The Dignity of the Human Person
Fragment of the document produced by the Cardinal François-Xavier Nguyên Van Thuân, President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. It belongs to article two: The human person of the Compendium of Social Doctrine of the Church.

Author: François-Xavier Nguyên Cardinal Van Thuân, President of the Pontifical Council Justice and Peace | Source:

39. In fact, for the Church teaching and disseminating social doctrine belongs to its evangelizing mission and is an essential part of the Christian message, since this doctrine exposes its direct consequences in the life of society and frames even the daily work and struggle for justice in testimony to Christ the Savior. It is also a source of unity and peace in the face of conflicts that inevitably arise in the socioeconomic sector. In this way the new situations can be lived, without degrading the transcendent dignity of the human person neither in them nor in the adversaries, and orientating them towards a straight solution. 

(Centesimus Annus, N. 5) 


40. This is why the Church has a word to say, both today and twenty years ago, as well as in the future, on the nature, conditions, exigencies and purposes of true development and on the obstacles that oppose it. In doing so, it fulfills its evangelizing mission, since it gives its first contribution to the solution of the urgent problem of development when it proclaims the truth about Christ, on itself and on man, applying to a concrete situation (cf. John Paul II, speech to The bishops of Latin America, 1979). To this end, the Church uses its social doctrine as its instrument. In the difficult current situation, in order to favor both the correct approach to problems and their better solutions, it will be able to help a lot more accurate knowledge and wider dissemination of the "set of principles of reflection, judgment criteria and guidelines for action" proposed by their teaching (Libertatis Conscientia, N. 72; Octogesima Adveniens, N. 4). This will not be observed immediately, that the issues we face are above all moral; and that the analysis of the problem of article two developments as such, nor can the means to overcome these difficulties do without this essential dimension. 

(Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, N. 41) 


41. In man's life the image of God shines again and manifests itself in all its fullness with the coming of the Son of God into human flesh: "He is the image of the invisible God" (Col 1, 15), "radiance of his glory and imprint of his substance" (Heb 1 , 3). He is the perfect image of the Father. 

(Evangelium Vitae, N. 36) 


42.The dignity of the person manifests all his radiance when considering his origin and destiny. Created by God in his image and likeness, and redeemed by the precious blood of Christ, man is called to be "son in the Son" and living temple of the Spirit; and it is destined for that eternal life of communion with God, which fills him with joy. That is why any violation of the personal dignity of the human being cries out vengeance before God, and is set as offense to the Creator of man. 

(Christifidelis Laici, N. 37) 


43. If, on the other hand, we consider the dignity of the human person in the light of the truths revealed by God, we must necessarily value even more this dignity, since the men have been redeemed with the blood of Jesus Christ, made children and friends of God for the supernatural grace and heirs of eternal glory. 

(Pacem in Terris, N. 10)


44. Supported in this faith, the Church can rescue the human dignity of the incessant change of opinions that, for example, depressed excessively or exalt without any moderation the human body. There is no human law that can guarantee the personal dignity and freedom of man with the security that communicates the Gospel of Christ, entrusted to the Church. The Gospel enunciates and proclaims the freedom of the children of God, rejects all enslavements, which ultimately derive from sin (cf. Rom 8, 14-17); holily respects the dignity of conscience and its free choice; warns incessantly that all human talents must be in the service of God and good of humanity; finally, entrusts everyone to the charity of all (cf. Mt 22, 39). This corresponds to the fundamental law of the Christian economy. For, though God himself is Savior and Creator, and also, Lord of human history and the history of salvation, however, in this same divine ordination, the righteous autonomy of the created, and especially of man, is not suppressed, but rather restitutes to his own dignity and is seen in it consolidated. The Church, therefore, by virtue of the Gospel entrusted to it, proclaims the rights of man and recognizes and greatly esteems the dynamism of the present epoch, which is promoting everywhere such rights. It must, however, be achieved that this movement is imbued with the evangelical spirit and guaranteed against any semblance of false autonomy. It lurks in effect the temptation to judge that our personal rights are only saved in fullness when we are free of all divine norms. In that way, human dignity is not saved; on the contrary, it perishes. 

(Gaudium et Spes, N. 41) 


45. Social justice can only be obtained by respecting the transcendent dignity of man. But this is not the only or the main reason. What is at stake is the dignity of the human person, whose defense and promotion have been entrusted to us by the Creator, and of which the men and women are rigorously and responsibly responsible for each juncture in history. 

(Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, N. 47) 


46. The dignity of the human person is a transcendent value, always recognized as such by those who sincerely seek the truth. In reality, the whole history of mankind must be interpreted in the light of this conviction. Every person, created in the image and likeness of God (cf. Gn 1, 26-28), and therefore radically oriented to his Creator, is in constant relationship with those who have the same dignity. That is why, where the rights and duties correspond and reinforce each other, the promotion of the good of the individual is harmonized with service to the common good. 

(Message from World Peace Day, 1999, No. 2) 


47. "Where the Spirit of the Lord, there is freedom" (2 Cor 3, 17). This revelation of freedom and therefore of the true dignity of man acquires a particular meaning for Christians and for the Church in persecution-whether in ancient times, either at present-because the witnesses of the divine truth are then a vivid verification of the action of the Spirit of truth, present in the heart and in the conscience of the faithful, and often seal with their martyrdom the supreme glorification of human dignity. 

(Dominum et Vivificantem, N. 60) 

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