What Should Catholics Think About Revolution?

The 2008 election was, to many Catholics and other social conservatives, a defeat of significance. Barak Obama’s election, as well as the Democratic takeover of the congressional houses, represented to many a stunning success of secular humanism and a defeat of the pro-life values that form the core of much Catholic support for the Republican Party. The fact that so few people seemed to care that Obama’s election promised the continuation of Supreme Court support for Roe v. Wad e for the next twenty to thirty years only added salt to the wound. High emotions, then, dominate as Catholics look to articulate or listen for a political philosophy relevant to our particular situation: a philosophy that can offer a robust alternative to secular humanism and its “progressive” agenda.

At the same time, a largely leaderless Republican Party has itself experienced a period of soul-searching. Perhaps as a credit to the novel Constitutional Puritanism of Ron Paul, a new wave of political rhetoric that hearkens back to just before the American Revolutionary War has gained a following. At first, this movement looked to be no more than a scattering of “Tea Party” protests across the country. However, as news breaks of massive federal deficits and a Democratic government seemingly content to ram through new spending, including an unpopular “reform” of healthcare, many people feel as though something about our current administration has to change. Something has gone wrong, enough is enough, and perhaps if we retrace our steps back to the original documents on which our political structure is based, we may find a solution. If this is the direction popular sentiment is headed, books like political pundit Glenn Beck’s Common Sense (which, as the subtitle acknowledges, is “Inspired by Thomas Paine”) and Ron Paul’s own The Revolution: A Manifesto may represent a political movement with potential for growth. In addition to merely calling for a sort of Constitutional Originalism, it seems to me that there is something a little ominous in this pre-Revolutionary rhetoric. In particular, it seems to suggest the possibility (or even the merit) of a violent overthrow of the United States government if no more peaceful means for substantial change can be employed. If so, what should Catholics think about this?

Pope Pius IX looks to have quashed revolutionary sentiments entirely in rejecting the thought that “It is lawful to withhold obedience to legitimate rulers, indeed even to rebel.” This was listed as one of many modern errors in his famous Syllabus . In Etsi multa luctuosa , Pope Pius IX further explained that the Church teaches that the faithful should “inviolably keep [obedience] to the supreme princes and their laws insofar as they are secular” however the Church “has restricted this fear of princes to evil works, plainly excluding the same [fear of punishment] from the observance of the divine law”. That is to say, rendering to Caesar what is Caesar’s involves obedience to the secular laws of the land insofar as they do not violate our more fundamental obligation to give to God what is God’s. If the State calls us to sin, we may not obey. In all other respects, we are to submit to those who rule over us.

In response, one who would seek to defend the legitimacy of rebellion might draw upon the qualifier “legitimate” –- arguing that it is wrong to disobey or even to rebel against legitimate authority, but it is an open question whether our current government is indeed legitimate (or will continue to be so in the future). The Revolutionary War that gave birth to this nation was justified along similar lines. The founders argued in the Declaration of Independence that people posses a ‘right to revolution’ in certain circumstances. Thus,

“[T]o secure these rights [of Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of Happiness], Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government […].”

As the power to legitimately rule a people derives from the consent of the people, so the thinking goes, then it is perfectly legitimate for these same people to deny consent when the government deprives people of their rights. If the ruler continues to hold office after the consent of the governed has been denied and even defends his position with force, the argument continues, then he is no better than a usurper of power and can be justly taken out of a position of authority by the people, in whom all power ultimately resides.

This pattern of argument must be rejected by the faithful Catholic. In his encyclical Diuturnum , Pope Leo XIII writes plainly:

“Indeed, very many men of more recent times, walking in the footsteps of those who in a former age assumed to themselves the name of philosophers, say that all power comes from the people; so that those who exercise it in the State do so not as their own, but as delegated to them by the people, and that, by this rule, it can be revoked by the will of the very people by whom it was delegated. But from these, Catholics dissent, who affirm that the right to rule is from God, as from a natural and necessary principle.”

Pope Leo XIII continues that democracy is a legitimate means to select such a ruler, provided certain conditions are satisfied, but once a leader is justly selected power is not derived from below, so to speak, but is granted to him by God. Consequently, Pope Leo argues, the ruler

“will by that very reason immediately acquire a dignity greater than human […] Whence it will behoove citizens to submit themselves and to be obedient to rulers, as to God, not so much through fear of punishment as through respect for their majesty; nor for the sake of pleasing, but through conscience, as doing their duty. And by this means authority will remain far more firmly seated in its place. For the citizens, perceiving the force of this duty, would necessarily avoid dishonesty and contumacy, because they must be persuaded that they who resist State authority resist the divine will; that they who refuse honor to rulers refuse it to God Himself.”

The entire encyclical is worth reading in full, but these selections should put to a definitive end any idea among Catholics that a repeat of our revolutionary war may be justified. This becomes even clearer when we take seriously the fact that our initial Revolutionary War was illegitimate and cooperation with it immoral; although patriotic feelings often cloud this plain fact, the “social contract” justification for revolutionary war espoused in the Declaration of Independence was seriously flawed. The bloodshed that followed from it was blood shed in a deplorably immoral way. Any thought of repeating this war must be vehemently rejected among Catholics as engaging in serious sin.

It is admittedly very difficult to acknowledge, but Barack Obama and the Democratic Congress (as well as the justices on the Supreme Court) have power because God has granted power to them. Not only should they not be challenged insofar as they have power, but (as Pope Leo explained) they should in fact be esteemed and honored: possessing a dignity and majesty that is not merely human, but comes from God. I pray all Catholics are reminded of these facts as anger over the deficit and healthcare “reform” bill mounts, and the revolutionary rhetoric continues to heat up. We are called to respect and honor those who rule over us, and to submit to them unless they command us to sin.

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  • http://www.tell-usa.org Robert Struble, Jr.

    Brian Besong, this article’s author, relies not on The Catechism of the Catholic Church, but on excerpts from encyclicals predating the Catechism by more than a century. Not that the antiquity of a document should be held against it, if it has stood the test of time. Clearly, however, it has failed that chronological test – and not just because Besong’s authorities (Pius IX and Leo XIII) predated historical insight on resistance to evil deriving from Bolshevism and the Holocaust. In regard to insurrection by the sword, section 2243 of the Catechism published under the signature of John-Paul II states:

    “Armed resistance to oppression by political authority is not legitimate, unless all the following conditions are met:

    . there is certain, grave, and prolonged violation of fundamental rights;
    . all other means of redress have been exhausted;
    . such resistance will not provoke worse disorders;
    . there is well-founded hope of success; and
    . it is impossible reasonably to foresee any better solution.”

