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This essay explores the early Catholic response to the concept of human rights. It is widely assumed that the Catholic Church opposed human rights talk in the wake of the French Revolution, and only slowly came around to accepting it in the twentieth century. However, a more systematic analysis of Pius VI’s stance toward the French Revolution reveals that he approved of human rights, but had a more Thomistic understanding of them than what was found in the French Declaration. The Vatican’s embrace of human rights in the 1930s should accordingly be seen as a continuity of more long-standing practices.