Meeting in Detroit to Reclaim Vision of Vatican Council II

The American Catholic Council meets in Detroit June 10-12 to celebrate and reclaim the vision of Vatican Council II.

Please share what you think about their defining document posted below.


To be human is to have rights.  These include life and freedom, together with rights necessary to sustain them: shelter and nourishment, health and work, education and leisure. None of these rights is absolute.  One may not exercise them so that other people are exploited.

Citizens of the United States are particularly conscious of their rights, written into our constitution: speech and peaceful assembly, dissent and due process, the choice to believe or not, freedom of the press and protection from cruel and unusual punishment, voting and the presumption of innocence.

When one decides to become a Catholic, one brings all these human rights into the Church.  The Church has a solemn obligation to protect these and not to violate them.  When one is a Catholic in the United States, the Church is obliged to safeguard those rights which define what it is to be a citizen–unless they are incompatible with Catholicism.  One must not be told that one becomes a Catholic at the cost of being less an American.  We cannot declare that fundamental rights have no place in the Church of Christ.

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.

Distinctions between clergy and laity are functional and arbitrary.  Their value is always subordinate to the baptismal equality which gives all Catholics the priesthood, the right to the Eucharist, and full status in the community. Christ did not preach a Gospel of privilege and priorities, of entitlements, and of lesser or greater discipleships.  Christ did not proclaim that the Reign of God was made up of those whose right to speech or due process or presumption of innocence would now be curtailed.

The Reign of God has its charter in the beatitudes, its constitution in the Gospels, and its mission in the Great Commandments.

In 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.

14 thoughts on “Meeting in Detroit to Reclaim Vision of Vatican Council II

  1. First, allow me to explain where I come from: I was baptized in the Roman Catholic Church in Wash. D.C. in 1932 as a new born infant [as far as I know]and I attended the parish school of St. Matthews Cathedral called “Calvert School: with the nuns for 8 years. This is the famous cathedral where JFK’s funeral was held [the same year I married my present wife in a Catholic Church in Connecticut.]I raised 3 children in the church, two of whom still practice [attend mass at least occasionally.]I no longer attend mass though my wife of 48 years marriage does.
    I left because I found the scripture verses that transmitted salvation to me contradicted basic Roman doctrine [that I have studied intensively in my own limited way.]I say that to admit I am no scholar, but I am a bible student of 78 years of age.

    As for the ACC meeting and the question you pose:
    On my life I am compelled to answer that God has already, through Christ and His cross answered all the concerns and questions, policies-plans-, etc. in the scriptures. I know Rome rejects this truth. Rome contradicts God’s Word and thereby leads its followers to reject the gospel of grace taught in the scriptures.
    So, the council will be vain and in vain.
    That’s my answer for what it is worth to you very nice people.

    1. Is it ever a bad thing to mobilize a large number of people in exploration of the truth of their doctrine? Isn’t reminding Catholics of their rights and responsibilities a crucial step? The point of this site is to help Catholics seeking a change in the way their leaders deal with sex abuse. That change is going to come from the rank and file.

    2. PBS Airs TV Doc – Michaelangelo became Protestant Lead [-]
      Regarding “reform in the Roman Church.”
      I caught this myself last night. Very interesting, but shows once again the futility of “reform” from within the Roman Church.…chelangelo-revealed/226/

      More than five centuries ago, Michelangelo Buonarroti was the darling of the Catholic Church. The Papacy commissioned him to create many of its most important pieces, including the frescoes of the Sistine Chapel. He spent his life glorifying the Church, etching Catholic ideals into masterpieces that defined religion for the masses. Yet when he died, his body was secretly shepherded off to Florence, and the Church was denied the opportunity to honor him with a grand funeral in Rome. Historians have long wondered about the mysterious circumstances surrounding his death, but now, art historian Antonio Forcellino believes he has pieced together evidence of a deep rift between the Church and the esteemed artist. The cause: Michelangelo’s belief in Protestant ideals, and his involvement with a clandestine fellowship trying to put an end to the decadence and corruption of the Clergy and reform the Church from within.

      THIRTEEN’s Secrets of the Dead: Michelangelo Revealed premieres nationally, Wednesday, May 13, 2009 at 8 p.m. (ET) on PBS (check local listings). The film deconstructs the puzzling discrepancies between the sculptures Michelangelo created and the way he described them, revealing an intricate effort to carve his own beliefs into stone, while protecting himself from the wrath of a powerful Cardinal who viewed him as a heretic. Actor Liev Schreiber (CSI, upcoming X-Men Origins: Wolverine) narrates.

  2. Seems a little silly. The church is falling apart, and they are dodging the most important issue in the church> How bout this?

    1) Every child has the right to a safe environment
    2) Every victim of clergy child rape has the right to go to therapy and have the church pay for it
    3) Every victim will be welcomed back to the church, where 2 or 3 designated parishioners will welcome them back as heroes for having survived, and integrate them into the parish as such
    4) Every parishioner will consider it their responsibility to demand honesty and integrity from the Catholic church, which has been lacking in the past, and makes the entire community look foolish.

    It is poetic that the council is being held in Detroit, the city that has fallen apart more than any other major city in the United States.

