Text Size

How to Build a Happy Nation

How to Build a Happy Nation
Joint Pastoral Letter of the Catholic Bishops of Nyasaland
20 March 1961

Introduction

Dearly beloved Brethren,

The events of recent months have provoked a certain amount of confusion in the minds of the faithful, confusion which is harmful not only to the souls of individuals but also to the steady and harmonious march of the Community towards freedom and happiness.

Desiring nothing better than that this country and its people should be free, enlightened, prosperous, great, and happy [1] and mindful of our obligation to teach, govern in things spiritual, and administer the patrimony of sanctification committed to us by the Author of all, sanctity Himself, [2] we, the Ordinaries of Nyasaland, think it our duty to put before you certain principles to enlighten and guide you in the building up of a happy community.

Most earnestly do we beg of you, dear Brethren, to read and study this letter, calmly, without any prejudice, loyally and honestly trying to find in it the means of pooling our common efforts to build up a happy and prosperous country in which all will be content to live and of which all will be justly proud.

Such is the spirit in which this letter is written.

  1. God, Our Father, created man, body and soul, in His own image and likeness and placed him in this world to know Him, to love Him and to serve Him. It is by living as true children of God that men will find in this life some part of the happiness for which they were created and for which they long, a happiness which they will enjoy in full measure in heaven.

  2. But in God's plan, man is not an individual only. He is by nature a social being who cannot live and perfect himself except in the society of his fellow men. In fact, man belongs normally to three societies, each with its own divinely established rights, duties and functions: the family, the State and the Church. These societies are distinct one from the other but are, nevertheless, designed by God to work together in harmony for the full development and happiness of man. Unfortunately, when this divine and unchangeable plan is not fully understood or completely accepted, conflicts may arise particularly between Church and State, and this to the detriment of all.

    To prevent such conflicts, as far as in our power lies, we here set down certain principles concerning the Church and the State.

  3. Nature of State and Church

  4. The State is the stable union of families or individuals, in a determined territory, united under the same supreme authority, in order to obtain that plenitude of life and that sage enjoyment of rights which ensure the attainment of man's complete and perfect end in the natural order.[3] The State, then, is a natural, human and perfect society directly ordained for the temporal welfare of all. [4]

  5. The Church is a visible supernatural society founded by Christ which consists of living members, professing the same Christian faith, sharing the same spiritual means in order to attain man's complete and perfect end in the supernatural order. The Church is then a spiritual, supernatural and perfect society directly ordained for the eternal salvation of its members.

  6. This distinction between the natural order and the supernatural order - the essential basis of relations between Church and State - has been strongly emphasized by recent Popes. Pius XI reminds us that "there is a natural law written by the hand of the Creator Himself in the human heart, and. human reason, when not blinded by sin and passion, can read there."[5] All positive law stems from this natural law which is perfectly concordant with the character and aims of the State. Pius XII declared that the common good which the State is bound to foster does not find its complete realisation in the material prosperity of society but rather in the "harmonious development and natural perfection of man for whom the Creator destined society as a means to this end."[6] It is primordial to place the sovereignty of the State on a human plane distinct from that of the Church, for on the recognition of this fact depends the maintenance of peace between the spiritual and the temporal order. [7]

  7. Origin of State and Church

  8. Both societies, State and Church, perfect in their order, come from God: the former indirectly when God created man naturally sociable; the latter directly when Christ, its Founder and Head, delegated His authority over the Church on earth to St. Peter: "Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." (Matt. 16:18), and again "Behold, I am with you all days unto the consummation of the world." (Matt. 28:20).

  9. Two Consequences of this Common Origin

  10. God made man to live in society with his fellowmen so that he may, by association with them, overcome the shortcomings of his nature and, with their assistance, attain what he alone, if left to himself, would fail to attain. Consequently, civil society must acknowledge God as its Founder and Father and must obey and reverence His power and authority. Justice therefore and reason itself forbid the State to be godless or to adopt a course of action which would end in godlessness." [8]

    On the other hand, religion by its very nature can give tremendous help to the State, for this reason: it derives the origin of all power directly from God Himself [9] and strictly admonishes rulers to be mindful of their duty, to govern without injustice or severity, to rule their people kindly and paternally; it also admonishes subjects to be obedient to lawful authority as to the ministers of God, binding them to their rulers not merely by obedience but also by reverence and affection. Religion forbids sedition and all hazardous undertakings calculated to disturb public order and tranquillity which cause greater restrictions to be put on the liberty of the people. It is superfluous to mention how strongly religion conduces to pure morals and pure morals to liberty. The higher the morality in a State, the greater the liberty and wealth and power it enjoys. This fact is proved by reason and confirmed by history.[10]

    Hence it follows that the State not only may not put religion aside but has certain specific duties towards it. It must take into account the fact that here in Nyasaland the great majority of the people believe in God, accept their dependence on Him and acknowledge their duties towards Him. They cannot conceive their common good (which it is the duty of the State to foster) apart from their religious beliefs which are part of themselves.

