Thursday, November 11, 2010

Jesuit Saint And The US Constitution

It is likely that both Thomas Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence and James Madison, the architect of the Constitution, 
were familiar with the writings of the Jesuit saint Cardinal Robert Bellarmine. Bellarmine argued against a Divine Right of Kings. This was the idea that Kings received their authority directly from God, and thus to obey the King is to obey God. Instead, Bellarmine argued that all power, including political power came from God and was given to the people. The people then entrusted this power to their leaders. 
That is why we should take our responsibility to vote very seriously, and not base our vote on such superficial reasons as charm, looks or mere party politics, but instead on character, integrity, experience and where the candidates stand on the most important issues, especially involving human rights. In the Declaration, Jefferson wrote “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.--That to secure these rights, 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, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”
Link (here) to read the  full homily by Fr. Peter West at Priest for Life

1 comment:

TonyD said...

"Bellarmine argued that all power, including political power came from God and was given to the people."

This is not true. Things in this existence reflect God's values, but that doesn't mean that any particular thing is what God would prefer.

If you have a child, and want that child to learn decision-making, you would allow that child make poor decisions. That does not mean that you want a particular decision to be made, in fact, you might much prefer that a different decision was made. But the decision made by the child would reflect your underlying values and be allowed.

The "divine right of kings" has been abused. That does not mean that it is not real, just that it can only reflect the very human people who hold such power.