A Saintly President? Part 3
April 6, 2017
The virtue of justice will be considered in this third and final part. It is quite necessary that this virtue be properly understood as it is to be applied in this realm.
The word Justice, if understood in its primary and original sense, would mean the exact agreement between one thing and something else with which it is meant to conform. Traces of this original meaning still survive in English in the verb to adjust. In its derived or metaphorical sense, the word Justice is sometimes used to mean the conformity or agreement between a man’s acts and the moral law. In this sense Justice would be the sum of all the moral virtues. Thus, we read in Scripture of St. Joseph “being a just man.”
The term, however, is ordinarily used in a much more restricted sense. It refers to the mutual relations between two persons, and implies a conformity or agreement between the acts of one and the rights of the other. In this last sense, which is the ordinary one, we may regard Justice as a habit or virtue of the human will inclining one to act justly. Thus, St. Thomas defines Justice as: A constant and permanent habit or intention to give each one his due.
We may, however, look on Justice from another point of view, and consider it not as a virtue or habit of the will but rather as the reality outside the person (viz., the objective relations or proprieties) with which the virtue of the will must be in harmony. Justice considered from this standpoint (viz., Objective Justice as the Scholastics term it) may be defined as: the relation of equality between two persons , in virtue of which one is bound to give the other his due. In other words Justice, regarded objectively, is nothing else than the law of nature, which demands that each person get his due or his rights from everybody else.
Objective Justice is based on what is called personal equality. Persons alone can possess rights, and all persons are equal in so far as the rights of all are inviolable. Hence, the acts or omissions of others, in order to be lawful, must be adjusted to be equal to or in conformity with these rights. This conformity or equation is Objective Justice.
We may note also that not only an individual, but also a moral body, such as the State or the Church, may be regarded as a person, and so have rights which are inviolable, just like the rights of individual persons. Such a moral person may also have duties in its corporate capacity. Thus, the relations with which Justice is concerned may apply not only to an individual person, but also to a moral unit like the State.
The distinction of persons which Justice requires need not always be complete from every point of view. Thus, there can be real relations of Justice between an individual citizen and the State of which he is the member; for the State, considered as a moral person has an end and purpose of its own (which is the common good) and, therefore, a distinct moral personality. In order to attain that end, it needs, and by the law of nature has a right to the cooperation of each of its members. In other words, the State has rights against its own members. The members, too, have rights against the State. For the citizen needs the help of the State, and has a right to that help. Now, these reciprocal rights and duties between the State and the individual citizens manifestly point to a distinction of personality sufficient for real relations of Justice.
One does not wish to write this article in such a way as to become so technical that it is difficult to understand, but there are certain aspects of justice which must be explained in such a manner that it is clear to the reader.
There are two other types of justice which must be explained: legal and distributive justice, although in a briefer review.
Legal justice may be described as the virtue or law of nature binding every member of the State to contribute his due share in safeguarding and promoting the common good. Legal Justice lies in the fact that the State is a creation of nature like the family, and needs the cooperation of its members in order to perform its essential functions (name, to procure the common good), or even to exist. Hence, the members of the State are bound by the natural law to give that co-operation; and the State has the duty and the right to exact it.
These rights and obligations bind all men equally in their relations to one another, while the mutual rights and duties of the State and its members do not extend to those outside the State. They are the essential ties uniting the members of the State into one whole and differentiating them from others.
Finally, Legal Justice must not be confounded with such virtues as charity, patriotism, and liberality, although the proximate motive of some of the acts of these virtues may be the common good.
“Legal Justice,” says St. Thomas …. “resides in the ruler principally, as if he were the architect and director of the building: and in the subjects in a secondary way as if they were the assistants.”
Distributive Justice may be defined as the law of nature by which the State is bound to secure for each of the citizens his due and proportionate share of the advantages and helps which are the end and purpose of civil society; and to allot the public burdens in due equitable proportion.
