What?! Rights in the Catholic Church?
Traditionally, many Catholics are reluctant to speak of their ‘rights’ in the Church. They feel it smacks of trade union language, or it sounds presumptuous over against God or religious authority. However, there are good reasons to overcome such timidity.
The fact is that we have rights, both as human beings and as members of the Church.
* Jesus Christ gave us the power to become children of God (John 1,12). As God’s sons and daughters, and heirs, we have many rights given to us by God (Romans 8,17).
* Even present Church Law often speaks of the “rights” of Church members: 26 times in the section on the laity alone (can. 204 – 231).
* The Catholic Church needs urgent reforms in the way authority is handled. The God-given rights of faithful, clerics and bishops are being violated in the present structure!
We therefore urge our visitors to give full cooperation and allegiance to the Association for the Rights of Catholics in the Church (arccsites.org) who have drawn up two excellent draft documents:
- Charter of the Rights of the Catholics in the Church (arcc-catholic-rights.org/charter.htm)
- A Proposed Constitution of the Catholic Church (arcc-catholic-rights.org/constitution.htm)
1. In a perfect Church, we would not need to stress members’ rights, just as in a perfect marriage the question of the ‘rights’ of each partner would not arise. But, as the Council reminds us, our Church is “always in need of reform” (Vatican II, Ecumenism § 6). This applies especially to our own time when the abuse of authority has made the Church a ‘dysfunctional family’.
2. It is often said that ‘the Church is not a democracy’. This is only partly true. The Church is not a democracy in the sense that it was founded by the will of Christ, not by a plebiscite. But this does not mean that authority should not be exercised in a more democratic way, in line with our present-day culture, rather than holding on to top-to-bottom authority patterns inherited from the Middle Ages.
3. Pope Paul VI called for a Constitution to be drawn up for the Catholic Church and set up a commission to work on it. The idea was later abandoned.
This website is maintained by the Wijngaards Institute for Catholic Research.
The Institute is known for issuing academic reports and statements on relevant issues in the Church. These have included scholars’ declarations on the need of collegiality in the exercise of church authority, on the ethics of using contraceptives in marriage and the urgency of re-instating the sacramental diaconate of women.
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