"New ideologies, characterized by rampant individualism, egocentrism and materialistic consumerism, weaken social bonds, fuelling that “throw away” mentality which leads to contempt for, and the abandonment of, the weakest and those considered “useless”." (Pope Francis, World Day of Peace Message, 1 January 2014, 1)

Human Dignity, rooted in a correct view of the human person, is the prime principle of the Catholic social doctrine. (See the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Part Three, Section One, starting at paragraph 1700)

Man is the only creature on earth which God willed for itself.

"God has imprinted his own image and likeness on man (cf. Gen 1:26), conferring upon him an incomparable dignity, as the Encyclical frequently insists. In effect, beyond the rights which man acquires by his own work, there exist rights which do not correspond to any work he performs, but which flow from his essential dignity as a person." (CA, 11)

Human Dignity is an Unalienable Right

"No one can take away this human right," (CA, 9)

...not even the majority of a democratic political body, because this dignity does not arise from the state or the will of the governed.

This concept is the core of Catholic Social Teaching going back to its earliest articulation by Pope Leo XIII in 1891:

"No man may with impunity outrage that human dignity which God Himself treats with great reverence" (RN, 40)

It was reiterated by Pope Benedict XVI when he wrote:

“Fundamental rights are neither created by the lawmaker nor granted to the citizen. The value of human dignity…takes precedence over all political decision-making”. (Benedict XVI, Without Roots: Europe, Relativism, Christianity, Islam; Basic Books, 2006)
  • What is the correct understanding of the Human Person?
    • “The guiding principle… of all the Church’s social doctrine is a correct view of the human person”. (CA, 11)
    • This means an understanding of each person’s unique value. All CST flows from this – the inherent dignity of every person that comes from being made in God’s image. It is in this beginning that human rights are grounded.
    • Why is this important?
    • As one created in the image of God, each individual human being has the dignity of a person; he or she is not just something but someone, free, self-giving and entering into communion with others.” (Pope Benedict XVI, 2007 World Day of Peace Message, 8 December 2006, 2)
    • “The Incarnation reveals to us, with intense light and in a surprising way, that every human life has a very lofty and incomparable dignity.” (Pope Benedict XVI, Prayer for nascent human life, 27 November 2010)
    • “In comparison with all the other living beings that populate the earth man has an unmistakable originality. He lives simultaneously in both the spiritual and corporal dimension…We are therefore spirit, soul and body. We are part of this world, tied to the possibilities and limitation of our material condition, while at the same time we are open to an infinite horizon, able to converse with God and to welcome him within us” (Pope Benedict XVI, Prayer for nascent human life,  27 November 2010)
    • “God loves us deeply, totally and without making distinctions. He calls us to friendship with him, he makes us part of a reality beyond every imagination and every thought and word: his divine life itself. With feeling and gratitude, let us be aware of the value of every human person’s incomparable dignity and of our great responsibility.” (Pope Benedict XVI, Prayer for nascent human life, 27 November 2010)
  • Is Human Dignity under assault?
    • “Today, perhaps more persuasively and with more effective means than in the past, human dignity is threatened by aberrant ideologies, assailed by the misguided use of science and technology, and contradicted by widespread incongruent lifestyles… Moreover, propaganda and the growing acceptance of disordered lifestyles contrary to human dignity are weakening the hearts and minds of people.
    • All this represents a threat to humanity, because peace is in danger when human dignity is not respected...any offence to the person is a threat to peace; any threat to peace is an offense to the truth of the person: The human person is the heart of peace’.” (Pope Benedict XVI, Communiqué Announcing the theme of 40th World Peace Day, 13 July 2006)
  • Is Peace at risk?
  • What is the "bottom line"?

Read "A Deeper Examination of Human Dignity" HERE

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Just a Thought
Bishop Frank J. Caggiano, Diocese of Bridgeport, and Assistant National Eccelsiastical Counselor for the Centesimus Annus Pro Pontifice Foundation (CAPP-USA), stressed in his article in the June 18, 2018, issue of the "Fairfield County Catholic," the importance of taking a stand and being the witnesses to the Truth, no matter the consequences. Bishiop Caggiano stated, "The Lord Jesus could not have been more explicit about welcoming the stranger and protecting the dignity of all human persons." Read more
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