    The State, then, has the duty to care for religion. It cannot behave as if there were no God, and as if there were no such things as man's spiritual aspirations. This would be acting against the natural law.

    On the other hand, the State has no right over the religious convictions of its subjects. It has been established by God over the temporal sphere and to legislate in one way or another on religion is entirely outside its competence.

  11. Relationship of the State to the Church

  12. By birth or adoption we become citizens of an earthly state, by baptism we are born again as subjects of the Church, the kingdom of God upon earth. In his efforts to attain both natural and supernatural happiness, every Catholic is subject to a double authority. This constant teaching of the Church has been clearly stated by Leo XIII in these words:

    The Almighty has apportioned the charge of men to two powers, one ecclesiastical, the other civil; the former dealing with matters of the soul, the latter with temporal affairs. Each in its kind is supreme, each has fixed limits within which it is contained. These limits are defined by the nature and special object of each of these powers, so that there is, as it were, an orbit traced out within which the action of each is brought into play by its own natural right. Whatever in things human is of a sacred character, whatever pertains to the salvation of souls or the worship of God is subject to the authority and judgement of the Church. Whatever is assigned to the civil and political sphere is rightly subject to the civil authority. Jesus Christ Himself has commanded that what is Ceasar's is to be rendered to Ceasar, and that whatever belongs to God is to be rendered to God.[11]

    Hence there should be no conflict between the Church and the State since their respective spheres are quite distinct. But,

    though the civil authority has not the same proximate end as the spiritual power, does not proceed along the same lines nor uses the same means, nevertheless, in the exercise of their separate powers they must occasionally meet. For their subjects are the same, and not infrequently they deal with the same objects, though in different ways,[12]

    because there are many things in life which have just as much to do with man's soul as with his body.

    So, when conflicts do arise "there must necessarily exist some order or mode of procedure to remove the occasions of difference and contention and to secure harmony in all things."[13] When the true power of the State and the true authority of the Church are well understood, loyally accepted and respected by all, order and harmony must follow for the greatest benefit of the community.

  13. An Appeal to Cooperation

    To help promote this order and harmony which we are all so eager to see established, we wish to explain a little more in detail why and how there must be agreement between the State and the Church.

    The distinction which we have mentioned and which must exist between the State and the Church does not entail a separation between them. On the contrary these two great powers of the world are intended not to ignore or combat each other but to work together for the general benefit of humanity. When Our Lord distinguished between the civil and the spiritual power, He clearly did not mean to imply their radical separation. To distinguish between two things is not the same as to separate them. In man there is a clear-cut distinction between soul and body, yet their separation brings irremediable harm to the body by extinguishing its very life. To ensure that what is Ceasar's should be rendered to Ceasar and what is God's to God, the last thing to be desired is a rupture between the empire of Caesar and the Kingdom of God. [14]

    This agreement and harmony which should exist between the Church and State is not only most beneficial to both, but is also the most opportune and efficient means of securing - through their combined efforts - the welfare of the human race in all that regards temporal life and the hope of eternal salvation. When the civil authority comes to a friendly understanding with the Church, such an agreement necessarily brings great advantages to both. The dignity of the State is in fact enhanced and being guided by religion governs justly. At the same time this harmony between the two powers obtains for the Church defensive and protective aid which is to the advantage of the faithful.[15]

    For many reasons the loyal collaboration of Church and State can be shown to be not only desirable but essential.

    In the first place the true end of the State is closely bound up with spiritual aims. For although distinct in their origin, in their nature and in the immediate aim of their activities, the two societies have nonetheless the same: ultimate goal in view which is that of the whole human community, namely, the eternal salvation of its members. The Church tends immediately towards this goal by means of her beliefs, her rites and her discipline. The State on its part, whilst having the same end in view, must do so indirectly. It does not strictly speaking carry out any religious duty, but it must so order its government and temporal administration that the action of the Church may be facilitated, and that no obstacle may impede the members of the State in their spiritual liberty. Such co-ordination can be achieved only in an atmosphere of unity and reciprocal understanding. How indeed could two independent powers combine for the same purpose, each in its own sphere, without mutual contacts and a certain amount of give and take? The doctrines of the secular State are unacceptable; they make any understanding with the spiritual power impossible; they imprison the State so completely in its temporal functions that it no longer concerns itself with God or with the Church or even with the spiritual needs of its own subjects. "As for the pretensions of those who would make the State completely extraneous to religion", wrote Leo XIII, "and who hold that it can administer public affairs without taking any more account of God then it would if He did not exist, we have here a temerity without paralled even among pagans."[16]

    It is precisely because she recognizes the independence of the State in its own sphere that the Church seeks for its co-operation for the common good of humanity. Between autonomous powers such a concordance of aims can be brought about only by a constant interplay of mutual sympathy as well as through friendly agreements.

