May 3, 2002 10AM EST
Association for the Rights of Catholics
in the Church (ARCC)
Catholic Crisis: Catalyst for Change!
The deteriorating credibility
of the Catholic Church, reflected recently in the worldwide wave
of revelations of sexual misconduct by clergy and resulting cover-ups,
requires that a new governance structure be conceived and implemented so
that the Church can properly serve the world in the 21st century.
Now is the time to respond to the instructions of Pope Paul VI during
the Second Vatican Council, who said, "Set up a Constitution for
the Catholic Church!" Few heard his call. Church officials have done
nothing to answer it. The Association for the Rights of Catholics in the
Church (ARCC), supported by many Catholic organizations and individuals
world-wide, is today launching an:
for a Catholic Constitution
Elements of a Constitution
are found in many of the Catholic Church's documents. According to
Dr. Leonard Swidler of Temple University and founding member of ARCC,
"for more than half its history, the Catholic Church has been a "constitutional
monarchy." A Catholic Constitution is in the spirit of Jesus' gospel
of liberation and love. It would adapt the most effective of the governance
principles recognized as necessary for the human community at the beginning
of the 21st century. In 1996, the Association for the Rights of Catholics
in the Church (ARCC), in consultation with Catholic organizations worldwide,
developed a Proposed Catholic Constitution. Key governance principles on
which that document are based on are:
ARCC urges Catholics of every
level worldwide to undertake the following actions :
1. A Written Constitution -Throughout
the Church each community would form its own body of regulations to ensure
continuity of just procedures.
2. Subsidiarity - All decision-making
rights and responsibilities would remain in the domain of smaller community
unless the good of the broader community specifically demands that it exercise
those rights and responsibilities.
3. Election - their respective
constituents would elect Church leaders to office.
4. Limited Term of Office -
Leaders would hold office for a limited term.
5. Separation of Powers - would
be observed through elected councils and leaders, as well as through established
judicial systems at all level. All will branches share responsibility in
ways appropriate to the spirit of the Gospel and this Constitution.
6. Accountability - All leaders
and councils would regularly provide their constituents an account of their
7. Representation - All Catholics,
including women and minorities, would be equitably represented in all positions
of leadership and decision-making.
8. Dialogue - All decisions
would be arrived at thorough a process of charitable and respectful dialogue.
There are no restrictions on
these matters in the 1983 Code of Canon Law; they lie completely in the
hands of pastors and bishops to initiate without any permission needed.
To start a process of bringing
together ALL elements of a parish to draw up a parish constitution
by which the parishes will be governed.
To start a process of bringing
together ALL elements of the diocese to draw up a Diocesan Constitution
by which the diocese will be governed.
To request that the president
of their national conferences of Catholic Bishops start a process of bringing
together ALL elements of the national Catholic Church to draw up
national constitution by which the national Catholic Church will be governed.
To request that the Pope bring
together ALL elements of the Catholic Church to draw up a "universal
Constitution," by which the Universal Catholic Church will be governed.
The ultimate goal of this
Movement for a Catholic Constitution, according to Mary Louise Hartman,
President of ARCC, will be a series of Constitutional Conventions at each
level culminating in the universal level, to draft and ratify a Constitution
by which the Catholic Church at that level will be governed. Copies of
communications to the hierarchy may be forwarded to ARCC.
Mary Louise Hartman,
President: 609-921-9134; firstname.lastname@example.org
John Sheehan, National Coordinator:
Leonard Swidler, Constitution
Chair 215-477-1080 email@example.com
|ARCC is a 501-c3 non-profit
international organization dedicated to achieving substantive structural
change in the Roman Catholic Church. It works to implement an identified
body of rights that every Catholic has from Baptism and membership in the
human community. ARCC works for a more collegial church structure which
affirms these rights through accountability and shared decision making.