It is John himself who writes this, and gives us the admirable instruction embodied in what he relates. Yes, it is for Peter to lead the way, and judge, and decide as master; it is the Christian's duty to follow him, to listen to his teachings, to honor and obey him. How can we have any difficulty in doing this, when we see an Apostle, and such an Apostle, behaving thus to Peter, and this, too, at a time when Peter had received the promise only of the keys of the kingdom of heaven, which were not really given to him until some days after?" (Gueranger)

"In defining the limits of the obedience owed to the pastors of souls, but most of all to the authority of the Roman Pontiff, it must not be supposed that it is only to be yielded in relation to dogmas of which the obstinate denial cannot be disjoined from the crime of heresy. Nay, further, it is not enough sincerely and firmly to assent to doctrines which, though not defined by any solemn pronouncement of the Church, are by her proposed to belief, as divinely revealed, in her common and universal teaching, and which the [First] Vatican Council declared are to be believed 'with Catholic and divine faith.' But this likewise must be reckoned amongst the duties of Christians, that they allow themselves to be ruled and directed by the authority and leadership of bishops, and, above all, of the apostolic see. And how fitting it is that this should be so any one can easily perceive. For the things contained in the divine oracles have reference to God in part, and in part to man, and to whatever is necessary for the attainment of his eternal salvation. Now, both these, that is to say, what we are bound to believe and what we are obliged to do, are laid down, as we have stated, by the Church using her divine right, and in the Church by the supreme Pontiff. Wherefore it belongs to the Pope to judge authoritatively what things the sacred oracles contain, as well as what doctrines are in harmony, and what in disagreement, with them; and also, for the same reason, to show forth what things are to be accepted as right, and what to be rejected as worthless; what it is necessary to do and what to avoid doing, in order to attain eternal salvation. For, otherwise, there would be no sure interpreter of the commands of God, nor would there be any safe guide showing man the way he should live." (Pope Leo XIII, "Sapientiae Christianae", 1890)

"But as this heavenly doctrine was never left to the arbitrary judgment of private individuals, but, in the beginning delivered by Jesus Christ, was afterwards committed by Him exclusively to the Magisterium already named, so the power of performing and administering the divine mysteries, together with the authority of ruling and governing, was not bestowed by God on all Christians indiscriminately, but on certain chosen persons. For to the Apostles and their legitimate successors alone these words have reference: 'Going into the whole world preach the Gospel.' 'Baptizing them.' 'Do this in commemoration of Me.' 'Whose sins you shall forgive they are forgiven them.' And in like manner He ordered the Apostles only and those who should lawfully succeed them to feed - that is to govern with authority - all Christian souls. Whence it also follows that it is necessarily the duty of Christians to be subject and to obey. And these duties of the Apostolic office are, in general, all included in the words of St. Paul: 'Let a man so account of us as of the ministers of Christ, and the dispensers of the mysteries of God' (I Cor. iv., I). Wherefore Jesus Christ bade all men, present and future, follow Him as their leader and Savior; and this, not merely as individuals, but as forming a society, organized and united in mind. In this way a duly constituted society should exist, formed out of the divided multitude of peoples, one in faith, one in end, one in the participation of the means adapted to the attainment of the end, and one as subject to one and the same authority. To this end He established in the Church all principles which necessarily tend to make organized human societies, and through which they attain the perfection proper to each. That is, in it (the Church), all who wished to be the sons of God by adoption might attain to the perfection demanded by their high calling, and might obtain salvation. The Church, therefore, as we have said, is man's guide to whatever pertains to Heaven. This is the office appointed unto it by God: that it may watch over and may order all that concerns religion, and may, without let or hindrance, exercise, according to its judgment, its charge over Christianity." (Pope Leo XIII, "Satis Cognitum", 1896)

