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Dear Father Angelo,

I am writing to you because there is a question about morality that is not clear to me, and although I can resolve it independently with the assistance of the Holy Spirit or by reading here and there (for example the many moral writings that have already clarified everything) I ask all the same because the confirmation of a priest is always to be preferred, if this priest is faithful to Orthodoxy in this time of doctrinal confusion.

Saint Paul writes in his letters that one must obey one’s parents in everything, and therefore any authority accordingly. But it would be madness if one also obeyed what would constitute a violation of morality and constitute a sin, or even worse, even a criminal and civil crime. For example: if a mother ordered her daughter to have an abortion, should the daughter obey? If a father ordered his son to kill someone, should the son obey? I realize that they are borderline cases, often uncommon, at least the last example I gave, except for cases in which the parent belongs to crime, whether organized or not. But it often happens that mothers in these times in which everyone believes everything they want, in a climate of moral anarchy, agree with what morality prohibits.

I realize that my questions already contain the answer, but I would kindly like to be enlightened anyway.

Thank you.

Peace and love.

Francesco


Priest’s answer

Dear Francesco,
1. yes, it is necessary to obey parents because for us they are the first representatives of God.

In the Catechism of the Catholic Church we read: “Those subject to authority should regard those in authority as representatives of God, who has made them stewards of his gifts” (CCC 2238).
This is valid for all our superiors, but first and foremost for our parents.

2.In the letter to Titus we read:“ Remind them to be under the control of magistrates and authorities, to be obedient, to be open to every good enterprise” (Tt 3,1).
And in Sirach: “With your whole heart honor your father; your mother’s birth pangs forget not.Remember, of these parents you were born; what can you give them for all they gave you?” (Sir 7,27-28).
Same in the book of Proverbs: “Observe, my son, your father’s bidding, and reject not your mother’s teaching; Keep them fastened over your heart always, put them around your neck. When you walk they will lead you; when you lie down, they will watch over you” (Pr 6, 20-22).

3. Precisely because they are representatives of God, it is necessary to obey God before parents.

So if they command something contrary to God’s law, they must not obey.

In fact, evil should never be done.

We have a beautiful example of this from the apostles. When the civil authorities forbade speaking about Jesus, they responded: “We must obey God rather than men” (At 5,29). 

4. So if the parents’ commands are contrary to the commandments of God, as in the cases you hypothesized, they should not be followed.

5. This is why the Catechism of the Catholic Church recites: “As long as a child lives at home with his parents, the child should obey his parents in all they ask of him when it is for his good or that of the family
«Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord» (Col 3,20).
Children should also obey the reasonable directions of their teachers and all to whom their parents have entrusted them.
But if a child is convinced in conscience that it would be morally wrong to obey a particular order, he must not do so” (CCC 2217).

6. Mind you: the CCC says “if in conscience they are convinced that it would be morally wrong. This means: if it is contrary to the law of God i.e. if it commands to do evil. And not simply because one specific thing seems more opportune than another.
If they command us to do good, even if it seems to us that it is not the best thing, they must be obeyed.
It often happens that, precisely because of obedience, those in authority understand that our thoughts were more appropriate and give the green light.

Obedience, especially when it is for the Lord, performs even these small miracles.

I bless you, I wish you all the best and I remember you in prayer.

Padre Angelo