Basic Human Decency?


Hello everyone,

I’m a student at a Catholic High School that is researching for my Christian ethics class. I’m tasked with researching what the Catholic perspective on affirmative action is. I got pretty far with what the Catechism and the and USCCB, but I’ve ran into a problem. Both sources throw around the term “requirements for basic human decency” but never really stop to define it. Knowing what exactly is meant by this it paramount to understand the Church’s view on affirmative action.

Thanks everybody.


In my understanding this refers to basic human needs. This is summed up in the papal encyclical Pacem in Terris which speaks of the right to these things:

  1. But first We must speak of man’s rights. Man has the right to live. He has the right to bodily integrity and to the means necessary for the proper development of life, particularly food, clothing, shelter, medical care, rest, and, finally, the necessary social services. In consequence, he has the right to be looked after in the event of illhealth; disability stemming from his work; widowhood; old age; enforced unemployment; or whenever through no fault of his own he is deprived of the means of livelihood. (8)

See also the following on the USCCB website, which says “every person has a fundamental right to life and a right to those things required for human decency,” citing the paragraph above among others (but I think that one is the most to the point).


Recognizing the inherent dignity of every human person might be a place to start.


When you use terms like this, you should define them.


Thank you very much.


Absolutely go to the link provided here AND make sure to click on the green citation hyperlinks throughout the USCCB webpage. Each one of those is a further potential source.


Maybe start with Mathew 25,

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’


Have your looked into definitions of what common courtesy is? That might be interesting. :slightly_smiling_face:


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