Church teaching on human rights

The Catholic Church’s teaching on human rights is based on its teaching and understanding of the human person.

Catholics believe that all humans are made in the image and likeness of God, and so everyone deserves to be treated fairly and equally. The Catechism (1929) states, What is at stake is the dignity of the human person, whose defense and promotion have been entrusted to us by the Creator...

The dignity of the human person refers to the unique and immeasurable value that all life has. It declares that all life is sacred and therefore should be treated as so.

The human body is also believed to be a vessel of the Holy Spirit. Catholics therefore believe that the body must be cared for and looked after, as it contains the Holy Spirit. A Catholic should not abuse their bodies for their own wants or desires. They should treat their bodies with respect.

The Catechism also goes on to state that it is the responsibility and duty of humanity to ensure that everybody has what they need not just to survive, but to protect their value and dignity. Each time a Catholic comes into contact with another human, they are challenged to see themselves reflected in that person and, if needed, to help as Christ taught, I tell you, whenever you refused to help one of these least important ones, you refused to help me. (Matthew 25:45)

The Church’s response to human rights and social justice around the world is based on the Catholic belief about the dignity of the human person. To care and protect the dignity of one indvidual is linked to the common good. The common good can be described as creating and providing the right social conditions, so that individuals and communities can reach their full potential and live a full human life. (CCC 1906)

This belief will not only help form teachings on issues such as abortion, but also guide the Church in its mission to tackle things such as global inequality and civil rights issues.