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.

Sr. Maureen Invites C4C Site Visitors To Prayerful Protest May 6th

There will be the usual First Friday Vigil on May 6th from noon to 1 p.m. in front of the Philadelphia Archdiocesan offices at 222 North 17th Street in center city.

All of welcome to participate in prayer, picketing and protest.

Sister Maureen Paul Turlish
Victims’ Advocate

For more information, email:

Publishers note:

Lets’ get out to support victims, protect children and renew our Church!!! There is a parking lot at 18th and Vine. Suburban train station is just a three blocks away. Bring signs if you’d like. The protest includes a procession, short prayer vigil and petition signing.

Our Request for Truth in Action

We didn’t get answers to our questions. (See the Cardinal’s response here.) Now we ask for action – not words. The following actions are necessary for restoring faith and renewing the Catholic Church in Philadelphia.

1-    Direct pastors to hold open meetings with parishioners on the issue of Church response to the Grand Jury report. Give pastors the appropriate support to have such meetings.

2-    Announce the names of any suspended priests and the nature of the allegations against them.

3-    Create a customized charter of child protection, as was done in many other U.S. Dioceses.

4-    Remove the disclaimer language that precedes the Standard of Ministerial Behavior and Boundaries. These disclaimers are not found in other U.S Dioceses.

5-    Establish a special collection for clergy sex abuse victim support groups with all the money going directly to those charities.

6-    Fund a victim assistance program run independently of the Archdiocese and its lawyers.

7-    Publicly support legislation that suspends for two years the civil statute of limitations on sex abuse claims. Support the abolishment of the statute of limitations for sex offenses against minors.

8-    Use independent providers for the evaluation and treatment of priests accused of sexually abusing minors.

9-    Follow all recommendations made by Gina Maisto Smith and her team.

10- Send every new allegation received by the diocese to Gina Maisto Smith and her team. (Victims should contact the DA’s office. Please see resources page.)

It’s time for us to be the Church. We must unite ourselves with victim survivors. It is up to each and every one of us to protect children, bring victims justice and help our priests of integrity retain the respect they deserve.

In solidarity we become the living Gospel this Holy Week. Please spread this information by sharing this Web site with every Catholic you know this Palm Sunday. Let’s show them we are not a weak voice but a powerful force of faith.

Don’t Bother Raising Your Hand: It’s Time to Rally

The second grand jury report underscores the need for change within the Catholic Church. Before some folks start screaming leftist radical Church destroyer at me, let me explain what I mean and don’t mean by change.

I don’t mean to change doctrine.

We need to change the way Church leaders deal with the laity on important issues. We need to create a system of meaningful communication between the laity and Bishops.

Around the world, millions of Catholics are outraged by the handling of sex abuse cases involving clergy. How do we make our voices heard? How do we demand action? What is our recourse?

I don’t want to stop putting money in the collection basket. While it might hurt the archdiocese, it would also hurt my parish and those closest to me. I believe in supporting the services it provides. I don’t want to pull my children from their school. I believe in Catholic education. And I don’t want to walk away from my faith. I believe in God.

Is this what the Church leadership is counting on? If so, they should read the comments on this site. Others are not as torn. And I don’t judge anyone’s reaction to this complicated situation. I can understand them all. We need to hear each other.

There is no “Comment, please” box in the back of Church. Too many letters to the archdiocese have gone unanswered and too many meaningless letters from the Cardinal have been read. Time and time again I hear from all of you, “They just don’t get it.”

In Catholic school, we had to raise our hand if we wanted to speak. Then, you waited to be called on. By this point, I think we’ve all realized the Cardinal isn’t calling on us.

That’s why I created this site – to give everyone a place to speak out. And boy have you! I’m amazed and affirmed. To think a few short weeks ago I thought I was alone in my anger. We’ve begun the conversation; now let’s find the solution.

Join us in the first step. Meet me on Friday, April 1st at noon in front of the Archdiocesan administration building at 222 North 17th Street, Philadelphia. Create signs and invite friends. I’ll have extra signs, too. As advocates for all laity, Catholics4Change will join and support the victims advocacy groups that regularly hold vigil there.

I know this is difficult for some, but it’s time to protect our children and the future of the Church. This will be my first protest, but probably not my last.