Human Rights & Human Wrongs: The Catholic History of Human Rights

November 14th, 2021

What makes something right?  What makes something wrong? What is a “right,” and why ought it be respected? What happens if two people’s rights come into conflict? What is justice? Why (and how) ought it be pursued?

On Saturday, November 14, the Newman Forum hosted a conference about the relationship between rights, justice, and–the theme we chose for our year–human dignity. Professor Paolo Carozza introduced us to the development of the earliest human rights tradition by Spanish Dominicans in the 16th century, and charted the course of its expansion into our contemporary language of human rights and social justice, which fails to achieve its ends when it loses the Catholic understanding of human dignity. It can seem to us that the Catholic Church is new to topics of justice and rights, but not only were Catholics some of the first to develop the language of rights and justice, but the Catholic understanding of human dignity is pivotal to our contemporary pursuit of a just society!

Due to COVID-19, this was a HYBRID event:


9:30 Opening Prayer & Welcome

9:45 1st Lecture

10:20 1st Q&A

10:45 Break

11:00 2nd Lecture

11:35 2nd Q&A

11:45pm Online Breakout Discussion Groups

12:30pm Conclusion


9:00 Grab-and-go breakfast (Coffee Room)

9:30 Prayer and Welcome (Chapel)

9:45 1st Lecture (Chapel)

10:20 1st Q&A (Chapel)

10:45 Break & Snack (Coffee Room)

11:00 2nd Lecture (Chapel)

11:35 2nd Q&A (Chapel)

11:45 Transition to Eucharistic Adoration (Chapel)

12:10pm Grab-and-Go Lunch (Coffee Room) & Discussion Groups (Breakout Rooms)

1:00pm Final Q&A (Chapel)

1:30pm Closing Prayer (Chapel)

There were mandatory health screenings at the start of the in-person experience. Masks were required at all times during the day, except for when students were eating. Refusal to wear a mask or follow appropriate social distancing protocols were grounds for removal from the event, as it violated the Newman Forum’s contract with Mundelein Seminary.

See photos from the conference below:

If you’d like to use the video recordings of these lectures with your students, email us at:

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