Perhaps no attempt at democratization of the Church has been so blatant as the promulgation of a proposed "Constitution of the Catholic Church." This would be laughable if it was not serious; it was first proposed by Prof. Leonard Swidler (swindler?) of Temple University, Philadelphia, in 1998 and has gone through some revision since then. It is supported by the Association for Rights of Catholics in the Church (ARCC) and the International Movement We Are Church (IMWAC), both well known dissenting organizations that promote such foolishness as election of bishops by councils of lay people and term limits on the papacy.
"The intention of this Constitution" according to Prof. Swindler, "is to empower the Christian community." Okay, I don't like it already. What does he mean by that? Well, it means that "maximum decision-making authority is placed with the local christian community, as their responsibility, to develop their pastoral role without external interference or restrictions. The members of the community really are in control." I assume the phrase "without external influence" means without having to be accountable to the bishops or the pope. (By the way, why does the Church need to be "empowered"? Wasn't it empowered enough when Christ established it, promised it would never err, promised the gates of Hell would never destroy it, then gave it the gift of the Spirit and the sacraments for all time? Wasn't that enough empowering? I guess not; Prof. Swindler would have the people take the place of the Spirit. Anybody remotely familiar with Catholic theology knows that the Spirit is Who leads the Church. Prof. Swindler and ARCC would have us turn in our divine inheritance for a modernist bowl of pottage. But I digress.)
Section II of this proposed Constitution lists several rights that they assert every Catholic should have. Let's have a look at them (my commentary in red):
All Catholics have the basic human rights e.g., (a) freedom of action (ie, to sin without being told they are sinning) (b) freedom of conscience (to practice contraception) (c) freedom of opinion and expression (ie, the right to freely dissent from Church dogma) (d) the right to receive and impart information (ie, the right to have pro-Choice speakers disseminate propaganda at Church sponsored events), (e) freedom of association (the right to form dissenting organizations like Call to Action and Faith in Public Life), (f) the right to due process of law (ie, the right to freely disregard canon law), (g) the right of participation in self-governance (ie, the laity should elect their bishops), (h) the right to the accountability of chosen leaders (ie, the laity can impeach their bishops and even the pope if they don't toe the modernist Party Line), (i) the right to the safeguarding of one's reputation and privacy (ie, the Church should not be allowed to publicly excommunicate anybody), (j) the right to marry (ie, the right to gay marriage and to re-marriage), (k) the right to education and the corresponding duty to exercise them responsibly (the right for lay people to be in charge of education, versus the few pockets where priests and religious still handle it).
There is so much more where that came from: they propose a National Council that elects a pope who serves a term of ten years, and propose that each parish draw up its own individual constitution to be governed by, and that they "not to wait for action from above or below, but immediately start in motion a process bringing together all the ements of his parish to draw up a "parish constitution" by which the parish will be governed." I suppose this means to do it without permission. Even the preamble is insipidly trite: "We the people of the Catholic Church hold that because all men and women are created in God's image..." What a rip off from the Declaration of Independence! At least in the Declaration, those words "we the people" actually mean something substantial; here, in the context of the Catholic Church, it is the negation of meaning, the contradiction of what the Church has always taught about itself and its identity.
You can find the entire document here if you are looking for a good laugh. By the way, it might be nice to email ARCC and tell them what you think of this foolish attempt to rebuild the Tower of Babel. You can reach tham at mailto:email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org.
However, perhaps having a list of rights of Catholics delineated is not such a bad idea altogether. In fact, I have a few rights I wouldn't mind seeing codified. Here is a list of some of them:
- The right to receive Communion on the tongue shall not be infringed
- The right to receive Communion on the knees shall not be denied.
- The right to receive Communion from a priest only shall be firmly established.
- The faithful shall not be deprived of the Church's traditional holy music (chant).
- Nor shall they be denied the liturgy in the Church's universal language.
- The right of Catholics to not hear heresy preached from the pulpit.
- Every Catholic must have a Traditional Latin Mass available for Sundays and Holy Days within 30 miles of his domicile.
- The right of every Catholic to not be subject against their will to the music of Haugen and Hass, which is cruel and unusual punishment.
I could go on with many more, but I think these suffice. Keep an eye out for these groups like ARCC and IMWAC. They masquerade as Catholic organizations, but they are truly hotbeds of heresy.