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97. Changes in Law

1. Human laws are made by fallible man. They are thereforesubject to change as men gain more experience and are thus enabledto frame laws that more and more consistently serve the generalwelfare. Further, there may arise in a society conditions whichrequire new laws or alterations in existing laws.

2. Yet frequent or sudden changes in human laws are to beavoided. To serve its purpose, law requires a certain permanence; achange is, in itself, usually prejudicial to the general welfare.Therefore, unless the good to be achieved by change is great enoughto warrant the upheaval occasioned by the change itself, law is notto be altered.

3. Human reason which puts laws into words ofenactment may also express itself in deeds. And thuscustoms arise to serve the common good. Customs can cometo have the force of law itself. Indeed, it is possible for customto become so firmly and widely established that it supplantsexisting statute law. For the rest, custom is regularly thestandard by which existing law is interpreted.

4. It may be that a law which works generally for thecommon welfare is found, in certain cases, to inflict damage uponindividuals. The person in charge of the society concerned may, insuch instances, excuse the individuals from observing the law. Theauthoritative decree of excuse is called a dispensationfrom the law.

"Happy is the youth, because he has time before him to do good. "
St Philip Neri

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"This is the greatest wisdom -- to seek the kingdom of heaven through contempt of the world. "
Thomas á Kempis

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"The one thing necessary which Jesus spoke of to Martha and Mary consists in hearing the word of God and living by it."
R. Garrigou-Lagrange, OP

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