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 Annus, 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, Populorum Progressio, 20)