    Clearly, if we take the Catechism as superseding, or rather clarifying 19th century encyclicals, then we must reject Besong’s thesis from the Boilermaker campus. He asserts, in effect, that our Founding Fathers sinned by fighting the American Revolution. This is a misleading idea theologically, and revisionism ad absurdum.

  • http://justinlterch.blogspot.com justinterch

    I firmly agree with and amplify Mr. Struble’s above critique.

    Mr. Besong, however, is further flawed in his analysis of Catholic moral responsibility in engaging in revolutionary activities, in that he fails to recognize the Church’s ultimate stance in political activism. A Catholic’s moral responsibility is not determined by Mother Church, only clarified by Her.

    Just as defying the Roman law by practicing Christianity in the early days of our faith was justified and morally consistent with Catholic teaching, so is revolution under appropriate circumstances.

    Further, it seems that Besong is misinformed, or possibly uneducated, in modern or historical jurisprudence. Although a positivist would surmount that the State derives its authority from properly enacted laws, a natural law theorist (which is a position certianly held by the Church) holds that laws are not “real laws” if they violate the natural law. Hence, our government’s “legalization” of abortion, which is truly a violation of natural law, is an “unjust law”, in fact, not a true law at all.

    As such, revolution trenched in reasons of natural rights, is not only a right, but as the saying goes, an obligation. In defense of Besong, however, I fail to see a “fundemental right” being violated in the dispute between the Crown and the American colonies: probably more of a battle between egos than anything…

  • Pingback: What Should Catholics Think About Revolution? | Pelican Project Pro-Life

  • cpageinkeller

    I agree with Robert Struble. Besong’s thesis ignores the context of the Catechism’s discourse on the 4th commandment (CCC 2197-2257) that defines the relationships within the family of man from the nuclear family and the relationship between citizens and government.

    The essential relationship between the government (CCC 2235-2237) and the governed (CCC 2238-2243) is based on both having privilege and responsibility.

    Our current government is in violation of 2237 (“Political authorities are obliged to respect the fundamental rights of the human person. They will dispense justice humanely by respecting the rights of everyone, especially of families and the disadvantaged.

    The political rights attached to citizenship can and should be granted according to the requirements of the common good. They cannot be suspended by public authorities without legitimate and proportionate reasons. Political rights are meant to be exercised for the common good of the nation and the human community.”)

    As citizens, the governed, we will be in violation of our duty if we fail to protest (rebel against) these violations (CCC 2242 “The citizen is obliged in conscience not to follow the directives of civil authorities when they are contrary to the demands of the moral order, to the fundamental rights of persons or the teachings 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”:

    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.”

    We must, therefore, oppose those aspects that are not in concert with our faith. Fortunately, our Constitution provides us with the means to “rise up” through the political process (unless it is further perturbed by the heavy hand of government). Thus the criteria of 2243 are not yet fulfilled.

    I hope we can over come the damage done by the election of 2008 at the ballot box and over time. Sadly, our current status and quick-step march toward a society further degraded by the tenets of moral relativism and secular humanism was entirely predictable if one stripped away the feel good rhetoric and looked at behavior: Facta, non verba!

  • terrygeorge

    it would seem that the commentors have shown that Dr Besong has unfortunatley failed to include the whole of catholic revelation on this issue, there can be legitimate revolution after all, but we are nowhere near that point yet.

  • terrygeorge

    here is to a catholic constitutionalist party in 2010

  • Warren Jewell

    From a historical perspective, in truth, and about freedom and justice, I would have to wonder how God (and we should) weigh in one hand the Carrolls’ leadership of Maryland into our American Revolution and, e.g., Nancy Pelosi’s leadership of our House of Representatives. I can’t recall any Papal reprimand to the Carrolls for their examples as signers of the Declaration of Independence or command in revolutionary conflict.

    And, how the weight of England and George III fell on the thirteen colonial states seems overwhelmed by how our contemporary purported American leadership has led us into such as abortion on one abominating hand and confiscatory material redistribution on the other hand. And, that is to measure but two hands. Pretty much in all three branches, we have impositions of our leaders very much apparently worse than the governors of George III. In how we are already ‘in conflict’ in relation to our authorities, we take a million casualties a year, now.

    For those who would caution in terms of ‘last-resort’, I see us as having been in this conflict, authority to citizen, for all my sixty-some years. When does ‘last-resort’ kick in?

  • http://www.rosaryarmy.com Mickey

    The question none of the commenters have recognized is that encyclicals referred to lay out the very Catholic case that God alone is Sovereign, and that He establishes authority.

    Insofar as that authority is legitimate…duly elected, constituted, crowned, whatever…the faithful Catholic has the responsibility to remain obedient.

    None of the encyclicals say a Catholic must follow unjust laws or obey unjust authority.

    I don’t think revolution is a very good thing…and we should be very, very careful what we wish for…we may get it.

  • joanspage

    I find the talk of another revolution troubling but since it is very unlikely, I think I’ll side with Mr. Struble.

    If one believes rulers are in power in every case because of God’s will, it was wrong to oppose the Sovier bloc. No good Carholic could seriously make arguement.

    The morality of any war may be hard to determined. However, the Americab Revolution was not immoral. It may have had imnoral aspects such as its defense of slavery. But the D of I’s logic regarding the equality of man and the consent of the governed were prophetic. It always moves me when I hear or read it.

    I do not think condemning a revolution against Protestant Great Britain makes much sense from a Catholic viewpoint. The Revolution paved the way for religious liberty here and elsewhere.

    That is hardly immoral.

  • Brian Besong

    Mr. Struble’s comments seem to form the backbone of opposition to my article, at least for those who have posted comments. This is fitting, since Mr. Struble’s articles advocating violence against authority are one of the principle reasons I decided to write an article like this. Mr. Struble, in his most recent Catholic Exchange article “Insurrection by Convention” wrote that “Unsheathing the sword in the manner of our Forefathers might turn out to be the sole way to restore our nation to a condition that is neither odious politically nor loathsome culturally.”

    Although I sympathize entirely with his longing for a new just government (and the longing all Catholics have in this regard), the means he seems to propose against our present government – violent revolution – neither fits the historic Tradition of our Church, nor does it fit the teachings of the Catechism. Why not?