  14. We have already said that there are many things in life which have just as much to do with men's soul as with his body; the political power and the spiritual power, in Nyasaland as well as anywhere else, have sometimes identical interests in certain spheres. It is not then enough to say : "Temporal matters are the affair of the State, spiritual matters that of the Church." This would no doubt provide a convenient method of establishing an exactly defined frontier between the two powers, but such a point of view is indefensible, for the direct competence of the State extends to law, justice and morality, in so far as these disciplines derive from natural wisdom end from reason. Now, it is precisely on this moral and juridical plane that Church and State meet and where there is the danger of a clash. There are in the life of a nation many "borderline questions" which can be settled only by a recourse to general principles. Take the question of marriage for instance. “The Church is fully aware that the Sacrament of Matrimony which has for its object the maintenance and the propagation of the human race has necessary connections and relationships with human interests resulting from marriage, but pertaining to the civil order; these matters belong quite properly to the competence and fall within the scope of those who are at the head of the State.” [17]Concerning the education of children, Pius XI said,

    No injury to the authentic and personal rights of the State can result from the primordial rights of the Church and the family in matters of education. These rights are bestowed upon civil society by the Creator himself, not in virtue of any right of fatherhood such as is claimed by the Church and the family, but for the sake of authority without which the State cannot promote the common good which is indeed its true end. [18]

    In these and other similar complex questions, we find that the spiritual and temporal powers are simultaneously concerned. It is consequently impossible to lay down a hard and fast rule to determine where the sphere of action proper to each authority begins and ends. Such being the case, the absolute separation of Church and State must be either an illusion or a challenge to common sense. [19]

    Church and State cannot ignore one another without harming one another. There is therefore one means only whereby they can settle any disputes which may arise: the two must keep in contact, must negotiate and come to some agreements. Mutual friendly relations can bring many advantages to both. In fact, they have need of one another to fulfil, normally speaking, their respective missions. [20]

    In consequence we earnestly urge you, dear Brethren, to practice this policy of understanding and cordial relationship for the peaceful co-existence of Church and State. The most important thing of all, if this end is to be obtained, is a determined resolve on the part of each to understand the other, to unite, to collaborate in "the great work common to both, namely, the promotion of the temporal and spiritual progress of humanity." [21] You may rest assured that your Pastors will always be ready to cooperate and give full support to any undertaking for the common wealth of Nyasaland, provided such undertakings are not opposed to what is right and just.

     

    We now come to the practical application of these principles, to two of the particular problems concerning Nyasaland.

    A : The Church and Politics.
    B : The Catholic Citizen; his Church; his Country; his Neighbour.

    The Church and Politics

    The day on which you are to have the privilege of electing your own representatives to the Legislative Council is drawing near. You may rest well assured that nobody welcomes the coming of this first election day with more satisfaction and joy than your own Bishops and priests. It is a great step forward towards self-government and independence, the normal consequences of a nation's development.

    You will find no difficulty in admitting that for the past 60 years the Catholic Church has consistently worked to give her children in Nyasaland all that is best in Christian civilization, namely, the love of God, love of our neighbour and love of our country. At the same time, she has, through her schools, taught not only the knowledge and understanding of those qualities which make a good citizen but also how to put them into practice. For this reason the Church rejoices with you over the steps which are being taken towards the full and fruitful development of the country.

    The country is evolving towards a democratic form of government, one in which the people choose by election their representatives. There are already several political parties in Nyasaland. Each of these has drawn a programme which it thinks is the best for the common good of the country. Honest differences of opinion have a right to the greatest respect in a free country. Never must they degenerate into intolerance, hatred or violence which are the very antithesis of freedom. Every honest citizen must be able calmly and serenely to judge these political parties on their merits and make the choice of one in complete freedom.

    The Church cannot remain completely indifferent to such a general undertaking on the part of the people for its consequences affect closely their temporal and spiritual welfare. What position then does the Church take up towards politics?

    The Church (The Heirarchy Bishops, Priest, Brothers, Sisters)
  15. The precepts of the natural law and the Gospel for the very reason that they transcend the uncertainties of human existence must necessarily be independent of any particular form of civil government and adapt themselves to all, so long as they are not opposed to what is right and just. They are, therefore, and remain in themselves completely outside party rivalries and political changes, so that under any kind of government, people may abide and ought to abide by those precepts, which bid them love God above all and love their neighbours as themselves."[22] This has ever been the moral teaching of the Church according to which the Roman Pontiffs have constantly dealt with States whatever their form of government. Your Pastors never thought or acted otherwise and will never deviate from this line of conduct.

