He was subject to them - Luke 2:51

Obedience is the carrying out of orders from one's lawful superiors with the intention of carrying out their will.

Catholics especially prize obedience, because of Christ's own example, and because in their lawful superiors they see the representatives of Christ himself

"Let every soul be subject to higher power - for there is no power but from God." - Romans 13:1

He humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death, even the death of the cross - Phil 2:8



It is the teaching of the Church that obedience is part of justice, one of the four cardinal virtues, which are in turn subordinate to the theological virtues of faith, hope and charity.
Faith is greater than obedience ! Therefore, if obedience acts to harm the faith, then a Catholic has a duty not to obey his superior.

"Now sometimes the things commanded by a superior are against God, therefore superiors are not to be obeyed in all things.
- St. Thomas Aquinas,
Doctor of the Church
- Summa Theoligica II-IIQ. 104

But though we , or an angel from heaven, preach a gospel to you besides that which we have preached to you, let him be anathema - Galatians 1:8

"For I have received of the Lord that which also I handed down to you." - Corintians XI:23


Now the truths of our faith were received even by Jesus Himself as a tradition or handing down from His Father.
Jesus answered them, and said, "My doctrine is not mine but His that sent me." - John 7:16
Jesus said to them, "Amen, Amen I say to you, the Son cannot do anything of Himself, but what He seeth the Father doing: for what things soever He doth, these the Son also doth in like manner." - John 5:19
"For I have not spoken of myself; bu the Father who sent me, He gave me commandment what I should say and what I should speak." - John 12:49

Likewise, Our Lord hands the Faith down to us as a tradition through those of our lawful superiors who are obedient to the Faith.

"Because the words which thou gavest to me, I have given to them." - John 17:8

But many Catholics, forgetting that Catholic obedience is relative to the Faith and Tradition, think obedience is an absolute, with only one opposite, disobedience.
They are mistaken. True obedience has two opposites :

Error by Defect - DISOBEDIENCE
Error by Excess - FALSE OBEDIENCE

Error By Defect


According to the great theologian, St. Thomas Aquinas, true obedience is a balance between twin errors of defect and excess, which are disobedience and false obedience (IIaIIae, Q104,5 ad 3). Today this second error is common among Catholics who, when they follow orders to depart from Tradition, think they are being obedient.

Error by excess


The sin of our first parents and the origin of all sin in the world was a sin of DISOBEDIENCE


Human superiors need not be obeyed if their orders violate the Faith. Such was the martyr's obedience.

God must always be obeyed no matter what He may ask of us. Such was the Patriarch Abraham's obedience.

Excessive zeal, even for obedience, if indiscreet, will surely lead to a great fall.

The sin of our first parents and the origin of all sin in the world was a sin of DISOBEDIENCE

God must always be obeyed no matter what he may ask of us. Such was the Patriarch Abraham's obedience.

Excessive zeal even for obedience, if indiscreet, will surely lead to a great fall.

Error By Defect
My own conscience is my absolute authority.

God through His Catholic Church has absolute authority over my conscience
in the last resort God meant me to judge, if His hierarchy is departing from His teaching. Obedience to men has limits - Galatians 1:8-9

Error By Excess
The Church hierarchy is the absolute authority. Obedience has no limits.

Error By Defect
The Pope has no authority over me.

The Pope, as the Vicar of Christ, is given by Christ direct authority over the whole Church,
he is not infallible in everything he says or does

Error By Excess
The Pope is infallible in everything he says and does.

Error By Defect
No respect at all is owed to "superiors".

Lawful superiors are to be respected as the representatives of Christ
if they depart gravely from the Catholic Faith, I may even rebuke them in public - Galatians 2:11-14

Error By Excess
I may never criticize any superior under any circumstances.

Error By Defect
I will not obey men, even pretending to be servants of God, be they bishops or priests.

I will gladly obey the appointed servants of God, legitimate bishops or priests
not when I know they are leading men away from God.

Error By Excess
I will obey the bishops or priests even when they disobey God by forsaking Tradition.

Error By Defect
I protest against the leaders of the Church claiming to have authority.

I will always respect the Church authorities as such - John 18:23;Acts 23:5 ,
I need not follow Church leaders who violate the traditions of the Faith.