    One may notice in my article that I never say that revolution is itself off limits (as not even theoretically possible). What I do say is that revolution is off limits against legitimate authority, and this is perfectly consistent with what the Catechism says (where Mr. Struble quotes it) at 2243: “Armed resistance to oppression by political authority is not legitimate, unless….” In his own commentary on this Catechism selection, Mr. Struble gives the impression that this declaration stands in opposition to the previous teaching of the ordinary Magisterium of the Church, the encyclicals of past Popes. He says of these teachings that they have “failed that chronological test.” It is not exactly clear what he means by that, but it is obvious that he sees the quotation given by the Catechism *not* as a more full and complete expression of previous Church teaching; rather, he thinks that the Catechism stands in opposition to the previous Church teaching I quoted. Such assumptions of discontinuity do a disservice to Mr. Struble’s commendable intellect, as Lumen Gentium makes clear that “loyal submission of the will and intellect must be given, in a special way, to the authentic teaching authority of the Roman Pontiff, even when he does not speak ex cathedra.” This goes no less for previous Popes, which is why their teaching cannot be discounted quickly and roughly for modern statements of the faith: *nor need they be.* For Mr. Struble gives us no reason at all to go along with him in his assumption of discontinuity between the two statements of Catholic teaching. Providing us with an argument to think that the Catechism stands opposed to the teaching of two prior Popes would be necessary before we would be forced to conclude they made mistakes in their authoritative Papal teachings.

    Lacking any such argument, I think the safer assumption is an assumption of continuity: the Catechism does not reject previous Papal teachings, it clarifies and expands upon them. If so, then we must take seriously – as authoritative Papal teaching – all the quotations I included in my article against revolution. They cannot be discounted, for they have not been rejected or undermined. How do we interpret the Catechism in continuity with the previous authoritative teachings?

    These earlier teachings make clear that revolution against legitimate government is morally wrong. I would venture to say that such rebellion is gravely wrong. Likewise, when the Catechism says that revolution (or more accurately “armed resistance”) is not morally permissible unless all of a number of conditions are satisfied, then we can understand those conditions as markers that a government no longer has (if it ever did) power legitimately descending from God. Thus, we can read the Catechism as saying something along these lines: “Revolution against legitimate authority is morally wrong (because legitimate authority has power and majesty descending from God); however, if all conditions [1-5] are satisfied, then such a government is no longer legitimately a possessor of power given by God. Armed resistance against this illegitimate authority is, in such a case, morally permissible.” In a case like this, we may even venture to guess that true Power (given by God) has left the previous authority, and come down upon those who will succeed him. A more detailed presentation could be given, but this rough approximation is useful because it shows we need not think the quotations I have given stand in any opposition to the current teaching of the Church, as quoted by Mr. Struble. Without such an assumption of opposition, everything I have said (and quoted) holds water and must be taken seriously by any faithful Catholic.

    Applying this to our current situation, we must ask if revolution is justified for us by the conditions specified in the Catechism (for else it would follow that it is condemned by the teaching I highlighted). Put more in the context of this discussion, we may ask ourselves whether or not our current government is legitimate. Given the very conditions Mr. Struble quotes in support of his own position of revolution, we see quite clearly that armed revolt is not morally permissible given the most current teaching of the Church, for the following conditions are not satisfied: all other means of redress have been exhausted; such resistance will not provoke worse disorders; there is well-founded hope of success; and it is impossible reasonably to foresee any better solution. Likewise, we must conclude our government is legitimate and any rebellion against it would be a rebellion against the august majesty of God who gives those in power their positions. In support of this position, one may remember that our current Pope did nothing less than congratulate President Obama for his election – hardly the sort of action the Rock of Peter would make if President Obama were not a legitimate authority.

    One important thing to notice, too, is that we are no longer entertaining any thought of justifying a revolt given the premises that our founding fathers put forth in the Declaration of Independence, nor could we. For we have seen such a justification was seriously flawed, as I have pointed out. We should not hold this moment in our national history in a place of high esteem (perhaps seeking to imitate it in our own lifetimes), for neither does their own justification hold water for revolt (the social contract justification) as explained by Pope Leo, nor does it satisfy the conditions given in the Catechism for when a supposed authority no longer legitimately has power.

    As our Catechism [2238] makes clear: “Those subject to authority should regard those in authority as representatives of God, who has made them stewards of his gifts: “Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution. . . . Live as free men, yet without using your freedom as a pretext for evil; but live as servants of God.” Today this means regarding Barak Obama and the entire US (and State) government with the esteem and honor due to them, as Pope Leo carefully explained, for “they who resist State authority resist the divine will [and] they who refuse honor to rulers refuse it to God Himself.”

  • papist

    I am intrigued by this topic. Having been to a strong Roman Catholic college recently, and being a history major, there were often many debates over the legitimacy of the American Revolution. Coming from a public schooling background, I must submit that I began on the side that the American Revolution was indeed legitimate. After all, history is written by the victors, and everything our public schooling( some call it indoctrination) points to tells us that we were justified in revolution. The consequences of a decision to revolt were staggering, and after two years of debate I came to the conclusion that the American Revolution was in fact unjustified. Justification for the legitimacy of American independence now came at the cost of blood. Although there were unjust laws, at no point did the British government cause blood to be shed unless provoked.

    People, without the moral compass of the Church, were emotionally caught up in the “cause for independence” and when emotions take reign over reason there is a snowball effect. When emotions get brought into the circle revolutions like in France take place. Not enough had been done on the side of America to justify a war, but they were emotionally committed.

    Catholic teaching builds upon itself, which is part of what makes it so beautiful. The “just war” rule in the Catechism was built upon years of Catholic teaching, including those from Leo XIII. We are no where near the cause of a just revolution in America because there is still hope of good change. The means for redress have not been exhausted and the consequences of such action would be horrible.

    Look at what is happening right now – pro-lifers are uniting in huge numbers to conquer things like the threat of a government run healthcare. There is a very strong chance that those democrats who promote the Culture of Death will lose their hold on the House in the midterm elections in November, essentially blocking the Obama administration from committing the evils it has planned.

    I submit that America has been going down the wrong road since Roe vs Wade, but I see a vibrant young community of Catholics that are getting degrees in Law and similar degrees who will do all that they can to turn America back from the road it’s been going down. And it will happen without the need for revolution.

    Mr. Struble, thank you for your great article and response.