    The Church does not conceal any political aim or political activity under the cloak of religion. She remains above political parties. [23] This means that, as long is the rights of God and the Church in all human activities, be they social, political, economic or religious, are upheld, the Church will not intervene. Only when these rights are violated is it her duty to defend what she has to defend because "she can never relinquish her God-given task of interposing her authority (not in technical matters for which she has neither the equipment nor the mission) but in those matters bearing on moral conduct."[24] It is our duty to instruct the faithful, as we do now, in these rights of God and the Church, in their obligations towards both, in their civic duties as Christian citizens in the light of Christian doctrine. Our responsibility does not go beyond this nor do we desire that it should go further.

  16. One last point. It is obvious that priests and members of religious institutes have to disapprove of and oppose anything atheistic or anti-Christian in theory and in practice in political matters. For the rest, they may have their personal political opinion like any other citizen and are allowed to vote for the candidate of their choice. The Church forbids them, however, any activity that savours of mere party politics.

    The Catholic Layman
  17.  

    We have seen that the State is distinct from the Church but not divided and completely separated from it. The same distinction exists between religion and politics. They are distinct but not separated. In the words of Leo XIII:

    In fact, there are some who are accustomed not only to make a distinction between religion and politics but even to divide and separate them completely. They admit nothing as being common to both and do not believe in or tolerate any influence of one over the other. Such people in truth do not differ much from those who desire the State to be constituted and administered apart from God, the Creator and Master of all things, and their error is to be all the more deplored since they thus separate society from the source of its most fruitful advantages. [25]

    "Religion does not teach a man only to pray. It tells him how to live and how to follow the law of God everywhere, in all the affairs and occasions of life." [26] As in politics, so in everything else. "Every citizen is bound to make the best use of politics particularly Catholics, since the profession of the, Catholic faith requires of them that they be the best citizens." [27]

    In a democratic government, political parties and the vote are of primary importance. Whether a nation will have good or bad laws, an upright or inefficient administration depends on the voters. A good citizen may not remain indifferent to the outcome of an election.

  18. Political Parties
  19. A Catholic may be a member of any political party except of one that is based on anti-Christian principles. Every one has a right to his own political opinions provided they are not contrary to faith and morals.

    These reservations made, we want to make it perfectly clear that a Catholic citizen, keeping the christian principles in mind, is absolutely free to make his own decisions. Hence, after having known and well considered the programme, the principles and the practice: of the different parties, it is up to him to judge and decide in good conscience to which party he will give his adherence and support. In these matters he has complete liberty and he alone makes his decisions and he alone is responsible for them.

    We repeat that we favour the movement for national independence but the means to obtain it are in the hands of the citizens.

  20. The vote:
  21. The most important right or privilege is the vote. It is at the same time a very grave duty since the vote is responsible, at least partly, for sending to the Legislative Council the best qualified candidates.

    A citizen who is qualified to vote and does not use his right is guilty of a serious omission.

    In casting his vote a citizen should never be swayed by personal profit, religious or racial bias, but solely by this consideration: which of the conflicting issues or candidates is better for the nation. When the election comes, you should scrutinize the candidates who wish to represent you and select your candidate strictly according to the good you think he can do. The interests of political parties should be kept subject to the public good.[28] A good candidate is a man of proven honesty, moral courage, true wisdom and wide learning; he should respect the family rights, the religious belief of the people and have a deep sense of his duties and social responsibilities.

    Then and only then you can testify that you have acted as a good Catholic citizen.

  22. The Catholic Citizen: His Church; His Country; His Neighbour

  23. We have just explained and affirmed the freedom which every Catholic citizen enjoys with regard to political parties and political opinion. This does not mean that, when you engage in politics or in any other communal activity, you are then free to put aside or neglect your duties towards your Church, your country and your neighbour. Far from it. You must remain and act as convinced and practising Catholics in order, precisely, to fulfil your duties under these three heads, being perfectly convinced that in doing so, you really serve your country and play your full part in fostering its common weal.

    Your Duties towards the Church:
    a. Love and Respect

    By birth or adoption you became member of a family and citizen of in earthly country. By Baptism you are born again as subjects of the Kingdom of Christ on earth, His Church. By becoming members of the Catholic Church you received from her your rule of faith and under her guidance you are conscious that you have, beyond question, attained the truth[29] which makes you free.[30] She has given you the knowledge of Him who said: "I am the way, I am the truth and life." [31] She has brought you the most precious gift imaginable which is the true knowledge of man's origin, destiny and greatness. She, through her liturgy and Sacraments, gives even to the weakest the means and assistance to attain his end, eternal salvation. She is really your spiritual mother. Now the first duty of a welll-bred child towards his mother is to LOVE her. To love someone means to wish him well and to obtain for him, to the best of our ability, everything he delights in.

    Conformity in word and deed to the will of the loved one is the first manifestation of love. "Ye are my friends, if ye do the things that I command you" [32] and "the child that is left to his own will bringeth his mother to shame."[33] Consequently the first duty that love imposes on a Catholic is to respect and obey the law of God and the commandments of the Church it all times and in all places, and to see that others respect them. In other words he must live his Catholic Faith. Christianity is a way of life, an endeavour to follow in the footsteps of Christ, not only in name and by routine, but in deed and in truth; thinking as Christ thought, loving as Christ loved, living as Christ lived. This way of life must permeate each and all of your actions.

