406. When is authority exercised in a legitimate way?

Authority is exercised legitimately when it acts for the common good and employs morally licit means to attain it. Therefore, political regimes must be determined by the free decision of their citizens. They should respect the principle of the “rule of law” in which the law, and not the arbitrary will of some, is sovereign. Unjust laws and measures contrary to the moral order are not binding in conscience.


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Paragraph 1903

1903. Authority is exercised legitimately only when it seeks the common good of the group concerned and if it employs morally licit means to attain it. If rulers were to enact unjust laws or take measures contrary to the moral order, such arrangements would not be binding in conscience. In such a case, "authority breaks down completely and results in shameful abuse."23

Paragraph 1904

1904. "It is preferable that each power be balanced by other powers and by other spheres of responsibility which keep it within proper bounds. This is the principle of the 'rule of law,' in which the law is sovereign and not the arbitrary will of men."

Paragraph 1921

1921. Authority is exercised legitimately if it is committed to the common good of society. To attain this it must employ morally acceptable means.

Paragraph 1922

1922. The diversity of political regimes is legitimate, provided they contribute to the good of the community.


Acesse nossos estudos biblicos:

What are Daniel’s visions of the golden image and the four beasts?

What is the message of redemption present in the book of Abdias, specifically in Abdias 1:17?

How does Esther’s story tell the Jewish people’s story of redemption?

What do Daniel’s visions of the ram and the goat in Daniel 8 mean?

The Light of the World: Jesus is the light that illuminates the darkness (John 8:12)

God’s Holiness and the Call to Holiness: What Does the Book of Leviticus Teach Us About God’s Holiness and Our Responsibility to Be Holy? (Leviticus 11:44-45; 19:2)

What is the message behind the parable of the Pharisee and the Publican?

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