Error By Excess
Whoever protests against anything a Church official does or says is Protestant.

Error By Defect
Church punishments, like excommunication or suspension, are meaningless.

Church punishments are terrifying instruments of God's law when valid
when they are without foundation they are not valid Old Code, c.2242; New Code, c.1321.

Error By Excess
Even unjust or improper suspensions or excommunications are legally binding.

Error By Defect
I will attend no Catholic Mass

I must attend the Catholic Mass,
I am not obliged to attend the Novus Ordo Mass, because it destroys the Catholic Faith.

Error By Excess
I will attend even a protestantized Mass if my superiors tell me too

O senseless Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that you should not obey the truth...... who hath hindered you, that you should not obey the truth? - Galatians 3:1, 5:7


And there is no reason why those who obey God rather than men should be accused of refusing obedience; for if the will of rulers is opposed to the will and the laws of God, these rulers exceed the bounds of their own power and pervert justice, nor can their authority then be valid, which, when there is no justice, is null. - Leo XIII, "Diuturnum Illud"

Satan's masterstroke is to have succeeded in sowing disobedience to all Traditon through obedience (ie. false obedience). - Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre

But by defending disobedience to modern church officials in some case, are we not encouraging anarchy and disorder in the church ?

NO ! It is the modernists who are causing anarchy and confusion by disobeying sacred traditions.


So it was in St. Peter's Day -
Where there is a proximate danger to the faith, prelates must be rebuked, even publicly, by subjects. Thus, St. Paul, who was subject to St. Peter, rebuked him publicly.
St. Thomas Aquinas, Commentary on the Epistle to the Galations 2:14

So it was in St. Bellarmine's Day -
When the Supreme Pontiff pronounces a sentence of excommunication which is unjust or null, it must not be accepted, without, however, straying from the respect due to the Holy See.
St. Robert Bellarmine

So it must still be today -

All disciplinary authority, all obedience to a bishop presupposes the pure teaching of the Holy Church. Obedience to the bishop is grounded in complete faith in the teaching of the Holy Church. As soon as the ecclesiastical authority yields to pluralism in questions of faith, it has lost the right to claim obedience to its disciplinary ordinances. - Professor Dietrich von Hildebrand, The Devasted Vineyard (chicago 1973), pp 3-5

Obedience to manifest error is sinful and the obligations to obey ceases once you are commanded to do some evil. Helping to destroy the Church in the name of "obedience" is also sinful. Blind obedience is not, and has never been Catholic (this is because true obedience can never conflicts with the will of God, namely that it can't contradict the Churches constant teaching).

The history of the Church gives us several examples of saints who, in order to remain faithful, have resisted the Church authorities (and were even excommunicated ) who were wrong. Thus St. Godefrey of Amiens, St. Hughes of Grenoble and Guy of Vienne (who later became Pope Calixtus II ) wrote to Pope Pascal II who was wavering concerning "the investitures": "If, what we absolutely do not believe, you would choose another way and would - God forbid - refuse to confirm the decisions of our paternity , you would force us away from obeying you." (Bouix, Tract, de Papa, T. II, p. 650).

We learn that St. Athanasius had to "disobey" Pope Liberius. But such apparent his "disobedience" was not real disobedience, but rather true obedience to the Church and it's constant teaching.

In Summa Theologica, Q.33 Art 4, St. Thomas Aquinas makes it clear that we are bound to correct even his superior saying "if the faith is endangered a subject ought to rebuke his prelate even publicly. Hence Paul, who was Peter's subject, rebuked him in public, on account of the imminent danger of scandal concerning the faith, and, as the gloss of Augustine says on Gal. 2:11: "Peter gave an example to superiors that if at any time they should happen to stray from the straight path, they should not disdain to be reproved by their subjects".

We become obedient to the Church and her officials only when we become obedient to the constant teaching of the church as taught by the Magisterium throughout the ages. If what is taught by an appointed servants of God (bishop, priest or Pope) is contrary to Catholic teaching then they are Not to be obeyed but even publicly rebuked (Titus 1:10) as they no longer speak on behalf of church but become representatives of their own novelty.