  3. Patrick, I don’t think anyone would disagree that those inclusions would be welcome. But I don’t think an attempt to remind the laity of their rights and responsibilities is ever a bad thing. The Church leadership in Detroit is responsible for their mess – just like here in Philadelphia. The people holding this council are on our side of the line. Empower the laity and they’ll speak up.

  4. There are 2 points that leave me wondering:

    #7 Governance. I’ve been catholic all my life (64 yrs). When have we even in that time had the right to “participate in the decision making” of the church or “the selection of leaders”? I give up. I must have missed that! No laity selections of bishops or popes or even priests or pastors that I’ve seen.

    #9 Councils. Did I not get an invitation to those “assemblies” where “diverse voices could be heard”? Haven’t seen any of those meetings lately, have you? The hierarchy won’t even make a true transparent statement about this mess, let alone listen to the laity.

  5. These people are rebelling against GOD and promoting sexual lifestyles and identities that contradict Scripture, 4000 years of church and Jewish teaching and the evidence in science, medicine, mental health and CDC statistics – in the name of ‘justice and love’.

    It is not love and it is not justice to deny the truth of God’s word and reality based upon facts and evidence.


  6. PS – This organization published a book that contradicted the Church’s clear teaching on sexuality that even had something good to say about bestiality.
    Please carefully read the responses to the John Jay study by William Donohue, George Weigel, Dr. Fitzsimmons and the one to the first JJ Study by the late Fr. Richard John Neuhaus.
    Here are the links:
    Many people are trying to milk the crisis in the Catholic church for their own political agendas.
    Read, read, read and research everyone and every organization before committing to help or join them.

  7. What happened to #11?

    11. Children have the right to respect and courtesy, their identity and privacy; the right to care and nurturing, leisure and play; a safe environment and an adequate standard of living. Children, even inside the walls of the Catholic Church have the right to physical integrity and protection of maltreatment. Children have the freedom of expression, thought, opinion, and conscience.

    We believe that a successful society invests its best resources
    and hopes in the success of its children. An unsuccessful society ignores or
    maltreats its children.

    Children are the future of our species. How a society treats its children is
    a direct reflection of how that society looks at its future. The Children’s Bill
    of Rights proposes rights for children that all adults on Earth should honor, so
    that we may help create the very best future for ourselves and, in turn, our own

    A moral and competent society is one that respects and upholds the rights of
    its children. A society that fails to do so is immoral and incompetent.

    – Children’s Bill of Rights

    1. Rich,I enjoyed reading this post by you. I have to mention the correlation I see between how children are actually being treated and the standard you posted:
      Look at the “Caley Anthony Tragedy!”

      It is the millions of abortions that have conditioned people’s minds so that 1. a mother can suffocate her own child, get rid of the body and go out and party with her “friends.”2. A “jury” when balancing the life of that child against the “life” a a young woman, finds the “life” of that woman more deserving of continuing than her child’s life.
      We are there folks! This is what the millions upon millions of murders of the unborn has given us— excusable murder of a 2-3 year old darling baby. [Only “darling” until she becomes a burden.]

  8. I don’t understand about the rights of Catholics. Catholics don’t have any rights, they are subject to their ruler, which is the Pope. What has this Pope done about the blatant, overwhelming abuse in the Catholic Church? The background on him is pitiful.

    My belief is you cannot get corruption out of corruption. You can try to stop it, but really, does anyone in the U.S. understand what is happening in other countries? It is appalling. Look at Ireland and Italy! And South America! This is rampant sin around the world in the RCC.

    I was not physically abused by rape, but I have been physically abused by priests and Nuns. I would have had problems all my life if I had not found the truth of God in the word of God, and got away. It is why, I believe, that unless one steps back and looks for the deeper truth of what is happening, that nothing will ever change in this religion of men.

    Has anyone ever read this: 1Co 7:9 But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn. Yet priests are not allowed to marry.

    Or this: 1Ti 4:3 Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. The code of the RCC is against the word of God, they beleive they can supercede what God has said to us!

    Catholic Priests have thrown out the word of God and they are reaping the wind. And the result is Catholics also reap the wind, when I believe most Catholics would like the comfort of the truth.

  9. What is really curious is how the followers of ACC and other Catholic “dissidents” have such a passionate desire to call themselves “Catholic.” Even some who have practically no remaining belief in any biblical truth. Even the women on the TV program “The View” who admitted they never set foot in mass were apoplectic when their right to call themselves “Catholic” was challenged.Maybe they are like the NY cab driver in the story I heard:

    A passenger apparently was an enthusiastic “bible believer” Christian and started witnessing to the NY cabbie by asking him:” Have you ever trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, and believed that He died ,was buried, and rose again— to forgive all your sins and reconcile you to God?”

    The cabbie answered: “Nah, I’m catlick!”

  10. Since Vatican II the Catholic Church in the USA has made another Church than the Roman Catholic Church of old. I don’t mean to say that the Old Catholics had the truth, and that none of this was happening then, history shows us differently…but that today, if you cannot find remission from one priest…just shop a differen priest. It was one of the things that started me studying Canon Law and what is expected of those who call themselves Catholic.

    For instance…how many Catholics today do you think practice birth control? According to the Church, they are in sin, and left unconfessed to a priest and stopped, they are going to Hell…but most today have decided to make their own rules. They are not Catholic, and if they are, God help them. God help them anyway for I believe they are without the truth, either way…

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