For a nation to be just, it must be a society that recognizes and respects the legitimate rights of individuals and peoples. These rights precede any society because they flow from the dignity granted each person created by God. We are reminded of this fundamental truth in the earliest passages of the book of Genesis: “God created mankind in his image; In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”

Pope Benedict XVI noted: “As a spiritual being, the human creature is defined through interpersonal relations. The more authentically he or she lives these relations, the more his or her own personal identity matures. It is not by isolation that (a person) establishes his/her worth, but by placing her/himself in relations with others and with God.” We are meant to love God with our whole being, which then overflows into love for our neighbor, “Whoever loves God must love his/her brother/sister.”

(to be continued)