GDC 18-19: “Human Rights”

Human Rights? The next two sections are identified under that title. What do human rights have to do with catechesis? If curious, read on:

18. The Church, in her analysis of the soil of the world, is acutely conscious of everything that injures the dignity of the human person. She is aware that all human rights (20) spring from this dignity, the constant object of Christian concern and commitment. For this reason, she looks beyond mere “social and economic indices” (21) to embrace also cultural and religious factors. What interests the Church is above all the integral development of the human person and of all peoples.(22) She notes with joy that “a beneficial trend is advancing and permeating peoples of the earth, making them ever more aware of the dignity of the individual”.(23) Her vigorous insistence on respect for human rights and her decisive rejection of all their violations are clear expressions of that consciousness. The right to life, work, education, the foundation of a family, participation in public life, and to religious liberty are, today, demanded more than ever.

19. In many places, however, human rights are clearly violated,(24) in apparent contradiction of the dignity proper to the human person. Such violations feed other forms of poverty beyond the material level: they contribute to a cultural and religious impoverishment which equally concerns the Church. The negation or restriction of human rights impoverishes the human person and entire peoples at least as much as, if not more than, material privation itself.(25) The evangelizing activity of the Church in this field of human rights has, as its undeniable objective, the task of revealing the inviolable dignity of every human person. In a certain sense, “it is the central and unifying task of service which the Church, and the lay faithful in her, are called to render to the human family”.(26) Catechesis must prepare them for this task.

Some questions for your commentary:

Do you buy the connection between social justice and evangelization?

Was Christ’s earthly ministry and the witness of the apostles sufficiently engaged in the revelation of “inviolable (human) dignity”?

Can you make a case for a stronger or a more muted resolve in this areas of concern?

What do you make of the repeated connection made of the cultural and religious sensibilities?

A quick note: to keep the text of the document a little more readable, I’ll begin adding notes to the bottom of each entry instead of inserting them in the quote:

(20) Cf. John XXIII. Pacem in Terris , Encyclical Letter (11 April 1963), 9-27: AAS 55 (1963). pp. 261-270. Here are pointed out for the Church those more fundamental human rights. In numbers 28-34 (AAS 55 (1963), pp. 270-273) are indicated the principal “human rights”. Catechesis should pay attention to both of these perspectives.

(21) Cf. Sollicitudo Rei Socialis 15a.

(22) Cf. Populorum Progressio 14; Centesimus Annus 29.

(23) Christifedeles Laici 5; cf. Sollicitudo Rei Socialis 26b; VS 31c.

(24) Cf. Christifedeles Laici 5a. The Extraordinary Synod of 1985, II, D, 1.

(25) Cf. Sollicitudo Rei Socialis 15e; CCC 2444; Centesimus Annus 57b.

(26) Christifedeles Laici 37. Cf. Centesimus Annus 47.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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