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Being human – dignity and respect due

By Darrion Narine

Programme Manager, AMMR

Human dignity is a concept that lies at the heart of Catholic social teaching. According to Catholicism, every human being has inherent worth and is created in the image of God, and this belief is the foundation for the Catholic understanding of human dignity.

In this article, we will explore the Catholic perspective on human dignity.

Every person has an inherent dignity that cannot be taken away or diminished, regardless of their race, ethnicity, gender, age, ability, or social status. This belief is based on the biblical account of creation, which states that God created human beings in His own image and breathed life into them (Gen 1:26–27).

Human dignity, therefore, is not something that can be earned or lost; it is an inherent quality that is bestowed upon every human being by virtue of their creation. This means that every person deserves to be treated with respect and dignity, and their basic human rights must be protected.

The Catholic Church recognises that these rights include the right to life, the right to freedom, the right to work, the right to education, and the right to participate in the political and social life of their community.

The Catholic perspective on human dignity also recognises the importance of social justice. In a world where poverty, inequality, and oppression exist, the Catholic Church advocates for the rights of the marginalised and vulnerable. This is based on the belief that every person, regardless of their circumstances, has a right to live in dignity and to have their basic needs met.

This means that the Church promotes social and economic policies that prioritise the common good and promote the well-being of all members of society.

Moreover, the Catholic Church recognises the importance of human relationships in promoting human dignity. According to Catholic social teaching, every person is created for community, and our relationships with others are integral to our well-being.

This means that we must treat others with respect and love, and seek to build relationships that are based on mutual respect, trust, and understanding.

This includes advocating for the rights of those who are marginalised and vulnerable and working to eliminate the structural barriers that prevent them from living in dignity.

We must ensure that we live in love and challenge ourselves to treat others with dignity. People must work towards identifying their privilege and understanding that everything we have comes from God.

Additionally, we must realise that we are called to help others, especially those who live on the margins of society. Once we begin doing this, we will create a better country and world.

The Catholic perspective on human dignity is grounded in the belief that every person is created in the image and likeness of God and has an inherent worth that cannot be diminished. This belief is the foundation for Catholic social teaching, which recognises the importance of social justice, human relationships, and the common good.

The Catholic Church teaches that we are called to respect and protect the inherent dignity of every human being, and to work towards a society that promotes the well-being of all its members.



“Human persons are willed by God; they are imprinted with God’s image. Their dignity does not come from the work they do, but from the persons they are” (11).

Pope John Paul II, 1991, Centesimus Annus (“The Hundredth Year,” Donders translation)

– CCSJ Social Justice Education Committee

Photo by Farid Askerov on Unsplash