"Christian faith reposes not on human but on divine authority, for what God has revealed 'we believe not on account of the intrinsic evidence of the truth perceived by the natural light of our reason, but on account of the authority of God revealing, who cannot be deceived nor Himself deceive.' It follows as a consequence that whatever things are manifestly revealed by God we must receive with a similar and equal assent. To refuse to believe any one of them is equivalent to rejecting them all, for those at once destroy the very groundwork of faith who deny that God has spoken to men, or who bring into doubt His infinite truth and wisdom. To determine, however, which are the doctrines divinely revealed belongs to the teaching Church, to whom God has entrusted the safekeeping and interpretation of His utterances. But the supreme teacher in the Church is the Roman Pontiff. Union of minds, therefore, requires, together with a perfect accord in the one faith, complete submission and obedience of will to the Church and to the Roman Pontiff, as to God Himself. This obedience should, however, be perfect, because it is enjoined by faith itself, and has this in common with faith, that it cannot be given in shreds; nay, were it not absolute and perfect in every particular, it might wear the name of obedience, but its essence would disappear. Christian usage attaches such value to this perfection of obedience that it has been, and will ever be, accounted the distinguishing mark by which we are able to recognize Catholics. Admirably does the following passage from St. Thomas Aquinas set before us the right view: 'The formal object of faith is primary truth, as it is shown forth in the holy Scriptures, and in the teaching of the Church, which proceeds from the fountainhead of truth. It follows, therefore, that he who does not adhere, as to an infallible divine rule, to the teaching of the Church, which proceeds from the primary truth manifested in the holy Scriptures, possesses not the habit of faith; but matters of faith he holds otherwise than true faith. Now, it is evident that he who clings to the doctrines of the Church as to an infallible rule yields his assent to everything the Church teaches; but otherwise, if with reference to what the Church teaches he holds what he likes but does not hold what he does not like, he adheres not to the teaching of the Church as to an infallible rule, but to his own will.'" (Pope Leo XIII, "Sapientiae Christianae", 1890 A.D.)

"When about to ascend into heaven He sends His Apostles in virtue of the same power by which He had been sent from the Father; and he charges them to spread abroad and propagate His teaching. 'All power is given to Me in Heaven and in earth. Going therefore teach all nations...teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you' (Matt. xxviii., 18-20). So that those obeying the Apostles might be saved, and those disobeying should perish. 'He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, but he that believed not shall be condemned' (Mark xvi., 16)... Hence He commands that the teaching of the Apostles should be religiously accepted and piously kept as if it were His own - 'He who hears you hears Me, he who despises you despises Me' (Luke x., 16). Wherefore the Apostles are ambassadors of Christ as He is the ambassador of the Father. 'As the Father sent Me so also I send you' (John xx., 21). Hence as the Apostles and Disciples were bound to obey Christ, so also those whom the Apostles taught were, by God's command, bound to obey them. And, therefore, it was no more allowable to repudiate one iota of the Apostles' teaching than it was to reject any point of the doctrine of Christ Himself. Truly the voice of the Apostles, when the Holy Ghost had come down upon them, resounded throughout the world. Wherever they went they proclaimed themselves the ambassadors of Christ Himself. 'By whom (Jesus Christ) we have received grace and Apostleship for obedience to the faith in all nations for His name' (Rom. i., 5). And God makes known their divine mission by numerous miracles. 'But they going forth preached everywhere: the Lord working withal, and confirming the word with signs that followed' (Mark xvi., 20)... [T]he Apostolic mission was not destined to die with the Apostles themselves, or to come to an end in the course of time, since it was intended for the people at large and instituted for the salvation of the human race. For Christ commanded His Apostles to preach the 'Gospel to every creature, to carry His name to nations and kings, and to be witnesses to him to the ends of the earth.' He further promised to assist them in the fulfillment of their high mission, and that, not for a few years or centuries only, but for all time - 'even to the consummation of the world.' ... But how could all this be realized in the Apostles alone, placed as they were under the universal law of dissolution by death? It was consequently provided by God that the Magisterium instituted by Jesus Christ should not end with the life of the Apostles, but that it should be perpetuated. We see it in truth propagated, and, as it were, delivered from hand to hand. For the Apostles consecrated bishops, and each one appointed those who were to succeed them immediately 'in the ministry of the word.' Nay more: they likewise required their successors to choose fitting men, to endow them with like authority, and to confide to them the office and mission of teaching. 'Thou, therefore, my son, be strong in the grace which is in Christ Jesus: and the things which thou hast heard of me by many witnesses, the same command to faithful men, who shall be fit to teach others also' (2 Tim. ii., 1-2). Wherefore, as Christ was sent by God and the Apostles by Christ, so the Bishops and those who succeeded them were sent by the Apostles. 'The Apostles were appointed by Christ to preach the Gospel to us. Jesus Christ was sent by God. Christ is therefore from God, and the Apostles from Christ, and both according to the will of God...Preaching therefore the word through the countries and cities, when they had proved in the Spirit the first-fruits of their teaching they appointed bishops and deacons for the faithful...They appointed them and then ordained them, so that when they themselves had passed away other tried men should carry on their ministry' (S. Clemens Rom. Epist. I ad Corinth. capp. 42, 44). On the one hand, therefore, it is necessary that the mission of teaching whatever Christ had taught should remain perpetual and immutable, and on the other that the duty of accepting and professing all their doctrine should likewise be perpetual and immutable. 'Our Lord Jesus Christ, when in His Gospel He testifies that those who not are with Him are His enemies, does not designate any special form of heresy, but declares that all heretics who are not with Him and do not gather with Him scatter His flock and are His adversaries: He that is not with Me is against Me, and he that gathereth not with Me scattereth' (S. Cyprianus, Ep. lxix., ad Magnum, n. I)." (Pope Leo XIII, "Satis Cognitum", 1896)