  • m7wij

    Pope John Paul II, The Great, lived under the most oppressive regimes in history. He suffered first under Hitler’s Nazis, then under Stalin’s communist atheists. He supported a revolution, peaceful as it was. He then rose to lead the Church, as Christ calls us all, to spread the Good News of His resurrection, and our salvation, across the globe. We are now being oppressed by well-meaning heretics. It is our Catholic responsibility to stand for Christ’s gospel message, and protect the most vulnerable and innocent among us from such ignorance as lead people to believe a man can spend his way out of national debt, and save money by increasing the bureaucracy of government-controlled health care that sees economy in condemning to death the unborn, and frail elderly.

  • papist

    ***Great way to end my article with a bit of humility! – I meant Mr. Besong, thank you for your great article and response.

  • 13illkirby

    Although I agree with Mr. Besong that rulers and government authority have power from God (the Old Testament is full of examples of enemies of Israel being sent by God to punish them) it does not necessarily mean that they are due respect and honor. I, for one, would be curious to hear what the late Pope John Paul II would have to say if Mr. Besong were to inform him that refusing honor to Mr. Hitler, Mr. Stalin, and their successors is demonstrating dishonor to God himself. I do not compare any member of the goverrnment to these monsters, as I still think they hold legitimate authority, and are still worthy of respect (though I personally hold them in no honor). However, the examples of those men seem to give the lie to the rather sweeping statement made by Pope Leo before the rise of the absolutely secular state.

  • http://www.tell-usa.org Robert Struble, Jr.

    Mr. Besong,
    I’m sure that as a graduate student at Purdue you’ve long since been taught the importance of quoting in context. I’m not a little astonished that you avoid the main context and essence of my article, “Insurrection by Convention.” Once again, sir: CONVENTION.

    I repeat my view, stated earlier, that we need to proceed in line with Article V of the Constitution, i.e. “a convention for proposing amendments.” Only if we exhaust all peaceful options (we are not there yet) would 2243 of the Catechism kick in.

  • tadams1138

    In addition to Mr. Struble’s last comment, I’d like to add:

    “In a case like this, we may even venture to guess that true Power (given by God) has left the previous authority, and come down upon those who will succeed him”

    Statements like that offer little practical purpose anymore than my Baptist friend’s claims that someone is “saved” unless of course they turn out to be an ax murderer later in which case they must not really have been “saved” to begin with. While the statement may be true, it offers no guidance for how we ought to act but only appears to fill a hole so that an argument may work. Also, talking about legitimacy coming from God is a distraction since it fails to explain how we humans can determine if a ruler is legitimate. Even if legitimacy came from mole men, no one is advocating overthrowing legitimate authority. So let’s focus on how do we as men determine whether an authority is legitimate or not.

    To those who think that the revolutionary war was illegitimate, does extreme distance not matter in the arguments that England was a legitimate authority over the American colonies? Was Ghandi wrong to resist English rule too? With regards to anti-revolutionary war arguments, I hope no one in this discussion fell into the trap of arguing matters left up to the conscience of those involved like weighing whether the bloodshed is worth it, or if there was a foreseeable better solution.

    In some of these arguments, it looks like legitimacy alternates between how some come to power or the nature of their rule. Both conditions must be met. We all (appear to) agree that if a completely legitimate election occurs and the guy in power orders the slaughter of all left handed people, just war theory takes over which is what CCC 2243 resembles.

    Again, what Mr. Besong needs to focus on is how someone achieves legitimacy regardless of the nature of their rule. If I waltz in to your congressional district, declare myself Grand Pooba and enforce a reasonable 10 cent tax on tea using my thug army, you’d call me loony and would certainly advocate a SWAT team remove me. Now suppose no force greater than my own was available for 100 years so that a few generations would live under my tea taxing tyranny. Simply flexing power over someone for 100 years is no way to achieve a level of legitimacy.

  • Brian Besong

    I am contented that there are no further objections to my article that arise out of the teachings of the Church, at least none which are not sufficiently addressed in the response I gave. User cpageinkeller’s objections are sufficiently similar to Mr. Struble’s as to not need independent analysis.

    I am sorry that I did not provide a more detailed analysis of your article, Mr. Struble. I found the article interesting, and I enjoyed reading it. That I have come to very different conclusions from you does not in any undermine my respect for your intelligence and loyalty to the teaching Magisterium of the Church. It is my confidence in your loyalty and intelligence that leads me to believe you will reexamine the foundations of your perspective. Indeed, if you make your position consistent with both the teachings of our current Pope (in, say, the Catechism) as well as the teachings of previous Popes, as Lumen Gentium requires, then you will see that our current government must be seen to have power, and valid authority. This is why our Pope congratulated President Obama for his election, and this observation follows from the fact that we have no right to rebel against it according to even the most generous reading of the Catechism. We are to remain submissive because this government has lawful authority over us. Despite its crimes, which are real, our government’s authority is legitimate. Consequently, it deserves esteem and honor; it possesses an august majesty because power has come to it not from below, as if we have conferred power to it from power which we have, but from above. God has indeed made this president our president, and perhaps he has done that as a chastisement for our sins (among other things). When we do not honor him, President Barack Obama (or any other legitimate government official), then we do not honor Him, God, who has conferred His power in a temporal way onto all validly ruling governments. Pope Leo says this quite plainly.

    Those whose aspirations include rebellion in the near future must also acknowledge that bad as our current government is, in the crimes that it commits, it is no worse and perhaps far better than many governments our world has seen before Pope Leo or Pope Pius. I would far prefer our current President to Nero, and my current governor to Pontius Pilate. A New Hampshire girl being ordered into a public school by our courts so as to expose her to non-Christian viewpoints is bad, but Catholics fared far worse after the “Reformation” in England. Who are the Catholic saints in those days: war leaders or martyrs? Rebels who kill with physical swords and weapons of war, or those whose combat is of a spiritual nature? And despite their many governmental persecutions, the New Testament is replete with admonitions to make no trouble against those in power – for, as the Bible itself makes clear:

    “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.”

    There may come a day in which a war can be justified. The Catechism itself makes this a possibility, which is fully consistent with everything I have written in the article above. Yet we should not desire to fight and kill, and in due patience we must submit ourselves to every lawful authority, esteeming that authority as coming from God. As our first obligation is to God, our first submission is to the Pope and the Bishops and only next to those who wield purely temporal authority. Likewise, if ever the Bishops and Pope apply the conditions of just war to a concrete situation (perhaps, say, the United States or France, Italy, Spain or Britain) then loyal Catholics will and should heed the call. Yet it is to the Bishops and the Pope that we should look to for such direction, not to individual believers who would rather fight than be killed for Christ. Those who follow individual believers into a revolution prior to Church direction will commit great folly, and very likely, grave sin.

