Justice in the Church
Catholic Bill of Rights

A Catholic Bill of Rights in the
1983 Code of Canon Law

According to well known canonist, Fr. James Coriden, the list of rights and responsibilities found in the 1983 Code of Canon Law possess constitutional status, and could be said to be a "Bill of Rights" for Catholics. He says: "...the contextual situation of these canons shows them to be of foundational significance. To call them constitutional is not an exaggeration. The rights stated in the code ... are concerned with matters basic to human dignity and to the meaning of church membership"

1. The fundamental equality of all Christians based on baptism, and equality and dignity in action; the right and freedom to cooperate in building up the Body of Christ (c.208)

2. The right to evangelize the nations(c.211)

3. The right to petition, that is, to make known to pastors one¹s needs (especially spiritual) and one¹s hopes (c 212 #2).

4. The right to recommend: the right to advise pastors regarding the good of the church, and to participate in public opinion and informing the faithful (c.212#3)

5. The right to receive the Word of God and the sacraments from pastors (c.213).

6. The right to participate in worship in accordance with legitimate norms of one¹s own rite. (c.214).

7.The right to one¹s proper spirituality (c.214).

8. The right to association: the right to found and direct associations with charitable purposes and as an expression of Christian vocation. (c.215)

9. The right to assembly: the right to hold meetings for the same purpose as to associate. (c.215)

10. The right to promote the apostolate and to one¹s own proper initiative in apostolic work, based on the right to participate in the church¹s mission. (c.216)

11. The right to Christian education (c.217)

12. Academic freedom: the right to research and to publication (c.218)

13. Freedom from force in choosing one¹s station in life (c.219)

14. The right to a good name and reputation (c.220)

15. Privacy: the right to have others respect what is intimate to one¹s self. (c.220)

16.The right to vindicate one¹s rights in church court and to defend one¹s rights in church court (c.221 #1) with equity and in accordance with law (c.221 #2).

17. The right to be judged (c.221 #2).

18. The right to legality regarding sanctions, that is, the right to expect the church to impose sanctions only in accordance with law (c.221 #3)

Reference: A Challenge: Making the Rights Real. James A. Coriden pp 7-29.

From A Call for National Dialogue on the Future of Priestly Ministry, developed by FutureChurch in partnership with Call to Action.

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