"The nature of this supreme authority, which all Christians are bound to obey, can be ascertained only by finding out what was the evident and positive will of Christ. Certainly Christ is a King forever; and though invisible, He continues unto the end of time to govern and guard His Church from Heaven. But since He willed that His kingdom should be visible He was obliged, when He ascended into Heaven, to designate a vice-regent on earth. 'Should anyone say that Christ is the one head and the one shepherd, the one spouse of the one Church, he does not give an adequate reply. It is clear, indeed, that Christ is the author of grace in the Sacraments of the Church; it is Christ Himself who baptizes; it is He who forgives sins; it is He who is the true priest who hath offered Himself upon the altar of the cross, and it is by His power that His body is daily consecrated upon the altar; and still, because He was not to be visibly present to all the faithful, He made choice of ministers through whom the aforesaid Sacraments should be dispensed to the faithful as said above' (cap. 74). 'For the same reason, therefore, because He was about to withdraw His visible presence from the Church, it was necessary that He should appoint someone in His place, to have the charge of the Universal Church. Hence before His Ascension He said to Peter: 'Feed my sheep'' (St. Thomas, Contra Gentiles, lib. iv., cap. 76). Jesus Christ, therefore, appointed Peter to be that head of the Church; and He also determined that the authority instituted in perpetuity for the salvation of all should be inherited by His successors, in whom the same permanent authority of Peter himself should continue. And so He made that remarkable promise to Peter and to no one else: 'Thou are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church' (Matt. xvi., 18). 'To Peter the Lord spoke: to one, therefore, that He might establish unity upon one' (S. Pacianus ad Sempronium, Ep. iii., n. 11). 'Without any prelude He mentions St. Peter's name and that of his father (Blessed art thou Simon, son of John) and He does not wish Him to be called any more Simon; claiming him for Himself according to His divine authority He aptly names him Peter, from petra the rock, since upon him He was about to found His Church' (S. Cyrillus Alexandrinus, In Evang. Joan., lib. ii., in cap. i., v. 42). From this text it is clear that by the will and command of God the Church rests upon St. Peter, just as a building rests on its foundation. Now the proper nature of a foundation is to be a principle of cohesion for the various parts of the building. It must be the necessary condition of stability and strength. Remove it and the whole building falls. It is consequently the office of St. Peter to support the Church, and to guard it in all its strength and indestructible unity. How could he fulfill this office without the power of commanding, forbidding, and judging, which is properly called jurisdiction? It is only by this power of jurisdiction that nations and commonwealths are held together. A primacy of honor and the shadowy right of giving advice and admonition, which is called direction, could never secure to any society of men unity or strength. The words - and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it - proclaim and establish the authority of which we speak. 'What is the it?' (writes Origen). 'Is it the rock upon which Christ builds the Church or the Church? The expression indeed is ambiguous, as if the rock and the Church were one and the same. I indeed think that this is so, and that neither against the rock upon which Christ builds His Church nor against the Church shall the gates of Hell prevail' (Origenes, Comment. in Matt., tom. xii., n. ii). The meaning of this divine utterance is, that, notwithstanding the wiles and intrigues which they bring to bear against the Church, it can never be that the Church committed to the care of Peter shall succumb or in any wise fail. 