  24. Hence one cannot say that he truly loves his Church if he does not put into practice her doctrine and commandments, if, for instance, after having fulfilled his Sunday duties, after having perhaps received the Sacrament of Love, he, shortly after, allows himself to criticise or permits others to criticise in his presence, the Church, her authority, her institutions. Every well-bred child who loves his mother behaving towards her as a true son (she may not be the most beautiful mother but she is his mother) will never permit himself any personal criticism of her. Moreover should anyone dare to speak evil of her, to calumniate her and what is worse, insult her, he will rise to defend her with might and main. It is your duty, your loving duty, as sons of the Church, to respect her yourselves (the Church, her rights, her laws, her institutions) and to make others respect her at all times and in all places. He who fails to do so through lack of personal conviction, through false timidity, or even through fear, is no true son of the Church. He is not even a true son of his country, since he looks on unmoved while an assault is launched against a divinely established institution which continually proclaims the abiding laws of God and governments no more than individuals cannot transgress them with impunity. [34] The best Christians are the best citizens. Your first duty, then, is to love your Church, to respect her and to make others respect her at all times and in all places.

  25. b. Unity with and Obedience to your Pastors
  26. Another most characteristic mark of love is obedience. A son who disobeys his mother cannot in conscience say he loves her truly. Moreover for a baptised person this obedience to the Church becomes a grave obligation. [35] "By Baptism you became members of the Church. Not members of some loose association of Christians brought together by mere chance, but members of a divinely established and admirably constituted society which has her fixed laws special spheres of action and a certain method, fixed and conformable to her nature, of governing Christian peoples."[36] You know very well that "your Church is one, because Jesus Christ is one, so throughout the whole Christian world there is, and ought to be, but one doctrine: one Lord, one Faith." (Eph. 4:5)[37] Therefore there must be unity of faith. Now, "to determine which are the doctrines divinely revealed is the prerogative of the teaching Church, to whom God has entrusted the safe-keeping and interpretation of His word. But the supreme teacher in the Church is our Holy Father, the Pope. In addition to perfect agreement in one Faith, unity of mind, therefore, demands complete submission and obedience of the will to the Church and the Roman Pontiff, as to God Himself .... This perfection of obedience has always been and ever will be accounted the hall mark by which we are able to recognize Catholics." [38] Thus every Catholic owes filial and loving obedience to the Holy Father.

    There is another essential part of the Church's constitution which is also of divine origin: the Bishops who "are the successors of the Apostles and by divine institution are placed over the particular churches which they govern by ordinary jurisdiction under the authority of the Roman Pontiff who freely chooses them."[39] Hence your Bishops, under the leadership of the successor of St. Peter, are themselves corporately the successors of the Apostolic, College and inherit its authority. They are your Pastors with the right and obligation to lead you towards salvation. If they have the right and obligation to teach and govern in things spiritual, you have the corresponding duty to obey them. This duty is a part of your love for the Church: Resist, then, all cunning, attempts to separate you from your Pastors, all attempts to persuade you to distinguish between your belief in God and your allegiance and obedience to your Church. There must always be unity between you and your Pastors so that there may be always "one flock and one shepherd." [40]

  27. This unity should exist among you also, dear Brethren, bearing in mind that you are all brothers, sons of the same Christ. Your various common activities, then, - cultural, political, social, religious - should never disturb in any way the fraternal understanding that should always exist among you; nor should these common activities prejudice your collective endeavour to unite, under the guidance of the Episcopate, when the need arises to defend the rights of God, of the Church, of the family and of the individual, mindful that your efforts on their behalf will ultimately redound to the good of the civil authority and of all your fellow citizens.

    b). Duties towards your Country and your Fellow-men. [41]

  28. Duty towards your Country: Love and Patriotism.
  29. Your country is that part of the world in which you live. It is a land in which you have received in¬numerable benefits of body and soul. Think of the education given to you and your children, the help given to your country by other countries, and above all the spiritual benefits conferred upon you by the Catholic Faith. You call it your 'Motherland' because it is to you all that a mother is to her child; because your ancestors lived and died here. It offers to you all that you need for your body and mind.

    Every citizen is bound to love his native land as a child loves its mother. This moral obligation is contained implicity in the fourth commandment of God.

    To love your country you must study its features and know them; you must also know the main facts of its history. You must show a sincere interest in its welfare. Everyone must do his share, contributing to public expenses, paying taxes, and taking an interest in the wellbeing of the country. You should inform yourselves as thoroughly as possible of the kind of government you have, how it is constituted, what its policy is and what problems it has to deal with. You should consider how all this may affect you yourselves, your family and your religion.

