The American Catholic Council is a group of an estimated 2,000 reform-minded Catholics that asserts the right of every Catholic to have a voice in the way the church is run, as well as an obligation to advance the proclamation of the Gospel to the world and the church’s social teaching. Its inaugural convention was held in June where they rolled out the Catholic Bill of Rights and Responsibilities. Here it is for your reading pleasure:
Catholic Bill of Rights and Responsibilities
The introduction to the Catholic Bill of Rights and Responsibilities cites the U.S. Bill of Rights and international documents on human rights to say that in joining the church, Catholics do not give up those fundamental human rights. In keeping with Catholic teaching that rights also involve responsibilities, it links the two throughout.
Its main text says that Catholic rights and responsibilities include:
1. Primacy of conscience. Every Catholic has the right and responsibility to develop an informed conscience and to act in accord with it.
2. Community. Every Catholic has the right and responsibility to participate in a eucharistic community and the right to responsible pastoral care.
3. Universal ministry. Every Catholic has the right and responsibility to proclaim the Gospel and to respond to the community’s call to ministerial leadership.
4. Freedom of expression. Every Catholic has the right to freedom of expression and to the freedom to dissent.
5. Sacraments. Every Catholic has the right and responsibility to participate in the fullness of the liturgical and sacramental life of the church.
6. Reputation. Every Catholic has the right to a good name and to due process.
7. Governance. Every Catholic and every Catholic community has the right to a meaningful participation in decision-making, including the selection of leaders.
8. Participation. Every Catholic has the right and responsibility to share in the interpretation of the Gospel and church tradition.
9. Councils. Every Catholic has the right to convene and speak in assemblies where diverse voices can be heard.
10. Social justice. Every Catholic has the right and the responsibility to promote social justice in the world at large as well as within the structures of the church.
Silly me… I thought this was all included in my baptismal call.
Why do we need such a document?
Because people don’t feel like they’re being heard.
I think it’s funny that Americans came up with this. Just goes to show what an adolescent culture we are.
This blog is not so different. I often carry the image in my head of going up to my pastor / grabbing him by his black-and-white collar and saying: Hey buddy! Listen up!
Perhaps we all have that fantasy at one time or another. And perhaps it has turned into reality more than once… some to a greater or lesser degree of success than others.
But basically the bottom line is this: We want to be heard. We have good ideas and we want to be listened to.
Our church today doesn’t listen.
You don’t listen. You pretend to… you fake-listen… but we know it’s fake. (Wow! How much does that look like a parent-teenage-child relationship?)
When we don’t feel like we’ve been heard, we take our complaints to like-minded people… in family and friend circles / around office water-coolers and copiers / to other disgruntled parish council members / to blogs and social media / to councils of Catholic people who want reform / to just about anyone else who will affirm our opinions and encourage our group-think. We throw our thoughts out to the universe saying: Is anybody with me? Come on people! Show yourselves!
Really we should just keep moving forward / doing the hard work of discipleship / changing the world / shadow-boxing away the dross within.
God is in control… even in this institutional church.