<%@LANGUAGE="JAVASCRIPT" CODEPAGE="65001"%> 50th Anniversary of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights ARCC
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The Association for the Rights of Catholics in the Church
Terence Dosh, President 
Press Release in Commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the
UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, December 10, 1998 
Further Information: 
Ingrid Shafer 405/224-3988              405/224-3988       (voice) 405/224-3044 (fax) 
E-mail to ihs@ionet.net 

The Association for the Rights of Catholics in the Church (ARCC) celebrates the fifty year anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the single most important secular document concerning the global human community that has ever been issued. Indeed, our own Charter of the Rights of Catholics in the Church is partially based in the 1948 "Universal Declaration of Human Rights" of the United Nations. 

As Catholics, we are proud to affirm that the 1948 call for liberty, justice, equality, dignity, and respect for diversity flows from the very best Christianity has to offer. As Catholics, we are proud to applaud Pope John Paul II when he travels the world as ambassador for human rights. 

But as Catholics we are embarrassed: 

  • that the institutional Church still justifies an obsolete authoritarian and patriarchal order, and routinely violates fundamental human rights within our Church. 
  • that the institutional Church continues to say, "The Church is not a democracy," as though this were a matter of pride. 
  • that the institutional Church violates its own principles, as stated in such Vatican II documents as Dignitatis humanae, whenever a scholar is silenced or a bishop appointed against the wish of the people. 
It seems more than accidental that the Second Vatican Council became a democratic body as a result of an intervention by the French Cardinal Lienart who challenged the assembled bishops to take personal control of the proceedings and claim the Council authentically for themselves -- to elect representatives from national groups, to write their own documents, to forge coalitions and learn to dialogue -- in sum, to work ground-up from the episcopal grass roots and give the democratic process a chance. Hence, at the Council's very inception, there was already an implicit call that would transform the self-image of the church, from a kind of papal bureaucracy to a democracy. 

We learned, all of a sudden, that we were the church, and from then on Catholics everywhere began to feel responsible and view themselves as active collaborators called to build the Pilgrim Church in the spirit of dialogue, compassion, and love. 

ARCC was founded in 1980 by lay and clerical Catholics in the wake of Vatican condemnations lodged against Hans Küng and other theologians. The Association affirms that there are fundamental rights and corresponding responsibilities which are rooted in the humanity and baptism of all Catholics. In the same spirit, the Association seeks to put into practice the statement of the 1971 Synod of Bishops: "While the Church is bound to give witness to justice, she recognizes that anyone who ventures to speak to people about justice must first be just in their eyes. Hence we must undertake an examination of the modes of acting and of the possessions and life-style found within the Church itself. Within the Church, rights must be preserved." 

Hence, it is among the stated goals of ARCC to institutionalize a collegial understanding of Church in which the principle of subsidiarity is honored, decision-making is shared, and accountability is realized among Catholics of every kind. For that purpose, ARCC has spent years in consultation with fellow Catholics all over the world to develop a Constitution for the Catholic Church. That Constitution is now available in draft form and can be viewed in the ARCC website, at http://astro.temple.edu/~arcc/constit.htm. 

The draft has been drawn up on the basis of Gospel values, Church history and theology, canon law, Vatican II documents, the "Fundamental Law of the Church" (Lex Ecclesiae Fundamentalis) commissioned in 1965 by Pope Paul VI, the 1983 Code of Canon Law, and the experience of civil constitutional law of the past two hundred years. 

The Constitution's list of rights and responsibilities is grounded in the Vatican II challenge to read the "signs of the times." A democratized global Catholic Church can become a major force for liberating people everywhere, not only for the hereafter but by becoming part of a vital faith community, in the here and now, in their own religious or ideological tradition, whatever it may be. Ultimately, there is no more meaningful and pressing concern for Catholics at the edge of the third millennium of the Christian Era than pursuing the vision of a world in which all of us, no matter how different, can imagine ourselves as siblings, working together toward peace and justice. 

Ingrid Shafer, Vice President 

Box 912 
Delran, NJ 08075 

Other voices

Another Voice

Questions From a Ewe

Challenges Facing Catholicism
(Bishop Geoffrey Robinson in converation with Dr Ingrid Shafer)

E-mail Comments
Posted  10 December  1998
Last revised 12 December 1998
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, D.P.A., President
(406) 544-5527
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Helena, MT 59604-6512


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