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On December 10, 1948 the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which, with thirty separate articles, gave a global expression of rights to which all human beings are inherently entitled. The leaders in the Catholic Church have not written a similar declaration but they came close to it in the writing of Pope John XXIII, when in 1963, he laid the foundation for a listing of human rights. “Each individual…is truly a person. His is a nature that is endowed with intelligence and free will. As such he has rights and duties…. These rights and duties are universal, inviolable, and therefore altogether inalienable” (Pacem In Terris, #9). The list of human rights is long and not all are included here!
The foundation of so much doctrine in the Catholic perspective of life comes from the biblical account of creation. There is no attempt by the leaders of the Catholic Church to defend the biblical story of creation as exact science, but they do accept the theology or spirituality that lies behind the account, that is, within every human being who comes into existence lives the image of God. “Then God said: ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.’ God created man in him image, in the divine image he created him; male and female he created them.”(Genesis 1:26).
Do you know the name of St. Peter’s mother-in-law? Nowhere in the Gospels do we learn the name of the mother of Peter’s wife, yet she becomes a model for us.
In his gospel Mark (1:21-28) tells a story of Jesus demonstrating his preaching authority and his ability to heal. In the midst of his preaching a man cries out in a crazy fashion: “Have you come to destroy us?” In the opinion of the audience this man had an “unclean spirit.” What would Jesus do?