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The Center for Human Rights at The Catholic University of America, drawing on the riches of Catholic social thought, promotes the dignity of the human person through research and education. A proper understanding of the human person is central to the Church’s mission in the contemporary world and to securing the rights of all people. John Paul II noted, "the root of modern totalitarianism is to be found in the denial of the transcendent dignity of the human person..." (1991, Centesimus Annua, 44)
The Center for Human Rights is a response to Pope Paul VI’s call, taken up in subsequent pontificates, for a “new humanism, one which will enable our contemporaries to enjoy the higher values of love and friendship, of prayer and contemplation, and thus find themselves. This is what will guarantee man's authentic development — his transition from less than human conditions to truly human ones.” (1967, Populum Progressio, 20)
We support the vital research work of our team, which impacts today’s most pressing concerns. Our fellows have decades of experience in human rights work.
Our center trains graduate students through our M.A. in Human Rights, a study of human dignity in the Catholic tradition.
We are dedicated to educating the wider public about important human rights issues around the world through the production of regular digital and print content.
"The modern human rights tradition, born from the rubble of World War II, is built upon the a recognition of the fundemantal equality of all human beings. That, in turn, obligates us to respect, in law and policy, the dignity of each human person. Only if we do that, can we achieve the common good." - William Saunders, J.D., Director of the Center for Human Rights
“I believe that what determines outcomes is people. As long as you have confidence and determination and know that justice is on your side, and the thirst for freedom, you will find the path to overcome your enemies. The quest for freedom is innate within all of us.”
- Chen Guangcheng, Distinguished Fellow at Catholic University