The Common Good and/or the Human Rights: Analysis of Some Papal Social Encyclicals and their Contemporary Relevance

Wilson Muoha Maina


It is notable how some papal social encyclicals have interchangeably used the terms 'common good' and 'human rights.' This article analyzes the papal common good teaching and its contemporary shift to include human rights. I also explore the differential nuances between the common good and the human rights. Human rights as advocated by civil societies are understood as arising from a conception of the nature of the human person. The common good has been expressed in practical ways through human rights, especially the right to work and receive a just wage. The papal social encyclicals are viewed here as relevant to our contemporary world where extreme capitalism and unrestrained consumerism have led to the accumulation of wealth and power in the hands of a few people.


common good, human rights, papal encyclicals, social teachings, Catholic Church, person, work

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