July 4, 2015: Revisiting the Catholic Bill of Rights

On this day in what the poet Freya Manfred, called this “sad, sweet, tragic Fourth of July world,” it is good to revisit the Catholic Bill of Rights issued by the American Catholic Council in 2011.

It says in part:

“We often hear that the “Church is not a democracy.” This is not true: ecumenical councils, papal elections and the election of religious superiors occur regularly. The first Ecumenical Council in 325 declared that no priest was validly ordained unless the community made the selection. Popes and bishops were chosen by the people at large. Fundamentally, Catholic doctrine maintains that the Spirit is given to all and that baptism makes every Catholic equal. . . .

Christ did not preach a Gospel of privilege and priorities, of entitlements, and of lesser
or greater discipleships. . . .The Reign of God has its charter in the beatitudes, its constitution in the Gospels, and its mission in the Great Commandments.”


406In light of these principles and precepts, we, mindful of our baptism, eager to be fully citizens of the United States and thoroughly Catholic, articulate this Catholic Bill of Rights and Responsibilities.

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 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.

The American Catholic Council website provides supporting materials, including theological and canonical references, implications as well as applications of this Bill of Rights.

 

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Posted in Catholics and Culture, Equality and Faith, I BLOG, Politics and Religion, Uncategorized, US Bishops

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