Obedience - A Maligned and Misunderstood Virtue


The principle of obedience as laid down by St. Thomas says 'nothing' about trusting one's superiour.  Probably because to make a principle subject to how one feels about the person issuing the command is the essence of liberalism.

The Catholic principle is laid out as follows:
  1. The person issuing the command is in a position of authority over the inferior
  2. The command is within the scope of the superior's authority
  3. The command does not require the inferior to sin, either in the immediate or proximate case.
  4. If the above conditions are met then the person has an obligation to obey. Disobedience in this case is sinful.
  5. Whereas if #3 is lacking (sinful command) then the person has an obligation to disobey
  6. Whereas if #1 or #2 is lacking the person practice greater virtue in obeying a command that is not obligatory.
Now if conditions 1,2, and 3 are met - then the inferior whether they trust the superior or not are obliged to obey and it is sinful not to do so.

The point is that you have to trust God.

In this case the person is obedient and places their trust in God to protect them because they (the inferior) have established within their power that the command does not constitute an immediate or proximate sin.

An example of these principles put into practice, in my opinion, is present in the discussions between Rome and the SSPX, more particularly between the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) and Bishop Fellay, the Superior General of the SSPX.

Reference: Summa Theologica Second Part of the Second Part, Question 104


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