A Proposal for Structural Reform of the Church
by Terry Dosh
What if the Church had a Constitution and a Charter of Rights
that declared All Catholics have the right to a voice in
all decisions that affect them, including the choosing of their
leaders, and the right to have their leaders accountable to them?
Would not such principles tell the world that our Church embraces
the values many free peoples of the world experience?
To the charge that the Church is not a democracy, the rejoinder
is that the Church is not a monarchy either. The call is for collegial
There is a need for order in any institution, including the Church.
Realizing this, the Church,after Constantine, adapted Roman law
and order to the Church. Hence our present Church structure is
Rome-based, a human creation.
The value of freedom has shaped new democratic societies worldwide
in the last 50 years. Vatican II promoted that same freedom. However,
the bishops did not create new structures that would implement
this newly discovered freedom in the Church.
There is a need to re-structure our Church so that it promotes
religious freedom and collegial participation. Roman culture was
the matrix of the medieval Church; Anglo-Saxon democratic culture
can be a matrix for our future Church.
In 1965 Pope Paul VI called for a constitution. Few paid attention
until the Association for the Rights of Catholics in the Church
(ARCC), founded in 1980, created the Charter of Rights and Constitution
for the Church cited above. The ARCC advocates institutionalizing
collegial processes at all levels so that decision-making is shared
and accountability realized among Catholics of every kind and condition.
Church rights groups in 11 European countries and 12 U.S. reform
groups have approved ARCC's pioneering work.
For further information and an invitation to join in this effort
of substantive structural renewal, contact:
PO Box 85
Southampton MA 01073
Terry Dosh is a church historian, editor of Bread Rising,
and a founding ARCC board member.
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org