8: Civil Rights


Catholic teaching must be the basis of any Catholic commitment to civil rights. The right to life is the first and utmost right, and, consequently, respect for freedom and personal responsibility play an important role in society. In fact, when the freedom and the dignity of a person are violated in any way, the entire human family is devalued.

Its imperative that Christians respect civil rights, demostrated through their actions to establish a lasting national and international peace. Cardinal Bernardin underlines that peace engendered by arms races proves to be a illusion. Security at the expense of another country's insecurity is unacceptable. Moreover, security is not a reality for the world if people still suffer from hunger, children die every minute, exorbitant military expenditures are continually planned, and racism, segregation, poverty, hopelessness and despair are still so prevalent. In light of this, Joseph Bernardin invites all Christians to act upon their convictions as people of faith. Abortion, he asserts, must not be included among civic rights, but rather the right to life must be considered as the first and foremost among fundamental human rights.

Among other civil right violations, apartheid has not yet been eliminated in South Africa. In countless nations violent civic wars have diminished human dignity, providing examples of social injustice. Immigration has been charged with creating problems; however, immigrating people move from one country to another in search of a better life and most times find themselves, once again, in poverty. When nations, in a desperate attempt to solve immigration problems, try to build a protective wall around their borders to keep other people out, they forget we are all members of a single human family in which every individual's rights must he respected.