Pacem In Terris 70-72: Law and Conscience

On one hand, a legal system rooted in justice provides a foundation:

70. There can be no doubt that a State juridical system which conforms to the principles of justice and rightness, and corresponds to the degree of civic maturity evinced by the State in question, is highly conducive to the attainment of the common good.

And if Pope John thought life was complicated fifty years ago, imagine his thoughts today …

71. And yet social life is so complex, varied and active in this modern age, that even a juridical system which has been established with great prudence and foresight often seems inadequate to the need.

72. Moreover, the relations of citizens with each other, of citizens and intermediate groups with public authorities, and the relations between public authorities of the same State, are sometimes seen to be of so ambiguous and explosive a nature, that they are not susceptible of being regulated by any hard and fast system of laws.

In such cases, if the authorities want to preserve the State’s juridical system intact—in itself and in its application to specific cases—and if they want to minister to the principal needs of society, adapt the laws to the conditions of modern life and seek solutions to new problems, then it is essential that they have a clear idea of the nature and limits of their own legitimate spheres of action. Their calmness, integrity, clear sightedness and perseverance must be such that they will recognize at once what is needed in a given situation, and act with promptness and efficiency.( Cf. Pius XII’s broadcast message, Christmas 1944, AAS 37 (1945) 15-16)

Once again, we read of a wartime predecessor’s reflection. Mentioned first is an awareness of limitations. Then a short list of important qualities. Unfortunately, these qualities of calm, integrity, clear sight, and perseverance are missing even from the Church’s juridical actions. Is the curia prompt and efficient?


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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One Response to Pacem In Terris 70-72: Law and Conscience

  1. Liam says:

    “Is the curia prompt and efficient?”

    Be careful what you pray for….

    Btw, here’s the complete 1944 Christmas message of Pius XII:

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