7.2.4 CST on rights and duties: the documents

Back to 7.2.3

Unit 7 Contents

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

With all that background, it is now time to read the Church documents.  In relation to Pacem in Terris, it is worth bearing in mind that the experience of the Second World War remained a very live memory for all involved in its composition.

As you know from screen 7.1.3, Pope John XXIII strongly affirms both ‘benefit rights’ and ‘freedom rights’ in this text.

The first links in the next reading do not take you to the Vatican’s site, but to a different English translation of Pacem in Terris from the one there.  This was issued by the US Catholic Bishops shortly after the encyclical was published in 1963, in order “to achieve a more precise fidelity to the official Latin and greater clarity of expression”.1

———————————————————————————————

Reading (12pp)

Pacem in Terris, ##1-45 (Part I)

 ##60-64 (some of Part II)

If you prefer to read the translation at the Vatican’s website, it is here:

Pacem in Terris

———————————————————————————————

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Reflection

As you were reading that part of Pacem in Terris, were there any claims that Pope John made about human rights about which you thought: “Hang on.  Can we really say that people have a right to that?”

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

In the last para. of that reading, #64, you will notice how concrete the demands of upholding human rights are described to be, to the end of the common good:

It is therefore necessary that the administration give wholehearted and careful attention to… the development… of such essential services as the building of roads, transportation, communications, water supply, housing, public health…

And so on.  We need always to keep in mind this sort of very practical thing that human rights entail.  They don’t refer to abstract qualities of persons, but to things that real people badly need just in order to live ordinary lives.  In the last section of the unit, at the ‘action’ stage of the pastoral cycle, we shall look at a range of real cases of people working to secure human rights, often in circumstances of horrendous deprivation and oppression.

While Pacem in Terris is the ‘classic text’ about rights and duties in CST, popes have addressed this topic prominently at several other places.  Near the start of this unit, when looking back on what this module had already covered, we noted this especially in relation to work and family.  Before Pope John Paul’s two major statements on these topics in 1981, as studied in previous units, he had already addressed human dignity and rights in his first encyclical, Redemptor Hominis.  If you have time, you might wish to read from this.

—————————————————

Optional reading  (c.18pp)

Pope John Paul II, Redemptor Hominis, ##8-17

Note

This excerpt includes two sections set as a reading in Unit 3, ##15-16 (see 3.4.2).

—————————————————

The centrepiece of Unit 8, the final unit of the module, will be reading Pope John Paul’s Centesimus Annus of 1991, an outstanding summing up of CST at a pivotal historical moment.  This included further statements on this topic, so we shall not look at them now. John Paul spoke about human rights on many other occasions.  Among these were a number of statements related to the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1998.  Here is a link to one of these, his Message for the 1999 World Day of Peace, issued at the time of that anniversary in December 1998.

—————————————————

Optional reading  (c.12pp)

Pope John Paul II, Message for the World Day of Peace, 1 Jan. 1999: ‘Respect for human rights: the secret of true peace’

—————————————————

You are now asked to read a statement published to mark the same occasion by the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales.  This gives a perspective on the history of the development of Catholic contributions that we have surveyed above, as well as on the teaching of papal documents, from the point of view of the leadership of the Church in this country.

In fact, in light of your study of this unit so far, much in this document will be pretty familiar to you – so, unusually for such documents you might think, it should make for a quick read!

———————————————————————————————

Reading (8pp)

Catholic Bishops of England and Wales, ‘Human Rights and the Catholic Church: Reflections on the Jubilee of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1998’

———————————————————————————————

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Reflection

Granted what you have learned from this unit so far, what is new to you in this reading?

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

A more recent, short statement is given by the Compendium. But you will be asked to read this after we have looked at an issue that is so significant in the context of CST that it needs to be treated separately.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

End of 7.2.4

Go to 7.2.5 Questions for discussion half way through unit

Copyright © Newman University.  If you wish to quote from this page, see Citation Information. N.B. If you make use of material on this page in a course assignment, you are obliged to reference the source in line with the citation information.


  1. This statement is at the front of the original paper edition, Washington, DC: United States Catholic Conference, 1963. 

Go to Top