A Form of Government May Be Preferable, Because It Is Better Suited to the Character or Customs of the People for Which It Is Intended

June 2, 2011


In his encyclical Au milieu des solicitudes (February 16, 1892), Leo XIII writes:

“Various political governments have succeeded one another in France during the last century, each having its own distinctive form: the Empire, the Monarchy, and the Republic.

Napoleon by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres

By giving oneself up to abstractions, one could at length conclude which is the best of these forms, considered in themselves; and in all truth, it may be affirmed that each one of them is good, provided it lead straight to its end—that is to say, to the common good for which social authority is constituted; and finally, it may be added that, from a relative point of view, such and such a form of government may be preferable because of being better adapted to the character and customs of such or such a nation.

In this order of speculative ideas, Catholics, like all other citizens, are free to prefer one form of government to another precisely because no one of these forms is, in itself, opposed to the principles of sound reason nor to the maxims of Christian doctrine.”

Patrice de Mac Mahon, France’s president of the Third Republic, from 1873 to 1879.

Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira, Nobility and Analogous Traditional Elites in the Allocutions of Pius XII: A Theme Illuminating American Social History (York, Penn.: The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family, and Property, 1993), Appendix IV, p. 393.



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