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Catholic University of America

Center For Human Rights

About the Center For Human Rights

The Center for Human Rights at The Catholic University of
America, drawing on the riches of Catholic social thought,
promotes the dignity of the human person through research
and education. A proper understanding of the human person is central to the Church’s mission in the contemporary world and to securing the rights of all people. John Paul II noted,
“the root of modern totalitarianism is to be found in the denial of the transcendent dignity of the human person…”
(1991, Centesimus Annus, 44)


Our Team

We support the vital research work of out ream, which impacts today’s most pressing concerns. Our fellows have decades of experience in human rights work.


Our center trains graduate students through our M.A. in Human Rights, a stody of hyman dignity in the the Catholic tradition.


We are dedicated to educating the wider public about important human rights issues around the world through the production of regular digital and print content.

Welcome to the Center For Human Rights

The Center for Human Rights is a response to Pope Paul VI’s call, taken up in subsequent pontificates, for a “new humanism, one which will enable our contemporaries to enjoy the higher values of love and friendship, of prayer and contemplation, and thus find themselves. This is what will guarantee man’s authentic development — his transition from less than human conditions to truly human ones.” (1967, Populorum Progressio, 20) 

“The modern human rights tradition, born from the rubble of World War II, is built upon the a recognition of the fundamental equality of all human beings. That, in turn, obligates us to respect, in law and policy, the dignity of each human person. Only if we do that, can we achieve the common good.”

– William Saunders, J.D., Director of the Center for Human Rights

News and Updates

Chen Guangcheng and Bill Saunders attend Jimmy Lai Art Unveiling

On February 22, 2024, Chen Guangcheng and William Saunders attended the unveiling of a painting created by Hong Kong democracy advocate, Jimmy Lai. Lai, who is a friend and ally of Guangcheng…

Dr. William Saunders Delivers Remarks at National Catholic Prayer Breakfast

On February 8, 2024, Dr. William Saunders, Director of the Center for Human Rights, delivered remarks at the annual National Catholic Prayer Breakfast. He spoke about St. Bakhita, the Sudanese survivor of slavery…

Center for Human Rights Attends IRF Summit

On January 31, Distinguished Fellow Chen Guangcheng attended the International Religious Freedom Conference, which was also co-chaired by Fellow Sam Brownback. The conference was attended by hundreds of pro-religious freedom advocates from across the world…

Chen Guangcheng Honored for Ten Years at Catholic University

On January 31, 2024, Center for Human Rights Distinguished Fellow Chen Guangcheng joined other faculty and staff at a dinner honoring long-term service to the University. Guangcheng, who joined President Peter Kilpatrick at the head table…

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The Catholic University of America and its Center for Human Rights is honored to support the work of activist Chen Guangcheng, who is a Distinguished Fellow at the University. His is a voice that defines this generation’s fight for human rights throughout the world. Blind from a young age and a self-taught lawyer, Guangcheng has spent his life fighting for the rights of the disabled and marginalized in China. He exposed the atrocity of the Chinese Communist Party’s forced abortions, leading to his captivity. Guangcheng’s cry for justice, after enduring years of brutal torture at the hands of the Chinese Communist Party, shocked the world and opened his path for a new life of activism in the haven of the United States, after his harrowing, and miraculous, escape from house arrest.

“I believe that what determines outcomes is people. As long as you have confidence and determination and know that justice is on your side, and the thirst for freedom, you will find the path to overcome your enemies. The quest for freedom is innate within all of us.”
– Chen Guangcheng, Distinguished Fellow at Catholic University

Contact Information

Email Address


Mailing Address

620 Michigan Ave., N.E. Washington, DC 20064

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