  • http://www.tell-usa.org Robert Struble, Jr.

    Thank you, Mr. Besong, for your cordial response to my latest posting, and the kind things you said about my article, “Insurrection by Convention.”
    See, catholicexchange.com/2009/08/29/121298/

    Nonetheless I find your focus on submission to the President and other authorities impossible to swallow, much less digest, especially when you say that if we dishonor Obama we dishonor God. May I respectively suggest that you might give a little more attention to the letters between the committees of correspondence during the American Revolution which were headed, “no king but King Jesus;” or to John Adams’ definition of a republic as “a government of laws, not men.”

    Obama has no authority over us at all, as understood in Romans 13. We have a different sort of polity than St. Paul knew. Here the US Constitution is, or ought to be, “the Supreme Law of the Land.” Under God we have but one lex rex. Under the Constitution, high ranking human beings (i.e. government officials like the President, the Supreme Court Justices, US Senators) are not our rulers in the biblical sense at all. Instead they are public servants. Ben Franklin rated the officers of government as inferior in the political order to the merest American citizen.

    Insofar, then, as our public servants neglect to serve “we the people,” or violate their oath to uphold and protect the Constitution, they are at best recalcitrant politicians, and at worst rank criminals. We owe them no submission other than what prudence dictates. Allow me to quote two passages from the Summa Theologica by St. Thomas Aquinas:

    “A tyrannical regime is not just because it is not directed to the common good…. Consequently there is no sedition in disconcerting such a regime, unless … (the cure should be worse than the malady). Indeed it is the tyrant rather that is guilty of sedition, since he provokes discord and sedition among his subjects even as he seeks to assure his dominance.” (Summa Theologica, II 42)

    “Obedience to secular rulers is obligatory insofar as the order of justice requires us to obey. Consequently, when any governor holds power not justly but rather by means of usurpation, or he issues unjust ordinances, then we have no duty to obey; except perchance to avoid scandal or peril.” (Summa Theologica, 2a2ae, question 104, article 6, 3rd reply)

  • tadams1138

    “Yet we should not desire to fight and kill…” Straw man?

    “The Catechism itself makes this a possibility, which is fully consistent with everything I have written in the article above”

    No, the Catechism as sited above directly contradicts your whole paragraph starting with:

    “Pope Pius IX looks to have quashed revolutionary sentiments entirely in rejecting the thought that ‘It is lawful to withhold obedience to legitimate rulers, indeed even to rebel.’”

    While I agree that our government is legitimate, you cannot discuss Church teachings on “legitimate rulers” without establishing means of determining a ruler’s legitimacy. You might as well tell everyone to heed the word of a prophet without telling us how to tell the difference between a prophet and a crackpot. What has to happen for power from DC to become illegitimate?

  • Brian Besong

    Mr. Struble, unfortunately the laws that decide our philosophical definitions of leaders are not of the same authority as the Pope; whether or not our laws call any governmental official a “ruler” or “king,” they are far more than merely public servants (akin to glorified postmen, say). Insofar as any one person wields power to make decisions that are binding on the populace – and indeed our three branches of government have very much power to do that – then this power comes from above and is a divinely instituted phenomena, according to Pope Leo and the Church with him. You are assuming that just because our political documents set forth a certain philosophical notion of a leader (as no more than a civil servant), then that philosophical notion is binding on God and what sort of power He can give to our government officials. And yet God is not bound by our agreements or our laws. If we have a legitimate government, as Pope Leo explained, then it has majesty and authority that comes from God, and we must respect those who have such authority (i.e. President Obama, Congress, and justices of the Supreme Court) as we would respect God. Otherwise it has no legitimate authority at all. I urge you to read Diuturnum in its entirety. It is available on the Vatican’s website: http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/leo_xiii/encyclicals/documents/hf_l-xiii_enc_29061881_diuturnum_en.html

    T Adams, you are misreading what I wrote. Remember, I was looking for whether and if a moral justification for rebellion could be established according to the Church’s teaching: hence “Pope Pius IX looks to have quashed revolutionary sentiments…” I went on to say an objection could be made in the qualifier “legitimate.” However, the main way many people would seek to show this present government is illegitimate is the same way the original founders of the country saw their King as no longer legitimate – through ideas of a social contract that he has violated. Yet such a justification must be rejected by Catholics, and with it the easiest way of showing our present government is illegitimate. I have reiterated, in the comments, that this does not mean that all groups who call themselves governments are legitimate, but it does mean that we shouldn’t be looking for violations of a social contract in order to justify rebellion. Some other strategy must be found, if justification for rebellion can exist. The Catechism has specified some conditions which are, at present, likely satisfied by no country on earth (save, perhaps, Burma), so they are non-starters. Thus, no present government can be fought against by its own citizens without moral wrong, because all present governments have legitimate authority. Now you press me for a theory of legitimate authority. This is not necessary, given the scope of my article. All that is necessary is to show that this government is seen to be legitimate by our current Pope (and it is), and satisfies all the conditions for legitimacy that our Church has given us (and here I would also recommend to you to read Diuturnum because it talks about legitimacy of a ruler in the democratic process). Yes, they commit crimes and violate rights. So did Pontius Pilate.

  • Mary Kochan

    And then there is Winston Churchill: “If you will not fight for the right when you can easily win without bloodshed; if you will not fight when your victory will be sure and not too costly; you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you and only a small chance of survival. There may even be a worse case: you may have to fight when there is no hope of victory, because it is better to perish than to live as slaves.”

    I know, I know — not Magesterium, but I’m just sayin’…

  • bullockfamily2003

    Mr. Besong isn’t considering several things. First, let’s examine Holy Father John Paul II’s doctrine of what must be present to make a just Revolution:

    there is certain, grave, and prolonged violation of fundamental rights;
    . all other means of redress have been exhausted;
    . such resistance will not provoke worse disorders;
    . there is well-founded hope of success; and
    . it is impossible reasonably to foresee any better solution.”

    Than, let’s examine what Thomas Jefferson said in the Declaration of Independence:

    “When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”

    Now, let’s examine what some of the causes that impelled them to the separation actually were:

    “Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

    That sounds like certain, grave, and prolonged violation of fundamental rights to me.

