...Christianity has shed the light of love over humanity and in this light the unique worth of every individual person is made manifest. Without this light the general principles of human rights could not have been formulated, principles that are normative indeed for us, even though in practice they are frequently trodden underfoot... In vain we shall search the world before Christ for this kind of outlook of man on his fellow man... In none of these will we find the kind of respect for the person of one's neighbor that can only be established as a principle for the first time by the Christian revelation. For God, in his boundless involvement, has indeed always the individual in mind (though all in community are just as much his preoccupation); and as he moves toward the individual, so he lights up his unique dignity as a person. But should the source of God's gracious involvement fall into oblivion, then sooner or later the face of the person will become indistinct, and he will sink back once more into mere anonymity.
Because, however, the most significant thing in life that can happen to our neighbor is his being laid claim to and taken seriously as a person, an event that leaves on him the most lasting impression, a state that constitutes for him the source of the greatest happiness he can know on earth, in this above all lies the credibility of the Church, and the success of the mission of Christianity.
-- Hans Urs von Balthasar, pg 54-55.