Ensuring Human Rights (1928-1930)
Society must ensure social justice, the conditions that allow individuals and associations to gain what is their due.
Social justice demands respect for the dignity of the person. "What is at stake is the dignity of the human person" (Pope John Paul II).
Society must respect the person's inalienable rights (which existed before society and are the moral basis for society's authority). "By unjust laws, the state undermines its own legitimacy" (Pope John XXIII). The Church reminds men of their rights but distinguishes these rights from unwarranted claims.
Respecting Other's Rights (1931-1933)
Everyone should look upon his neighbor as "another self." Laws cannot do away with all the fears, prejudices, and selfishness which destroy society. Such behavior will end only through charity which sees others as neighbors.
Being a "neighbor" is especially urgent toward the disadvantaged. "As you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me" (Mt 25:40).
This commandment of love extends to those who think differently from us and even to our enemies. The liberation of the Gospel is incompatible with hatred for an enemy, even though we truly hate the evil he does.
Removing Discrimination (1934-1935)
All men have the same nature, the same origin, and an equal dignity. All are redeemed by Christ's sacrifice and are called to heavenly glory.
Equality among men rests upon the person's dignity and rights. "Every form of discrimination must be eradicated as incompatible with God's design" (Second Vatican Council).
Unequal Distribution (1936-1937)
At birth man does not have all he needs for full development. Therefore, he needs others. However, differences appear in physical and mental abilities, wealth, etc. These are not equally distributed.
This unequal distribution is part of God's plan, so that man can share his blessings with those in need. These differences actually oblige persons to practice generosity. Jesus said to St. Catherine of Siena, "I have not given everything to one single person, so that you are constrained to practice charity towards one another. I have willed that one should need another."
Sinful Inequalities (1938)
Unfortunately, there are also "sinful inequalities" which affect millions and are open contradictions to Jesus' Gospel. "We must strive for fairer conditions because the social disparity is a human scandal which militates against justice, equity, and peace (Second Vatican Council).