PIUS XII 1939-1958

The Natural Law *


[From the Encyclical, “Summi Pontificatus,” October 20, 1939]


2279 It is well established that the first and profound source of the evils by which the modern state is afflicted, from this fact, that the universal standard of morality is denied and rejected, not only in the private life of individuals but also in the state itself, and in the mutual relationships which exist between races and nations; that is, the natural law is being nullified by detraction and neglect.


This natural law rests on God as its foundation, the omnipotent creator and author of all, and likewise the supreme and most perfect legislator, the most wise and just vindicator of human actions. When the eternal Godhead is rashly denied, then the principle of all probity totters and sways, and the voice of nature becomes silent, or gradually is weakened, which teaches the unlearned as well as those who have not as yet acquired the experience of civilization what is right and what is not right; what is permitted, and what is not permitted, and warns them that some day they must render an account for their good and evil deeds before the Supreme Judge.

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