Rights and Responsibilities

Rights and Responsibilities

The Catholic tradition teaches that human dignity can be protected and a healthy community can be achieved only if human rights are protected and responsibilities are met. Therefore, every person has a fundamental right to life and a right to those things required for human decency. Corresponding to these rights are duties and responsibilities--to one another, to our families, and to the larger society. (USCCB.org)

Quotes from Official Church Documents

  • “It is not right…for either the citizen or the family to be absorbed by the state; it is proper that the individual and the family should be permitted to retain their freedom of action, so far as this is possible without jeopardizing the common good and without injuring anyone,”
    -Pope Leo XIII, On the Condition of Workers (Rerum Novarum), no.52.

  • “[The State] has also the duty to protect the rights of all its people, and particularly of its weaker members, the workers, women and children. It can never be right for the State to shirk its obligation to work actively for the betterment of the condition of [workers].”
    -Pope John XXIII, On Christianity and Social Progress (Mater et Magistra), no.20
  • Beginning our discussion of the rights of man, we see that every man has the right to life, to bodily integrity, and to the means which are suitable for the proper development of life; these are primarily food, clothing, shelter, rest, medical care, and finally the necessary social services. Therefore a human also has the right to security in cases of sickness, inability to work, widowhood, old age, unemployment, or in any other case in which he is deprived of the means of subsistence through no fault of his own.”
    -Pope John XXII, Peace on Earth (Pacem in Terris), no.11
  • “[The Catholic tradition calls for] a society of free work, of enterprise and of participation. Such a society is not directed against the market, but demands that the market be appropriately controlled by the forces of society and by the State, so as to guarantee that the basic needs of the whole of society are satisfied.”
    -Pope John Paul II, On the Hundredth Anniversary of Rerum Novarum (Centesimus Annus), no.35



Basic Human Rights:

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Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs:

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Principle of Subsidiarity:

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