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A Xt3 Member asked at 12:06pm on August 16th 2018
What does the Catholic Church teaches on monarchy? Also, what does the church teach on divine right of kings, coronation ceremony and anointing of kings?.

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Hi Olamide, Christ taught us very clearly, 'Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's' (Mt 22:21). St Peter wrote, clearly separating our political from our religious duties, 'Fear God. Honour the emperor' (1 Pt 2:17). In Chapter 13 of St Paul's Letter to the Romans, he begins by saying-since some Christians were making the mistake of thinking they could do what they liked, independent of the political situation they found themselves in: 'Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God' (Rm 13:1).

This isn't all that different from what Jesus said to the Roman Governor, Pontius Pilate: 'You would have no power over me unless it had been given to you from above' (Jn 19:11). Of course this doesn't mean Christians are bound to obey unjust laws (like those permitting abortion or euthanasia), or those of an evil ruler like Hitler or Stalin, insofar as they went against morality. That's why St Paul goes on to give the context that obliges Christians: 'Owe no one anything, except to love one another' (Rm 13:8), and the further context, that our time on earth is limited, 'For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed' (Rm 13: 11).

The whole history of the Jewish people showed how their kings were under God, not gods, as the rulers of the great empires around them claimed for themselves. And in the light of Christ's teaching, no Christian king could claim to be above the law of God. The whole development of, for example, English Common Law was based on this principle. Just to take one example, Henry of Bracton (1210-1268) wrote that 'the king himself out not to be under man but under God, and under the law, because the law makes the king.' And he takes the example of Christ, who 'was willing to be under the Law, "that he might redeem those who were under the Law."' Some profoundly misguided monarchs like James the VIth of Scotland and 1st of England claimed this 'divine right of kings' but it has no basis in English law, and course the 20th century has seen various 'empires' claiming total control of their subjects, in Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia, present day Communist China, North Korea, not to forget numerous tinpot rulers like President Maduro in Venezuela, and I'm sure you could add a few more to that list.

So, the Church, right from the time of Christ, while it may sometimes have become uncomfortably close to endorsing this or that time of regime, monarchic, oligarchic, republican, whatever, its basic aim is to help its followers to live the Gospel, and this can happen in most political setups.

Whatever ceremonies that get attached to those who happen to be in power, like the coronation and anointing that occur in the British monarchic system, or the inauguration of the US or Russian President, belong to those countries' traditions and have their own value, in some cases accepting a religious aspect to political power. But the Church isn't tied as such to any political structure, asking only that it be run honestly and justly for the sake of the good of all the country's citizens. Very best, Fr Brendan
Xt3's Ask a Priest answered at 4:36pm on August 27th 2018 reply

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