Social justice - respect for the human person



What is at stake is the dignity of the human person, whose defence and promotion have been entrusted to us by the Creator, and to whom the men and women at every moment of history are strictly and responsibly in debt. St Pope John Paul ii  CCC 1929

Social justice can only be obtained through respecting the “transcendent dignity of man”. The purpose and ultimate end of society is in the person. The extent to which the dignity of man is not respected is the extent to which society is failing and unjust.

From the dignity intrinsic to the human person flows his rights which similarly must be respected. These rights have priority over society, and are the basis of moral legitimacy of every authority. So by flouting these things, or refusing to recognise them, society undermines its own moral legitimacy. Without this respect authority must rely on force or violence to obtain obedience.

The Church must remind men of good will, of the dignity of man and the rights that flow from this dignity. And means not shrinking back when it becomes unpopular to do so.

Respect for persons is found in the principle that everyone should look upon his neighbour (without exception) as ‘another self’.

Fear, prejudice, prideful attitudes, and selfishness all obstruct the making of true fraternal societies. However there cannot be legislation against them.

As you did it for one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.  Mt 25:30

There is a duty to making oneself a neighbour to others, actively serving them, but this is much more urgent for those disadvantaged in whatever way that might be.  This extends to those who think or act differently from ourselves. This extends even further to those who are hostile to us, who might be described as our enemies. The Commandment of Love extends to enemies as well. We may hate the evil done but not the person perpetrating that evil.

Fr Ian

Next blog - equality and difference