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Friday, February 25, 2011

Governance and God

The newspapers are full of governments falling after having been in power for decades, and there are protests of various sorts about governmental actions in our own country.  A human government is legitimate if it is acceptable in a broad sense to its people, if it governs according to the natural moral law that governs all human actions, and if it is acceptable to God, who governs the universe.  How to make all three criteria evident is the subject of political theory.

Human governments often fall because they abuse their power; and skeptics reject divine Providence for similar reasons: God is supposed to be powerful but he doesn’t protect his creatures from disaster.  The standard answer to this taunt from unbelievers lies in the relation between God’s power and our freedom.  We struggle with the question of evil in personal terms each time we freely sin and push God from our lives, not allowing him to govern us.  We struggle with the question of evil in historical terms each time the innocent suffer, youngsters are abused, citizens are betrayed.

Spiritually, we learn to trust in God only by knowing him more intimately in prayer.  Not everything makes sense, but God gives us courage to live through tragedy with the deep conviction that, in the end, all will be well.  In the meantime, he tells us to help one another.

Francis Cardinal George, O.M.I.

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