CASC Lumen Magazine_Spr 2021

Student Essay Profile

The following essay is an excerpt from a paper written for the graduate program’s Catholic Social Tradition course. At the Last Judgment the Lord will ask us what we have done for the poor, the hungry, the sick and the naked, those in prison, and those without a home. The course, as with so many of the Catholic Studies Graduate Program, is not only designed to serve students academically but to be life-changing. The course’s framework is taken from the analysis of society into three spheres of action (culture, economics and politics) as described in the papal encyclical Centesimus Annus . It examines the ways that Revelation, the sacramental life, and the teachings of the Church call Catholics to seek holiness and to witness to their faith in the world, from social and economic justice to marriage and family life. The course will be offered during the fall 2021 semester. For more information about enrolling as a degree- or non-degree-seeking student, contact Catholic Studies Graduate Program Coordinator Vincent Ruiz-Ponce ( ) .

owed to any human being, regardless of circumstances, merits, or choices; it is a grave offense to treat any person with cruelty or to withhold the necessities of life. All human beings have a right to authentic flourishing – that is, the actualizing of one’s potential in communion with God and neighbor – simply because of their nature as human beings. The necessary first step toward attaining that flourishing is to live. Therefore, it is natural for the Church to identify both abortion and racism as injustices. Even though I was not well suited for sidewalk counseling, it allowed me to see firsthand what happens when we leave the imperatives of human dignity out of our ethical framework: death, self-destruction and division. The Church sees human dignity as originating in the boundless love of the creator in whose image we are formed. Therefore, human beings of every race, born and unborn, possess the same measureless worth, and every human life deserves unconditional reverence and protection.

“unacceptable” race, then that being must be a human being. Still, the implication of John’s statement is that a human being’s right to life is not inherent but conditional; in this case, it depends on race and the family’s acceptance of the child. DIGNITY FLOWING FROM GOD’S IMAGE Without an understanding of what human dignity is and is not, we cannot recognize what constitutes injustice. The Church upholds that there is no such thing as a human being without dignity because dignity is rooted in the very definition of a human being as a creature formed in God’s image. As St. John Paul II writes in his encyclical Centesimus Annus , “God has imprinted his own image

I could hardly believe what he had asked me – and in such a serious way, too. He waited for me to respond as if I would have to think long and hard about it. Today, many years after that bizarre and heartrending morning, I cannot remember what happened after I said my confused but firm, “Of course.” Maybe John had no response. Maybe my trainer ushered me away before things could get worse. Regardless of the foggy memory, what I gained that day was an understanding of the truly countercultural nature of the Catholic vision of human dignity. Two prevalent offenses against human dignity converged: abortion and racism. Ironically, the racism against an unborn child confirmed the child’s humanity. We only attribute race to human beings, so if a being in the womb can have an

and likeness on man (cf. Gen 1:26), conferring upon him an

incomparable dignity ... [T]here exist rights which do not correspond to any work he performs, but which flow from his essential dignity as a person” (n. 11). Dignity requires a minimum of respect, which means that respect is the bare minimum

St. Thomas Lumen Spring 2021 Page 17

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