Good Christians Pay Taxes, Says Pope

Comments on Duty to Be Law-abiding Citizens

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 31, 2007 ( Good Christians must also be good citizens, and this implies even the unpleasant task of paying taxes, says Benedict XVI.

The Pope said this today to the more than 30,000 rain-soaked participants at the general audience in St. Peter’s Square. The Pontiff, continuing his series of meditations on the Fathers of the Church, spoke of St. Maximus, the bishop of Turin.

Maximus became bishop in 398, and according to the Holy Father, “contributed decisively to the spread and consolidation of Christianity in northern Italy.”

Although there is little biographical information on the saint, Benedict XVI spoke of the contribution of Bishop Maximus based on 90 written sermons.

The bishop lived at a time when life in Turin was at a turning point, said the Pope. The Roman Empire was losing civil authority, and the city was continuously threatened by barbarian invaders.

“The interventions of Maximus in the face of this situation bears witness to his commitment to do something about civil degradation and disaggregation,” said the Pontiff. “Maximus, facing the collapse of the civil authority of the Roman Empire, felt fully authorized to exercise a true and proper power of control over the city.”

To this end, according to the Holy Father, the bishop dedicated various sermons to the duty of Christians to also be good citizens. “Not only do many Christians not distribute what they have, but they also plunder the possessions of others,” Maximus told his flock.

The bishop likened the actions of a Christian engaged in thievery as “a wolf who preys on pigs,” and urged his audience to “act like Christians.”

Nitty gritty

Benedict XVI noted: “Maximus not only dedicated himself to reigniting in the faithful a traditional love for their native city, but also proclaimed that it was their duty to take on fiscal responsibilities, as serious and unpleasant as they may be.

“In short, the tone and substance of his Sermons assume a mature and growing awareness of the political responsibility of a bishop in specific historical circumstances.”

The Pope called Maximus the city’s “watchtower,” who “‘like a sentinel’ was situated on the highest rock in the city” to be on the lookout for threats to its security.

Benedict XVI acknowledged that much has changed since the time of Maximus, but “independent of changed conditions, the duties of the believer toward his city and homeland remain valid. The intimate relationship between the ‘honest citizen’ and the ‘good Christian’ continues to stand.”

Summarizing the address in English, the Pope said: “Christian believers are called upon to carry out faithfully their duties as citizens, working to imbue temporal society with the spirit of the Gospel, and striving to achieve a vital synthesis between their duties as citizens of the earthly city and their commitment to work for the coming of God’s kingdom of holiness, justice and peace.”

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