The state is a form of organizing the life of a nation. Every people strives to preserve its identity through the creation of a state. As a political community, the state exists for the common good when, through its pertinent activities, it deepens, actualizes, and defends the moral values of a people. Such a state can successfully promote the development of every individual, if it does not neglect the fundamental social values of freedom, justice, and equality.
The state performs its functions through the mechanism of political rule. Governance is needed to coordinate the efforts of citizens in achieving the common good. One of the fundamental responsibilities of the state is to limit various manifestations of evil through due process of the law. In this respect, political governance is the moral force of society. State power, which resides supremely in the people, ought to promote the development of civil society and democratic institutions, as well as guarantee the freedom and rights of its citizens.
The Functions of State Rule
The aim of state rule lies in creating conditions for the harmonious development of individuals, social groups, and society as a whole. From this aim flows the sphere of activity of state rule in the areas of legislation, administration, and judicial procedure.
The Venerable Metropolitan Andrey taught that “The aim of governing authority is to service the social good, to preserve and protect the natural and truly authentic freedom of citizens, families, and community organizations.” Representatives of state rule are bound by the moral mandates that society places before the government. Christians who hold political power are accountable not only to society and the law, but to God as well Among the primary functions of state authority are: defence against external aggression; maintenance of foreign policy; defence of constitutional order, defined by economic, civil, and criminal law; just state administration and a fair judiciary; and finally, concern for general welfare. A government is called to care for the common good, whose distinguishable characteristics are religious liberty, culture, education, and scholarship.
Love for Country and People
The road to our heavenly homeland passes through our earthly homeland. Christians benefit their country more than others. For they form and channel the devotion of their fellow citizen to the God of all creation. They also help those who live in their small cities on earth to ascend to the heights of the divine and heavenly city. Thus is fulfilled the word of the Lord: “You have been faithful in the smallest city, come into a great one” (see Mt 25:21). For us, a country is a person’s native land, which connects that person to a people and culture. Christian moral teaching refers to love for one’s country as the virtue of patriotism. Love for one’s country derives from the fourth commandment: “Honour your father and your mother that your days may be long in the land which the Lord your God gives you” (Ex 20:12).
True patriotism is active: it promotes the preservation and development of national culture and selfawareness. A patriot will never replace God with the nation, and will not reduce faith to one of the aspects of national culture.
In the words of Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky: A fatherland can be a powerful organization, guaranteeing happiness for all its citizens, only when it is not a whole that has been artificially constructed of different and diverse parts. Rather it should be similar to a monolithic organism, that is, a body vivified by a single spirit which develops from an inner vital force and makes up for its inherent deficiencies. And by its nature, this organism is a healthy, strong body that is conscious of its purpose and not only material but moral as well. Patriotism, as the virtue of love for country, is incompatible with a hatred or belittlement of other nations or races. These are manifestations of chauvinism and racism. True patriotism is active: it promotes the preservation and development of national culture and selfawareness. A patriot will never replace God with the nation, and will not reduce faith to one of the aspects of national culture.
In view of this, Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky teaches: A Christian should love all people, but this does not impede one from loving his or her family and country first. And just as love of neighbour does not run counter to love of family, so too, it is not contrary to a love of country. The Christian can and should be a patriot, but his patriotism cannot be hatred, nor can it demand obligations contrary to faith. That which appears to be patriotism, but would entail hatred or would contradict the faith, is not true patriotism.
he task of the Ukrainian people will be to create such social Christian conditions that would ensure the true and continued happiness of citizens, so that they may find enough inner strength to overcome the centrifugal forces of internal disintegration, and successfully defend its borders from external enemies.
Love for one’s people is also a manifestation of patriotism. A people is a spiritual community of persons united by language, tradition, history, and cultural heritage. A people cultivates national values that are the foundation of its identity. In a time of nationbuilding, Metropolitan Andrey wrote: The task of the Ukrainian people will be to create such social Christian conditions that would ensure the true and continued happiness of citizens, so that they may find enough inner strength to overcome the centrifugal forces of internal disintegration, and successfully defend its borders from external enemies.
A nation is a source and environment for the transmission of both national and Christian values to the individual. One of the greatest treasures of a nation is its native language, a point which Metropolitan Andrey emphasizes: “What makes a group of people one nation? First of all, language. All who speak Ukrainian or regard Ukrainian as their native language will constitute the Ukrainian people.”
A people’s culture develops in the religious, moral, intellectual, aesthetic, and social fields. Every Christian, whose life consists of love for God and neighbour, is called to love his or her nation deeply, and to contribute to the preservation and development of its cultural and spiritual heritage. The task of every Christian is to build up and develop an authentic Christian culture, which forms the conscience and assures a person’s spiritual growth and development.