The inaugural convention of the American Catholic Council gathered an estimated 2,000 reform-minded Catholics endorsed a 10-point Catholic Bill of Rights and Responsibilities that asserts primacy of conscience and 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.
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.