  30. This love of your motherland is called 'Patriotism.

    Patriotism is a special virtue stemming from the virtue of Piety. By it we acquire a' real loving devotion to our motherland and to our fellow country men. By this virtue our genuine love for our country is shown by seeking its good. It is a real love, seeking progress in the health, good manners and habits of its inhabitants. It is a practical love helping to promote peace both abroad and at home and a better standard of living. But it is not a blind love. It makes us understand that flaws exist in all human institutions and therefore it is open to constructive criticism inside the country. It is not an exclusive love but admits that other nations exist whom it has to understand and respect, and with whom it has to co-operate for a world at peace. True patriotism does not despise others; it does not follow the false doctrines spread in totalitarian states: evil principles destroying marriage and family life, attacking the Church of God, affirming that the authority of the State is unlimited, refusing to parents the right to train and mould the minds of their children; above all preaching atheism and materialism and spreading strikes and revolution everywhere.

    Our Patriotism must not become an exaggerated nationalism which disregards the laws of justice which we owe to all men. Exaggerated nationalism sees and strives only after the things which increase the power and prosperity of one's own country and has no re¬gard for what other peoples and nations may rightly claim. If we condone in our own rulers or nation what we condemn in others, then the truth is not in us.

  31. Duties towards your Fellow Men
    Towards your Rulers and Chiefs
  32. The rulers and chiefs in a country are the trustees of lawful authority. Even when they are chosen by the people their authority is from God.

    As the Church can accommodate herself to any lawful authority, be it a republic, a monarchy or an empire, so also must the individual Catholic recognize the lawful authority over him and submit to it. "Every soul", says St. Paul to the Romans, "must be submitted to its lawful superiors; authority comes from God only" (Rom., XIII, 1).

    Besides submission and obedience, you owe respect to your rulers, even when their private lives may be blameworthy. You must respect your ruler on account of God's authority with which he is invested. But if the rulers command you to act against the law of God, you must remember the words of St. Peter: "Judge for yourselves whether it would be right for us to listen to your voice rather than to God's" (Acts, IV, 19).

    With this one supreme and indispensable reservation on the prior -rights of God's law, the Church never ceases to exhort Catholics to be foremost in loyalty to their rulers and slow to criticise them, but not afraid to do so when necessary; rallying round them in times of crisis; upholding good laws as good citizens, thinking more of the general good than of their own personal interests.

    Furthermore, Catholics must help their rulers, first of all by praying for them. They must trust them. They must keep them informed on all questions regarding working conditions, family rights, educational matters and private property, and help them in settling these questions.

    The Head of the State's task is indeed a hard one because he is "God's minister working for thy good" (Rom., XIII, 4). As minister of God's justice, he must discharge the duties of his office without fear or favour. As minister of God's power, he has to punish evil-doers, to preserve order and peace, protect the lives of his subjects and ensure freedom of religion. To accomplish this the Heads of State need the whole-hearted co-operation of every citizen.

  33. Towards your Fellow Countrymen:
    a. Love for one another
  34. Jesus Christ makes the love of one another the mark by which His disciples are known. This charity must not be influenced by race, language or creed. We must love all men because they are the images of God and because with all of them we share a common origin and a common destiny.

    There should be no discrimination in love, for "there is no distinction made here between Jew and Gentile," says St. Paul, "for the same is Lord of all, rich unto all that call upon Him" (Rom., X, 12). This is still true with regard to those who are not Christians. All the more reason then why we should love our fellow citizens. Of course this virtue of charity should be guided by prudence and temperance. It does not demand that we should love all men with equal affection, treat them all as our dearest friends, or show them all indifferently special signs of affection. All that is asked is that we show a positive love for our neighbour.

    Diametrically opposed to his love of our fellow men is hatred of them. Hatred is something more than the lack of love. It separates us mentally from our neighbour. Through hatred we not only forget every duty towards him but positively wish him evil. When directed against the person of our neighbour, hatred is always grievously sinful. If it is directed against his faults or vices it may be without sin for vices are really hateful. But this kind of hatred not unusually passes from the sin to the person of the sinner and is then culpable. Hatred grieves at the prosperity and rejoices at the adversity of the hated person. It exaggerates his faults and discounts his ,virtues. It wishes him evil and does him evil. It does not stop at malediction, calumny and detraction, but often assails his very life. Hence Holy Scripture says "Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer" (1 John, 'III, 15); and again: "If a man says he loves God and hates his neighbour, he is a liar" (1 John, IV, 20). Jesus Christ has given us the most perfect example of the love of our enemies. Let us imitate His example.

    b. Tolerance and Understanding.

    To live together in peace and harmony, the citizens of the same country must learn to tolerate the differences that exist as they do everywhere, even in countries much older than Nyasaland. The inhabitants of our country differ in race, language and religious beliefs. There should be equality for all before the law without discrimination on account of racial or other differences, and complete freedom of religion. All the citizens and Catholics in particular should seek this equality for themselves and respect it in others.

