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96. The Power of Human Law

1. Human law, according to the Pandects of Justinian,"should be made to suit the majority of instances, not forwhat may possibly happen in individual cases." As St. Isidoresays (Etym. ii): "Law should be framed for the commongood of all citizens, and not for any private benefit." It isapparent then that human laws are primarily for the communityrather than for any individual member of the community.

2. In prohibiting, human laws cannot referspecifically to all human vices, but only to the more grievousones, and chiefly those that are hurtful to fellowmen (such astheft or murder) and which must be prohibited if the necessaryorder of life in human society is to be maintained.

3. Nor can human laws, in commanding, prescribeevery act of every virtue by special enactment. Human law mustprescribe all virtues that serve the common good, but not in fulldetail.

4. Just human laws derive, through the natural law, fromthe eternal law. Hence such laws bind a man in conscience. Unjusthuman laws do not bind in conscience, except to the extent that aman must endure some hardship rather than upset an establishedsystem of harmonious rule. But laws which are unjust because theydirectly contravene God's law are not only not binding, but aman is bound in conscience to disregard them, to oppose them, andto do what he can to have them revoked.

5. Human law binds all its subjects equally, and withoutexception.

6. The letter of the law is to be observed except wheresuch observance would be harmful to the general welfare. Sometimesnecessity dispenses from law. When pressure of necessity is not sosuddenor strong as to demand instant decision, a dispensationfrom the law is to be obtained from those in authority.

"When the devil has failed in making a man fall, he puts forward all his energies to create distrust between the penitent and the confessor, and so by little and little he gains his end at last."
St Philip Neri

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"As the flesh is nourished by food, so is man supported by prayers"
St Augustine

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"The greatest glory we can give to God is to do his will in everything."
St Alphonsus de Liguori

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