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The Dignity of the Human Person

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Human life is sacred because every person is created in the image and likeness of God. There is a rich and multi-faceted Catholic teaching on human dignity summarized in the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church. Every human being “must always be understood in his unrepeatable and inviolable uniqueness . . . This entails above all the requirement not only of simple respect on the part of others, especially political and social institutions and their leaders with regard to every man and woman on the earth, but even more, this means that the primary commitment of each person towards others, and particularly of these same institutions, must be for the promotion and integral development of the person.” The Compendium continues: “It is necessary to ‘consider every neighbor without exception as another self, taking into account first of all his life and the means necessary for living it with dignity’ (Gaudium et Spes, 27). Every political, economic, social, scientific and cultural program must be inspired by the awareness of the primacy of each human being oversociety.” v

v This summary represents only a few highlights from the fuller treatment of the human person in the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church. For the fuller treatment see especially nos. 124-159 where many other important aspects of human dignity are treated.

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