    It would be easier to practise tolerance if the citizens endeavoured to understand their neighbour and look with sympathy and broadmindedness on his way of life. By being tolerant we imitate God Himself who created the sun to give light to all men, good and evil, and His rain to fall on the just and the unjust alike.

    c. Co-operation

    Catholics must also think of the Community. They have an obligation in conscience not only to respect the rights of their fellow men as individuals, but also to think of then as members of the country. Justice without charity may turn to oppression; charity without justice may lead to the unfair administration of public justice. The good citizen ought to be civic-minded that is, he ought to interest himself in all that concerns the conduct of public affairs.

    To sum up. Show your patriotism by loving your country. Honour it by your good personal conduct; such habits as hard work, temperance, truthfulness and trustworthiness are the best guarantees of social progress.
    Love, respect and at all times try to understand your fellow country men. Show courtesy and kindness to all, tolerance to those who differ from you in customs and religious beliefs, forbearance for faults and mistakes and give a helping hand to all in need.

    Conclusion

    Dearly beloved Brethren, we send you this hater as a token of the heartfelt desire we have to co-operate in helping your country to become a nation of truly free men. In the words of the present Pope, John XXIII : "We shall be happy and proud if our sons and daughters are so penetrated by their Christian principles that they will overcome the difficulties which may arise, knowing that a truly free people desires and accepts diversity in its members and receives a greater benefit from it. The fraternal love of its inhabitants, willingly practised in faithful obedience to. Our Lord Jesus Christ is the best: cement of a nation. It is also, and we affirm it without fear, the best pledge and most sure artisan of its unity, prosperity and greatness." [42]

    This letter is nothing more than a reminder of the great and eternal principle that no one can hope to build for permanent peace unless he plans according to the Creator's laws. "Unless the Lord build the house, they labour in vain those who build it" (Psalm CXXVI, 1). As in the natural order, architect and engineers must observe the natural laws of physics - laws which man has discovered not made, which he has formulated but not imposed - so too, in the moral order, God's laws for individual, family, State and Church cannot be neglected with impunity. When the laws governing societies are related to divine law, when they are based on justice and quickened by charity, the nation truly lives, because this is God's plan' for it even in the natural order.[43]

    We sincerely hope and pray that these principles which we have put before you will help you to unite with all your fellow countrymen in pooling your efforts to constitute -- with the help of God and in submission to His law -a prosperous and happy nation.

    This is our most sincere wish to all this Easter tide. In a few days, in all our churches and in all ,our hearts, will ring out the joyful tidings of Christ's Resurrection. May the Risen Christ be your help as you strive daily after true happiness.

    "O Lord who on this day, through Thine only begotten Son, didst overcome death and open to us the gate of everlasting life; as by Thy preventing grace Thou dost breathe on the desires of our hearts, so do Thou ever accompany them with Thy help."[44]

    As a pledge of heavenly favour we grant you all from the depths of our hearths our fatherly blessings.

    Given In Lilongwe, on the Feast of St. Joseph, 20th March, 1961.

The Catholic Bishops of Nyasaland

J.B. Theunissen, S.M.M., Archbishop of Blantyre
J. Fady, W.F., Bishop of. Lilongwe
C. Citsulo, Bishop of Dedza
J.L. Jobidon, W.F., Bishop-elect of Mzuzu
F.X. Loughran, S.M.M., Vicar General of Zomba

 

