Peace On Earth

This is a reading from the encyclical letter, "Peace on Earth."

Human society, to be well ordered and productive, must lay down as a foundation the principle that every human being is a person whose nature is endowed with intelligence and free will. Flowing directly and simultaneously from this nature are rights and obligations which are universal and inviolable, and which cannot be surrendered in any way. The rights of persons include the right to life, to bodily integrity, and to the means, which are necessary and suitable for the proper development of life and its secure maintenance.

The right of every person to life is correlative with the duty to preserve it; the right to a decent manner of living with the duty of living it becomingly. It is also clear that, in human society, to every person's right there corresponds a duty in all other persons to acknowledge and respect the right in question. Since we are social by nature, we are meant to live with others and to work for one another's well being. A well-ordered society requires that we recognize and observe our mutual rights and duties. It also demands that each contribute generously to the establishment of a civic order in which rights and duties are sincerely and effectively acknowledged and fulfilled.

From Pope John XXIII, "Peace on Earth," nos. 9, 11, 29-30 [The Basis of Respect for Life]

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