'For the Church, as the edifice of Christ who has wisely built 'His house upon a rock,' cannot be conquered by the gates of Hell, which may prevail over any man who shall be off the rock and outside the Church, but shall be powerless against it' (Ibid.). Therefore God confided His Church to Peter so that he might safely guard it with his unconquerable power. He invested him, therefore, with the needful authority; since the right to rule is absolutely required by him who has to guard human society really and effectively. This, furthermore, Christ gave: 'To thee will I give the keys of the kingdom of Heaven.' And He is clearly still speaking of the Church, which a short time before He had called His own, and which He declared He wished to build on Peter as a foundation. The Church is typified not only as an edifice but as a Kingdom, and every one knows that the keys constitute the usual sign of governing authority. Wherefore when Christ promised to give to Peter the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, he promised to give him power and authority over the Church. 'The Son committed to Peter the office of spreading the knowledge of His Father and Himself over the whole world. He who increased the Church on all the earth, and proclaimed it to be stronger than the heavens, gave to a mortal man all power in Heaven when He handed him the Keys' (S. Johannes Chrysostomus, Hom. liv., in Matt. v., 2). In this same sense He says: 'Whatsoever thou shall bind upon earth it shall be bound also in Heaven, and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth it shall be loosed also in Heaven.' This metaphorical expression of binding and loosing indicates the power of making laws, of judging and of punishing; and the power is said to be of such amplitude and force that God will ratify whatever is decreed by it. Thus it is supreme and absolutely independent, so that, having no other power on earth as its superior, it embraces the whole Church and all things committed to the Church. The promise is carried out when Christ the Lord after His Resurrection, having thrice asked Peter whether he loved Him more than the rest, lays on him the injunction: 'Feed my lambs - feed my sheep.' That is He confides to him, without exception, all those who were to belong to His fold. 'The Lord does not hesitate. He interrogates, not to learn but to teach. When He was about to ascend into Heaven He left us, as it were, a vice-regent of His love...and so because Peter alone of all others professes his love he is preferred to all - that being the most perfect he should govern the more perfect' (S. Ambrosius, Exposit. in Evang. secundum Lucam, lib. x., nn. 175-176). These, then, are the duties of a shepherd: to place himself as leader at the head of his flock, to provide proper food for it, to ward off dangers, to guard against insidious foes, to defend it against violence: in a word to rule and govern it. Since therefore Peter has been placed as shepherd of the Christian flock he has received the power of governing all men for whose salvation Jesus Christ shed His blood." (Pope Leo XIII, "Satis Cognitum", 1896)

Also See: All Should Agree With the Holy See | The Church is Not a Democracy | The Church Rests on St. Peter | Duties of the Faithful to the Holy See | Infallibility | National Churches May Not Be Separate from the Authority of the Roman Pontiff | Necessity of Union With the Roman Pontiff | Papal Primacy / Supremacy | Preservation of Truth / Unity | Those Who Condemn or Judge Dogmas / Decrees of the Apostolic See | Those Who Wander From the Apostolic See Wander From the Church | Unlawful to Make Recourse Against the Roman Pontiff to an Ecumenical Council

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