    Jefferson, after listing these many abuses and usurpations, went on to say:

    “In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.”

    That sounds like all other means of redress had been exhausted. That by itself indicates that it was impossible reasonably to foresee any better solution.

    America had already been through the Boston Massacre, Lexington, Concord, and Bunker Hill by July of 1776. Concord resulted in a bunch of farmers with muskets driving away the best-trained army on earth. Bunker Hill resulted in a draw, with about 300 farmers holding their own against 3000 British regulars.

    Sounds like there was well-founded hope of success there. That leaves us with the criteria that such resistance will not provoke worse disorders.

    Well, the Declaration helped motivate the Continental Army into its daring passage across the Delaware on Christmas night 1776, and its stunning victory over Colonel Rall and his Hessian Troops. A few days later, the same Army stormed the British Garrison at Princeton, and a few months later it defeated the British forces at Saratoga.

    These men were real men, something we need now and seldom have.

  • Brian Besong

    Bullockfamily, what you have provided is not a historical analysis but a proof-texting of the requirements taken at face value from Thomas Jefferson’s complaints. However, a man who desires to rebel is going to exaggerate the offenses against him in order to find a suitable defense. Perhaps these quotations have some degree of merit, but they are biased sources and so the degree to which they are historically accurate must be examined by scholars who specialize in American history. I am not a historian. Yet, it is interesting that a history student (who read in detail the conditions prior to the revolutionary war), posted in support of the position that the conditions under the British crown were not sufficient to warrant rebellion. The fact that the American’s principle objection to Britain had to do with high taxes without local American representation in British parliament lends strong support to the view that no ‘certain, grave, and prolonged violation of fundamental rights’ occurred.

    However, it was not my intention to wade into the historical details; the main purpose of my essay was far less to see if the conditions in the British colonies warranted rebellion than to see if the justification for rebellion given by those colonies (a justification which is likely to come up among those today who are considering violent rebellion) was valid. It was not, and thus we cannot think about that justification for our time and place. It is possible that someday a war could be justly waged, in rebellion; however, in order to know the justice of such a war we should not look to individual citizens but to the Pope and the Bishops: At present, they treat our government and the governments of most (if not all) of the world as legitimately ruling. A similar situation existed toward the British crown during the revolutionary war in America, if I am not mistaken (and the revolutionary war in France, regarding the French crown). Since these legitimately rule, then many of the conclusions that I described above follow: these rulers deserve our esteem and honor, we must submit to them in all ways except sin, etc.

    I think Patriotic feelings about our country’s foundation are outweighing loyal submission of the will and intellect to the Pope, at present. It is amazing how few people are given pause by the historic teachings of the Church on submission to lawful authority. For if in these comments we saw people taking liberties in the proper interpretation of Casti Connubii (perhaps interpreting the document in a very broad way, looking for loopholes) or even dismissing such a document altogether as superseded in its conveyance of sacred Tradition by the contemporary Catechism, we would be justly offended. How is it that the teachings of Popes Leo and Pius are given such short shrift, and the historic Tradition on submission to lawful authority is seemingly treated as no more than an inconvenience to be explained away without scruple? This surprises me.

  • kent4jmj

    I believe our government is broken, seriously broken. Our elected officials have their own agendas that are in direct contradiction to the Constitution and the will of the people on any number of issues.

    I further believe that the chances for upheaval are real and much more probable than many would care to think about.

    The corruption and dishonesty in D.C. is overwhelming to me. The moral and spiritual decline of our country and its citizens is at the heart of it. I watch our government continue legislating laws that are nothing more than a massive power grab, while children continue to die in their mothers wombs, and wait for an event that will be used to justify them exercising fully the raw power they have made into law.

    One case in point is the new powers the state legislature of Mass. gave to its governor if a medical state of emergency is declared. It states that the state can enter any home of building, force vaccinations and fine or jail those not in compliance. I would think that children could be taken away from parents if deemed necessary under this law as well. Department of Homeland Security and the Patriot Act give the Federal government even more sweeping powers if the President declares a state of emergency. Powers the government did not have pre 9/11.

    If my analysis proves right then most people are in denial as to the severity of the problem. There are many examples in history of this happening. Europe and Germany pre WWII.

    If there is no peaceful revolution I believe our government will only get worse, much worse. At some point, I’m thinking sooner than later, it will be openly tyrannous. If some choose to fight at that point I may be standing next to them as they will be men and women of my community and parish. This is no exaggeration as I have had enough conversations with the men of this area to know that they will not stand by idly.

    The Churchill quote above hits the nail on the head. (Thanks Mary)

  • GaryT

    I was a little surprised to read this from the article:
    “it seems to me that there is something a little ominous in this pre-Revolutionary rhetoric. In particular, it seems to suggest the possibility (or even the merit) of a violent overthrow of the United States government”

    I was not aware that the people espousing actually following the constitution were suggesting that violence should be employed to do so.

    The reality is that the Constitution is being pretty well ignored in some important ways. Still we have the means to elect officials who might choose to start following it. Since our elections are generally fair, our officials are legitimate, even if their governing might not be.

    Violent overthrow worked in the American Revolution because enough of the population supported it. If enough of the US popualation today supported following the Constitution, then we would simply vote like-minded people into office and there would be no need of violence. Violence would only be legit if people refused to surrender the power that was no longer granted them, and our elections are a very easy way to identify this.

  • tadams1138

    And that is the answer, GaryT, that I was seeking. That is the test by which we, without any aid from the Pope, Bishops, etc, can determine whether or not our rulers are legitimate (at least in our situation). I suppose I may be getting repetitive, but it is not enough to say that you have to honor our President/Congressman/Justice because of the power he is bestowed by God. Nor is it enough to say that the Bishops and the Pope will tell you the correct time to rebel. The Church hierarchy has in the past (I’m loathe to say it) been corrupt and in more recent history ignorant of military and political realities. In grave matters such as rebellion, it is best to let the Church form our consciences and to let your conscience tell you when it is or is not appropriate to rebel for much the same reasons that just war theory puts the moral weight of the judgment on the national leader and does not say that the leader must follow the opinion of a Church leader.

  • http://www.tell-usa.org Robert Struble, Jr.

    As per Mr. Besong’s invitation, I have carefully read Diuturnum, written by Leo XIII in 1881, including section 15 where Pope Leo states: “if the will of rulers is opposed to the will and the laws of God, they themselves exceed the bounds of their own power and pervert justice; nor can their authority then be valid, which, when there is no justice, is null.”