Notes

[1] "Africans and the Christian Way of Life," Pastoral Letter of the Ordinaries of Tanganyika, 11 July 1953, p. 7
[2] "Purchased People," Bishop Lamont, p.3.
[3]Ottaviani, Institutiones Juris Publici, II, (1936), p. 2.
[4] Lecler, The Two Sovereignties, (1952), p. 25.
[5] Mit. Brennender Sorge, 14 March 1937.
[6] Summi Pontificatus, 20 October 1939.
[7]Lecler, o.c., p. 27.
[8] Leo XIII, Libertas Humana, 20 June 1888.
[9] "Every soul must be submitted to its lawful superiors; authority comes from God only." (Rom XIII, ).
[10] Leo XIII, Libertas Humana, 20 June 1888.
[11] Leo XIII, The Christian Constitution of States, Nov. 1, 1885.
[12] Leo XIII, Human Liberty, 28 June, 1988.
[13] Leo XIII, idem.
[14] Lecler, The Two Soverignties, p. 35
[15] Leo XIII, Humanum Genus, 20 April, 1884.
[16] Leo XIII, Humanum Genus, 20 April, 1884.
[17] Leo XIII, Arcanum, 10 Feb., 1880; Canon Law: Cc. 1016; 1063.
[18] Pius Xl, Encyclical on Education, Dec. 31st, 1929.
[19] Lecler, o.c., p. 37.
[20]The Church can count on God's help in the midst of the gravest perils. She therefore fears neither war nor persecution. She has already proved in the long course of her history that even the greatest political and social upheavals are powerless to prevent her from continuing her work and pursuing her mission. It is nonetheless true that a peaceful atmosphere is greatly to her advantage. She knows by experience that any spiritual gains which are hem must remain, precarious in a land devastated by war or given over to anarchy. Rightly desirous to make sure that her work will be thorough and lasting, she welcomes with gratitude the co-operation of the civil authorities when they endeavour to produce within their own sphere an atmosphere of peace and security. Nor has the State less need of the Church if it is to carry out its temporal obligations worthily. The fulfilment of its cultural and moral mission is, in fact, beyond its unaided powers; it cannot, in practice, achieve its ends without the assistance of the Spiritual society: "When religion is banished from civil society, when the doctrine and authority of Divine Revelation are rejected, the true conception of justice and human law become obscure, and physical force takes the place of justice and true law." Pius IX, Quanta Cura, 1864. The State left to itself loses the sense of its natural vocation as the guardian of law, peace and justice with this terrifying consequence: humanity reverts towards that lapsed state from which Christ came to save us. Fallen man has grown too weak to practice of his own accord the virtues proper to his state; he needs the assistance which Christ's grace alone can
give him. In return for complete freedom to exercise her ministry and cordial co-operation with her social institutions, the Church will prove herself the State's trustiest ally and strongest supporter. The Church need be feared by no man who values the liberty of the citizens and the defence of what is right. Letter of the Sudan Hierarchy, 1956.
[21] Lecler, o.c., p. 47.
[22] Leo XIII, On Christian Democracy, Jan. 18th, 1901.
[23] "Since the Church not only is a perfect society in herself, but is superior to every other society of human growth, she resolutely refuses, prompted alike by right and duty, to link to any one party and to subject herself to the fleeting exigencies of politics. On like grounds, the Church, the guardian always of her own right and most observant of that of others, holds that it is not her province to decide which is best among the many diverse forms of government and the civil institutions of Christian states, and amid the various kind of state she does not disapprove of any provided the respect due to religion and the observance of good morals be upheld", Leo XIII, Jan. 19th, 1890. And the same Pontiff adds (Au milieu des Sollicitudes, Beb., 16th, 1892). "Here before going any further, we must point out a calumny cunningly spread about so as to discredit Catholics and even the Holy See by hateful accusations. It is said that the extent and power of the activity taught to Catholics for the defence of their faith is secretly motivated, less by a desire to safeguard the interests of religion, than by an ambition to confer on the Church a political domination over the State. This is nothing more than the revival of a very ancient calumny invented by the early enemies of Christianity. Was it not first of all pronounced against the adorable Person of Our Redeemer? Yes. He was accused of acting against the political authorities, when he was, in reality, enlightening men's souls, and alleviating the unfortunate in their corporal and spiritual sufferings through the treasures of His Divine Goodness". - "We declare in all Apostolic sincerity that the Church is as far removed as possible from any intention of that kind; that she stretches out her motherly arms to men, asking not to have any dominion over them but in every way possible to be their servant. She does not seek to intrude into the position occupied in a special and perfectly legitimate way by secular authorities. Rather she aids them in their mission filled ,with the spirit and following in the footsteps of Him who "went about doing good." Pius XII, Summi Pontificatus, Oct. 20th, 1939.
[24] Pius XI, Reconstruction of the Social Order, May 15th, 1931.
[25] Cum Multa, Dec. 8th, 1882.
[26] Hierarchy of the Sudan, .1956.
[27] Pius XI, Peculiari Quaedam, June 24th, 1928.
[28] Letter of the Hierarchy of the Sudan, 1956.
[29] Leo XIII, Sapientiae Christianae, 10th Jan. 1890.
[30] John, VIII, 32.
[31] John, XIV, 6.
[32] John, XV, 14.
[33] Prov. XXIV, 15.
[34] Sapientiae Christianae, Leo XIII, 10th Jan., 1890: "Nations and even vast empires themselves cannot remain long unharmed, since upon the lapsing of Christian institutions and morality, the main foundation of human society must necessarily be. up¬rooted. Force alone will remain to preserve public tranquillity and order; force, however, is very feeble when the bulwark of religion has been removed; and being more apt to beget slavery than obedience, it bears within itself the germs of ever increasing troubles."
[35] Code of Canon Law, cn. 87.
[36] Leo XIII, Sapientiae Christianae, 10th Jan., 1890.
[37] Idem.
[38] Idem.
[39] Code of Canon Law, cn. 329.
[40] John, X, 15.
[41] The Heirarchy of Uganda (1952) and Sudan (1956).
[42] Message to the Republic of Congo Independence Celebration, 28.5.60.
[43] "Purchased People", Bishop Lamont, p.44.
[44] Collect of the Mass, Easter Sunday