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'Render unto Caesar'


Regarding the delicate issue of the relations to be maintained with the agencies of the State, particular enlightenment can be found in the invitation of the Second Vatican Council to follow the words and modus operandi of Jesus Christ. 


He, indeed, did not wish to be a political Messiah who would dominate by force but preferred to call himself the Son of Man who came to serve, and 'to give his life as a ransom for many' (Mk 10: 45).

He showed himself as the perfect Servant of God who 'will not break a bruised reed or quench a smoldering wick' (Mt 12: 20).  He recognized' civil authority and its rights when he ordered tribute to be paid to Caesar; but he gave dear warning that the greater rights of God must be respected: 'Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God, the things that are God's (Mt 22: 21)'.

Finally, he brought his revelation to perfection when he accomplished on the cross the work of redemption by which he achieved Salvation and true freedom for human race.  For he bore witness to the truth but refused to use force to impose it on those who spoke out against it.  His Kingdom does not establish its claims by force, but is established by bearing witness to and listening to the truth and it grows by the love with which Christ, lifted up on the cross, draws people to himself (see Jn 12: 32)"...

However, if the image of Caesar was stamped on Roman coins which for this reason were to be rendered to him the human heart bears the imprint of the Creator, the one Lord of our life.  Genuine secularism does not mean, therefore, leaving the spiritual dimension out of consideration but rather recognizing that it is precisely this that radically guarantees our freedom and autonomy from earthly realities, thanks to the dictates of creative Wisdom which the human conscience is capable of accepting and actuating.



Pope Benedict XVI. "Render unto Caesar." from Letter of the Holy father Pope Benedict XVI to the Bishops, Priests, Consecrated Persons, and Lay Faithful of the Catholic Church in the People's Republic of China (May 27, 2007).

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The Author

Benedict73smBenedict72Pope Benedict XVI is the author of Jesus of Nazareth, Vol II, Jesus of Nazareth, Vol I, Caritas in Veritate: Charity in Truth, Saved in Hope: Spe Salvi, God Is Love: Deus Caritas Est,The End of Time?: The Provocation of Talking about God, Truth and Tolerance: Christian Belief and World Religions, Without Roots: The West, Relativism, Christianity, Islam, Salt of the Earth: An Exclusive Interview on the State of the Church at the End of the Millennium, God and the World: Believing and Living in Our Time, In the Beginning: A Catholic Understanding of the Story of Creation and the Fall, The Spirit of the Liturgy, The Ratzinger Report: An Exclusive Interview on the State of the Church, Introduction to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Introduction to Christianity, Called to Communion: Understanding the Church Today, Milestones: Memoirs 1927-1977, Behold the Pierced One, and God Is Near Us: The Eucharist, the Heart of Life.

Copyright © 2011 Liberia Editrice Vaticana
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