    But Leo is writing for his time, and rightfully associates the seditions of the day with “…horrors, to wit, communism, socialism, nihilism, hideous deformities of the civil society of men and almost its ruin.” He is certainly not seeking to reach twelve decades into the future to contradict what would be the Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2243; nor to quench the spirit of 21st century citizens who might seek to restore America the Beautiful under God and the written Constitution.

  • bullockfamily2003

    1. As a degree holder in History and Government and Politics from a Catholic University, for you to call the Declaration of Independence a biased source is ridiculous and condescending on your part. Your responses to the rightfully expressed outrage at your proposals is indicative of your own lack of scholarship and professionalism.

    2. It was a war of INDEPENDENCE, not a revolution, that was waged by the thirteen colonies, as any decent history student, professional or otherwise, could tell you. All men yearn to be free, and the colonists responded to what they perceived to be egregious acts that violated their God given rights as Englishmen. This freedom and the yearning for it, comes directly from God.

    3. Stop pretending to be Sister Prejean, and justifying your so called readings of Church teaching in light of what Obama is doing to this country. These protesters have every right to do what they are doing, and only the Leftists are ginning up the fear and hate mongering to attribute the violence that has occurred at the feet of the protesters. The only violence that has occured has been done by the Left- SEIU, etc. and has been documented by the authorities of the areas in question.

    4. Stop being a girlie man- MAN UP.It is what Holy Mother Church expects of you, anyway.

  • bullockfamily2003

    Calling the Declaration of Independence a “biased source” is diversionary. In the war for Independence, there were two sides, so of course anything they have to say will be biased in their favor.

    Who would be an unbiased source? The Spanish? They weren’t fond of Britain because of the Spanish Armada. The Native peoples? They would have been biased because of the French and Indian war, which the British won.

    Even the Bible could be called biased by some.

    And by the way, the first shots at Lexington were fired on the orders of a British officer, because the farmers with their muskets disobeyed when he said “Disperse, ye Rebels!”. It was the British, then, that turned it into a war.

  • http://www.archangelreport.com congleal

    Brian,
    [Insulting language removed by CE editor.] It is [people] like you who have “submitted” our way into one of the most dangerous times in American History, dangerously poised on the precipice of socialism . To state that we blindly submit to leaders is ridiculously insane. Now is the time for Catholic Men to stand up and profess unapologetically what the Holy Roman Catholic Church stands for… preservation of life at all costs! To turn a blind eye on the abomination of mass slaughter of the unborn innocent as your leaders avow is wrong no matter how they package or “spin” their ideas.

    To preserve abortion in the Obama Health Care under the guise of Freedom of Choice; Women’s Rights; etc, etc to allow this to go unchallenged when you know it is wrong is insane. I’m not submitting!

    “It is admittedly very difficult to acknowledge, but Barack Obama and the Democratic Congress (as well as the justices on the Supreme Court) have power because God has granted power to them. Not only should they not be challenged insofar as they have power, but (as Pope Leo explained) they should in fact be esteemed and honored: possessing a dignity and majesty that is not merely human, but comes from God. I pray all Catholics are reminded of these facts as anger over the deficit and healthcare “reform” bill mounts, and the revolutionary rhetoric continues to heat up. We are called to respect and honor those who rule over us, and to submit to them unless they command us to sin.”

  • Mary Kochan

    Folks — CE will not tolerate personal insults in this comments section. Keep your comments focused on the argument and do not attack the person of the author who has courageously offered for discussion a controversial thesis.

    Also, let us every one — including you, Brian — assume the good will and faithfulness of each other. Everyone of us is a Catholic seeking to be formed by the Holy Spirit acting through the Church. Everyone of us is in the process of lifelong conversion, including constant education in our faith. Let’s open our hearts to one another in humility and honesty so we can grow in our faith and in the bonds of brotherly love.

    Thank you all for a rousing discussion,
    Mary Kochan, Senior Editor, Catholic Exchange

  • Mary Kochan

    Brian, it sounds like you are promoting a kind of “divine right of kings” mentality. I wouldn’t be nearly as worried about the subservient effect of that on the people as I would be worried about the heady, power-mad effect it would have on the rulers. I think history bears this out.

    You said that the British king at the time of the American Revolution was the legitimate ruler of the colonies and that rebellion against him was wrong. You have used the fact that the king was so recognized by the Church as evidence. Here is my questions: If the king was the legitimate ruler and the new government formed after the Revolutionary War was not legitimate, do you have a record of the Church rejecting the legitimacy of the new government? If the new government was not legitimate, due to it being formed in revolution, when did it acquire such legitimacy that we are now enjoined from contemplating revolution against it?

  • mclemen

    Of the two unrecognized assumptions in this string of postings the first is that revolution and bloodshed are necessarily equivalent. Yet, the American Revolution should be contrasted to the French Revolution and nearly every other before that, where for once a people revolting against the civil society of the time did not resort to the mass murder of those who offended them. Yes – war did follow – largely between armies, which is where warfare should remain. Those cases where American civilians took violence in their own hands were hardly commendable though history often makes heroes of them. But this is very different than the attempted extermination of an entire class, such as in late 18th century France.

    The larger legacy left to us through the Constitution is a mechanism for revolution without bloodshed – to go back to Mr. Struble’s phrase – Insurrection by Convention.

    The second unrecognized assumption seems to be that revolution must necessarily begin in Washington DC – whereas political revolution often occurs on the periphery, and a generation later takes the center. I would say that there is more than one mechanism left to us for revolution through the Constitution, and that is the formation of a State in the United States. There will be a 51st State. One day, there will be a State that is outside of the North American Continent. Maybe this is not as obvious – we now call this the “Homeland” – and yet the Constitution has no central Homeland as its frame of reference. The US Consistituion is based on principles, not location. Our rights do not come from where we live, nor even from the government that we live under.
    “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain ‘unalienable’ Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness”. Others around the world increasingly believe that also. Where will the 51st State be? The new Albanian parliament applied for consideration as the 51st State in the 1990′s – the US ignored it.

    A 51st State as different from American pop-culture as Albania would force us to reconsider what the Constitution really means, what principles really provide its foundation. Perhaps that is why Albania was ignored. Those new to freedom are its most conservative advocates. Our next State, and the one after that, and etcetera, may be the strongest means by which we may counter the continuing trend to Constitutional Revisionism.

