Below is one articulation of how Christian teaching generates an argument for human rights.
- Human beings, men and women equally, are created “in the image of God”. This means (in part) that God has made humans with the responsibility to exercise ‘dominion’ on God’s behalf, i.e., stewardship, in the world (see units 2.2.3 and 3.3.4-3.3.7).
- Living “in the image of God” was perfectly exemplified by Jesus Christ, and he sets the example we are to follow.
- With this “lofty vocation”, humans have “received an incomparable and inalienable dignity from God” (Compendium, #105, quoted in 7.1.1). In other words each human person has a transcendent and immeasurable worth.
- We are to recognize and respect this dignity in one another.
- We can put what this means in terms of certain rights that all must ensure are upheld for all, so that every person has the chance of living up to that vocation. In practice these include both ‘benefit rights’ – to obtain concrete goods that we need – and ‘freedom rights’ – to be free from coercive interference by others.
- Both the 1948 UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the 1963 encyclical, Pacem in Terris, are highly important statements of what these rights are.
No doubt there is more than one way of articulating how CST argues for human rights, and you might well have thought of a different way. If so, review your response to the Exercise in light of this one. Will the logic in your way of making the case be clearly evident to others? Does the Response I’ve given prompt you to re-order your points?
END OF RESPONSE
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