The rulers’ duties under Distributive Justice are Juridical-that is, they imply corresponding rights in those towards whom they lie. Hence, the individual members of the State have each and all the right that the rulers deal equitably with them in distributing the advantages and allotting the burdens of citizenship …
From the basic principles of Distributive Justice, one may deduce the following conclusions: 1.) Rights of Protection – All the citizens have exactly the same right to Peace-that is, to security against violent interference with their rights. It is a primary duty of the State to defend and uphold by just laws , fairly administered, and by an impartial administration of justice (sufficiently cheap and expeditious to be within the reach of the poorest citizen), the personal safety, the inalienable rights, the liberty and the property rights of every one of the citizens.
2.) Access to the Public Utilities – The use of the public utilities which the State provides, or indirectly subsidises, from the public funds-roads, railways, postal service, public hospitals, etc.-should be equally open to all. This principle is crystallized in such phrases as: “the King’s highway,” which implies that the public highway is owned by the King (or by the State) in trust for all the people, and cannot be monopolized by any individual or class.
3.) Taxes should not Infringe upon Necessaries of Life – No public burdens (such as taxes) should infringe upon the necessaries of life: for, ordinarily, a man’s first duty is to himself and his family. These needs should therefore be supplied before he can be justly compelled to contribute by taxes and services to the public good.
4.) All should have a Fair Opportunity of Securing Necessaries – The Government is bound so to adjust the laws regulating property rights that every citizen of normal capacity and industry may have a fair opportunity of securing by honest labor a tolerable degree of human happiness and well-being. The providing of such an opportunity for its members is one of the essential ends and purposes of civil society; and as the poor and weak are more in need of protection and assistance in this regard than the wealthy, Distributive Justice demands that their needs be specially attended to.
“When there is a question,” writes Pope Leo XIII, “of defending the rights of individuals, the poor and badly off have a claim to special consideration … the mass of the poor have no resources of their own to fall back upon and must depend chiefly upon the assistance of the State.” – Rerum Novarum.
From this summary of the virtue of Justice, one understands the necessary responsibilities and duties of leaders of nations regardless of their title (president, prime minister, etc.). The President of the United States would be wrong to favor one group (special interests, such as corporations, etc.) over other groups.
The burdensome regulations of this time are nothing more than the implementation of a socialist political agenda. The only agenda a president ought to have is to work for the common good of all citizens. This does not mean a president should work for political influence by providing limitless government aid (entitlement programs). This is an abuse of power and immoral use of taxpayer dollars. There needs to be an objective balance between helping the poor and needy and providing an environment where employment is readily available. Political party politics is immoral favoritism. Promoting socialism of any degree (Marxism, Communism, etc.) is sinful. The Church has previously spoken on this issue and has clearly condemned it. Promoting the aborting of the unborn and homosexuality is a mortal sin of the highest degree. These sins are especially harmful to the common good regardless of the Supreme Court’s decision. There are other issues in this country which need to be addressed but the reader ought to understand the premise of Justice.
It is also important for the citizen to understand their duties to the State. The duties are present even though the government may be immoral. Wrongs by the government do not allow the citizen to also do wrong-“two wrongs do not make a right!” Yes, taxes must be paid and just civil laws need to be obeyed.
It is possible for a president to be a moral and saintly man. The past has proven this. When a nation has numerous bad leaders, it may be a sign that God is punishing a sinful nation. It would certainly seem to be the case presently in the United States.
How many citizens of this country pray for its leaders each day? We are a nation that likes to complain about its leadership, or lack thereof, but who has been willing to pray for them? Did you give any thought to praying for or having Masses said for the conversion of a president, senator or congressman? Many today mock the thought of a Catholic monarchy, but it seems as though most of the good leaders of nations were Catholic royalty. This, of course, is nothing more than a Judeo-Masonic ruse to undermine the ideal of the Catholic Monarchy.
If one in anyway desires the conversion of the U. S. Government and this nation of many people, faithful prayer is essential. Combine the Church and State and clearly demonstrate this is the only way you will save this nation!
Fr. Joseph Noonan, OFM