  • SolaGratia

    I’m not an intellectual giant nor a student of history – just a relatively plain & simple schmuck. With my lowly insight, I will share that I think the connotation of some words being used here is what puts people off from the message.

    For example, “honor”. Obama is our rightfully elected president – the honor we owe him is that due his office. IOW, we respect the person who is president of our country because they are president. This is no different (as it stems from the same Commandment) as honoring our parents. Some of us have parents who are not personally worthy of honor or respect, yet they are due respect & consideration as our parents because parenthood is worthy of respect. This is true for all positions of legitimate authority, and the presidency is still legitimate even if the president himself is questionable.

    It is when those authorities begin to act in ways which are detrimental to that authority or office that there must be intervention (similar to the kid who turned in his parents for illegal drug use, or when a child is being abused & the court appoints foster parents).

    I am not sure of the laws regarding taxation & representation in Britain during the time of the Revolutionary War. However, there is ample reason to suspect that our current leader is attempting to modify the authority of his office and the form of our government.

    If this is true, then he is acting illegally & traitorously – it is he & his cronies who are trying to overthrow the current political system – and must be stopped. Certainly, we should use whatever non-violent means are at our disposal to strip them of power, but should be prepared for the possibility of having to use force if necessary.

    That would not be a Revolutionary War – for we would only be seeking to preserve the original govt; it is the liberal socialists who appear to want to overthrow it – so it would likely be another civil war. May God grant that it not reach that point!

  • http://www.tell-usa.org Robert Struble, Jr.

    Lclemen’s proposal for a 51st state is intriguing. The problem with all reforms that must secure the approval of Congress is, however, that Congress has become part of the problem. Senators and Congressmen will reject radical solutions, especially ones like robust term limits that conflict with their political self-interest as career politicians.

    Therefore, 51st statehood is a strategy well below the Article V convention in terms of likelihood of success: Please take into account the following three considerations:

    1. Congress is authorized to accept or reject applications for statehood. In other words, they would have the legal high ground against admitting the 51st state to the union. Under Article V, however, once two-thirds of the states apply for a convention, Congress is legally obliged to call the convention into session. The “Federalist Papers” contain Hamilton’s observation that if two-thirds of the states ever apply to Congress for a convention, then under Article V the words shall call a Convention are “peremptory” and in the particular of whether Congress issues such a call, “nothing is left to the discretion of that body.” In 1789 Madison wrote to a Virginia clergyman, “the question concerning a General Convention, will not belong to the federal Legislature. If two-thirds of the States apply for one, Congress cannot refuse to call it:…”

    So, unlike the issue of statehood, Congress cannot stonewall a convention call by 34 states without surrendering the legal high ground. If the regime becomes that egregious in defying the Constitution, it will be illegitimate in the eyes of informed observers, and therefore in a weaker position to maintain itself against a populist upsurge, i.e. against the electoral process, and/or civil disobedience, and/or armed insurrection.

    Who knows, the refusal of Congress to do its duty under Article V could potentially open a fissure in the regime between the legislative and judicial branches. But I wouldn’t be too optimistic about the latter scenario.

    2. Admission of states from this continent is well precedented; and though not contiguous, Alaska is in North America. Hawaii has nothing but water between the archipelago and the other 49 states. Albania, however, is in Europe, and admission of a longstanding European country would be harder to sell in terms of public relations. Maybe there’s a Carribean island that would not face this problem. Do you support statehood for Puerto Rico?

    3. A convention would, or should, have a specific prototype amendment as its agenda long before it is called. The prototype amendment would provide the public with a clear raison d’etre in terms of principles slated for restoration – principles that would motivate efforts on behalf of a convention. But campaigning on behalf of statehood for Albania or some other foreign country would make the rationale far more nebulous for supporters to articulate and advocate on the level of the principles that deserve restoration.

  • http://www.tell-usa.org Robert Struble, Jr.

    Sorry, my previous post was in response to mclemen, not lclemen.

  • kent4jmj

    Folks I enjoyed the debate. I side against Brian. The arguments that challenged his positions were, for the most part, very intelligently expressed. Obviously Mr. Besong has a vested interest to defend his positions but the exercise in academic debate misses the mark. I think his arguments are very short sided. I further believe that our situation as a Nation is much more grave than is commonly accepted.

    The Titanic is sinking! I think Ron Paul was our best hope. But he was rejected. The Grass Roots movements for freedom are very encouraging but fall short as they have not captured enough Americans to turn things around.

    I say again the Titanic is sinking. Our ship of state is going down. To trust our government to do the right thing, especially if a “State of Emergency” is called, is naive at best.

    Stock up and keep the powder dry. God Bless.

  • SolaGratia

    kent4jmj,

    While the situation may look bad to you, it is important to remember that it is easy to follow only the news that grabs our interest & that our perspective can easily become imbalanced toward despair. That is not of God.

    It is certainly prudent to prepare for the worst, but we must still be hoping (praying, fasting & sacrificing) for the best! Remember that God does not need a massive army (or even Ron Paul) to defeat the Midianites! ;-)

    ~Grace

  • Cyclist443

    In order to communicate effectively at the Ph.D level, it helps to nail down the difference between “principle” and “principal.”

    Intriguing article. Thanks for bringing up the topic.

  • kent4jmj

    Sola

    I think you may be assuming too much. I have great hope for the future as I believe God will triumph.

    There may be very good and legitimate reasons why some news grabs our attention. Shouldn’t we give someone the benefit of the doubt? Ex.The main stream media will not report accurately that the Fed is a private bank that usurps Congress’ Constitutional mandate to coin money. Instead we have congress with its own private piggy bank that it can borrow from, seemingly without limit. They get their money, the bank gets its money and we, for the most part, don’t see the massive Theft of our hard earned money because of this very mutually beneficial set up.

    As for Ron Paul, no God does not need him, I just think that he had the best ideas and vision to meet the political needs of this time. As time goes by his ideas concerning the Constitution and Free Markets make more and more sense. God does give us opportunities, real practical ones, to solve our problems but if we refuse them then things get worse.

    Yes the situation does look bad to me. My analysis of our times is open to correction but yes I think the situation grave. So too does a weatherman tracking a killer storm system. Do we tell him to ignore the storm and get more “positive” and “less negative”?

    I see a storm, others don’t. When I say that I see a storm the range of responses are almost predictable. Thanks for your input. God Bless you and yours.

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