The basis for the theme of Human Dignity, the bedrock of Catholic Social Teaching, is that humans were created in the image and likeness of God. Regardless of any factors or reasons we can think of, individuals have an inherent and immeasurable worth and dignity; each human life is considered sacred. This theme is about our radical equality before God that leads us to think no less of somebody because they are from a different place or culture, because they believe something different to you, or because of their work or employment situation.
The principle of Human Dignity means that Catholic Social Teaching takes a strong position on issues around the start and end of life (like the death penalty and abortion) but it also has big consequences for everything in-between. For example it can effect how we think about how our society supports those with disabilities, how we address global inequality and the approach we take to civil rights issues. It is from this idea that all people have inherent dignity that the themes of ‘Preferential Option for the Poor’ and ‘Authentic Human Development’ develop within Catholic Social Teaching.
The idea that each life has value isn’t something Catholic Social Teaching has a monopoly on; it shares a lot in common with International Human Rights which are also universal, inviolable and inalienable. But Catholic Social Teaching differs slightly because of its basis. It grounds Human Dignity in the firm foundations of the Catholic Church’s traditions thought about the sanctity of creation as told in the story of our creation (Genesis) and God's incarnation (Gospels).
Read more about Human Dignity here
Human Dignity Quotes
"At stake is the dignity of the human person, whose defense and promotion have been entrusted to us by the Creator"
Saint John Paul II, Solicitude Rei Socialis
"For, by his Incarnation, he, the son of God, in a certain way united himself with each man"
"Dear friends, it is certainly necessary to give bread to the hungry – this is an act of justice. But there is also a deeper hunger, the hunger for a happiness that only God can satisfy, the hunger for dignity. There is neither real promotion of the common good nor real human development when there is ignorance of the fundamental pillars that govern a nation, its non-material goods: life, which is a gift of God, a value always to be protected and promoted; the family, the foundation of coexistence and a remedy against social fragmentation; integral education, which cannot be reduced to the mere transmission of information for purposes of generating profit; health, which must seek the integral well-being of the person, including the spiritual dimension, essential for human balance and healthy coexistence; security, in the conviction that violence can be overcome only by changing human hearts."
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