A Christian Ethical Enquiry into the Concept of the Human Person – A Review of Vatican II

Okpe Nicholas Ojoajogwu


Beyond dialectical and phenomenological complications, there is certainly enormous difference between the concept of human being and that of a human person. From the Christian ethical perspective as this paper sets out to do, the Second Vatican Teaching implicitly underlines the difference such that it  can be said that whereas a human being might be understood as a member of the animal species to which men and women belong as a Latin Homo Sapiens, the designation of human person is as a creation of special moral and social values comprising of both physical and spiritual status as well as communal and individual nature. Thus, when the human person is the subject of discussion, it is not just intended to specify characteristics of a human being but rather to more or less assert the conviction which opposes social, economic and political experiences which do not accord the special attention to the human person as it should be. That is why it is among the central points in the social teaching of Christianity as well as that of founders of modern political ideas that the good of human person must be the priority of every organization, state and political institution. Therefore, the oppressive tendency inherent in the exercise of power encourages fervent explanation towards what the human person is and how he should be handled in any organization or society he finds himself. In doing so, this paper looks deeply into three basic principles constituting what the Second Vatican Council understood as forming the Godly elements in the human person as reasons why he should be accorded due respect. One of such is the biblical idea of man as an image of God. And being God’s image he incorporates qualities that enable him to have transcendental relationship with God through his interaction with fellow human persons, and from his conscience being able to distinguish between good and bad.

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