Human Rights

Human Rights icons

We call ourselves and others to embody gospel values and
to live the social teachings of the church.

Working toward the enablement of persons and the promotion of human dignity,
we contribute to positive systemic change in society.

(You Are Sent, General Directory 33a)

Eleanor Roosevelt looks at the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, November 1, 1949. UN Photo.

“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” These opening words of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights  established the foundation of international human rights law. The Declaration, proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly on 10 December 1948, sets out a broad range of fundamental rights and freedoms for all.

The rights, freedoms, and obligations outlined in the Declaration include civil and political rights; economic, social, and cultural rights; and collective rights. Human rights by their nature are indivisible, interrelated, and interdependent. The improvement of one right helps advance the others.

Unfortunately, various forms of discrimination continue to hinder the realization of these human rights. Human rights can only be achieved through persistent effort and constant vigilance by informed and caring people. Each of us has the duty to uphold our own rights and those of others. We all share the responsibility for creating a just society in which the rights and dignity of all persons are valued and respected.

“… there is a growing awareness of the exalted dignity proper to the human person . . . whose rights and duties are universal and inviolable. They ought, therefore, to have ready access to all that is necessary to living a life that is truly human life,  such as, food, clothing, and shelter… the right to education, to employment….”
(Gaudium et Spes, 26)


Flags outside United Nations, New York. UN Photo/Yutaka Nagata


  • Join the SSND family around the world to commemorate Human Rights Day on December 10.
  • Educate for justice by promoting the values of Shalom, Catholic Social Teaching, human rights, and the Sustainable Development Goals. (Multiple Languages)
  • Study Pope Benedict XVI’s encyclical Caritas in Veritate (Deutsch, English, Español, Italiano, Polski, Português) and Pope Paul VI’s Populorum Progressio (English, Español, Italiano, Português) to further understand integral human development
  • Join a human rights organization or network, such as Human Rights Watch (Multiple Languages), to keep informed of current human rights concerns.
  • Stand in solidarity with someone who has experienced some form of discrimination or limitation of their human rights.


Child eating lunch at the Juba Orphange, Juba. UN Photo/Arpan Munier

God of Justice,
You have given all of your children human dignity and human rights.
Help us recognize the dignity and the rights of all of human kind.

Open our hearts to hear your teachings;
open our eyes to the suffering of those
who are denied their fundamental economic, social, and political rights.

Let our voices join in declaring,
“all humanity is sacred, all human rights must be respected.”

(Center of Concern)