Pacem In Terris 26-27: Political Rights

Let’s talk politics, eh?

26. Finally, (human) personal dignity involves (the) right to take an active part in public life, and to make (her or) his own contribution to the common welfare of … fellow citizens. As Pope Pius XII said, “(a person) as such, far from being an object or, as it were, an inert element in society, is rather its subject, its basis and its purpose; and so must (she or) he be esteemed.”( Cf. Pius XII’s broadcast message, Christmas 1944, AAS 37 (1945) 12)

This will be at least as difficult a challenge today, as indeed people are treated as commodities. This is true in such disparate aspects as the selling of mortgages and insurance policies, to web tracking of people and their surfing, or even the live tracking of consumers. In the secular sphere, it becomes less about serving the needs of other human beings and more about maximizing one’s own economic plot in the world. And most of those staking land claims as such are corporations, not people in business.

27. As a human person (an individual) is entitled to the legal protection of (her or) his rights, and such protection must be effective, unbiased, and strictly just. To quote again Pope Pius XII: “In consequence of that juridical order willed by God, (a person) has (her or) his own inalienable right to juridical security. To (this person) is assigned a certain, well-defined sphere of law, immune from arbitrary attack.”( Cf. Pius XII’s broadcast message, Christmas 1942, AAS 35 (1943) 21)

This too is no less difficult fifty years later. And the range of offenses, while it may have lessened in some places and by some methods, may have increased in others. Fewer Americans, say, are lynched these days. But blacks are much more the victims of senseless and random murder by criminals than half a century ago. And don’t get me started on drones.

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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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