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27 Harv. J.L. & Pub. Pol'y 65 (2003-2004)


Since his election in 1978 as the Successor to the Apostle Peter, His Holiness Pope John Paul II has remained one of the principal protagonists on the global stage for the dignity and value of every human being. Although the popular press and media sometimes have been slow to recognize this message, an online search of the Holy Father's copious encyclicals, addresses, and homilies reveals that he has advocated human dignity literally hundreds of times during the course of his twenty-five year pontificate. In fact, long before his election as Pope, Karol Wojtyla was developing his understanding of the dignity of the human person in his philosophical and theological writings.

The belief that each human being possesses a metaphysical value simply in the fact of his or her existence remains at the root of John Paul II's indefatigable defense of human dignity. In this brief essay, my purpose is not to afford a comprehensive presentation and critique of the philosophical and theological foundations of human dignity, but rather to highlight certain features of John Paul II's thinking that raise questions about disturbing trends in the law.


Reprinted with permission of Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy.

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