4th of July Call for Essential Catholic Church Reform
All Catholics Worldwide
Lost Dog, Tall Weeds, LLC
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The course of recent events compels us to change our relationship with the authority structure of our church in Rome, and to assume the equal station to which the Creator calls us. We declare here the principles and reasons that oblige us to transform our church, and we outline our vision and timetable for a church more aligned with Gospel values.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all women and men are created equal, and that our Creator has endowed us with certain inalienable rights. These rights include life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, freedom of conscience, and freedom of speech. To secure these rights, men and women institute governments, which derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, not from a small group who are unaccountable to the larger community. Whenever any form of government, secular or religious, tramples on these rights, it is the right and the duty of the people to transform it. Recent events, especially the worldwide sexual abuse of minors by priests and the cover-up and inaction by many bishops and the Pope, have demonstrated that our church has in effect become a government of the hierarchy, by the hierarchy, and for the hierarchy. This government has relegated us, Gods people, to second-class statusa condition that cries out for essential reform. We are not serfs in a feudal system; we are citizens of the City of God.
We take these actions compelled by the commandments of Jesus to love God and neighbor, by the belief that the Holy Spirit inspires the entire people of God, and by the principles of equality, freedom, and solidarity embodied in the Gospels, the U.S. Declaration of Independence, and the documents of Vatican II. The long list of significant and systemic episcopal and papal abusesto which many of us have, through our own submissiveness, been complicitamounts to an unacceptable authoritarianism that we must change. There are numerous examples of this tyranny:
Coverup of the sexual abuse of minors by priests and secret reassignment of abusers to new posts, posing potentially grave risk to our children
Failure by the Pope to call for the resignations of fellow bishops who knowingly transferred sexually abusive clergy
Appointment by the Pope of Bostons Cardinal Bernard Law, a symbol of the worst of the sex abuse scandal, to a position of honor in Rome
Failure to minister as Jesus would to the survivors/victims of clergy sexual abuse
Continuation of a church culture of control, fear, secrecy, deceit, and denial
Denial of Holy Communion to those who, following their conscience, disagree with particular church positions
Disregard of civil law (for example, stonewalling civil authorities who investigate sexual abuse crimes committed by clergy)
Silencing of qualified theologians who dissent from Vatican teachings
Control of church assets by the hierarchyin effect taxation without representation
Disregard of the communitys collective conscience that some of the churchs teachings on sexuality are not in accord with the compassion of Jesus
Therefore, we the undersigned, secure that our cause is rooted in the compassion and justice of Jesus and appealing to God for strength and courage, solemnly publish and declare that we shall, based on the sacred principles declared above, transform our church.
We call for the immediate removal or resignation of all bishops who were complicit in the sexual abuse scandal.
We shall, in partnership with like-minded Catholics of all kindslaity, religious, clergy, hierarchywork toward full implementation by 2014 of the following changes in church positions:
Open the priesthood to married men and to women
Provide equal access of all qualified people to all positions in the Church
Make priestly celibacy optional
Realign our churchs positions on sexual ethics (e.g., contraception, homosexuality) to conform with the compassion of Jesus expressed in the Gospels
Honor the right of freedom of speech and freedom of conscience of all people
Promote full lay partnership in all aspects of church life at all levels
Increase ecumenical efforts to all Christians and non-Christians
We shall, in partnership with all the people of God, work toward full implementation by 2024 of the following changes in church governance:
Selection, by the peoples duly elected representatives, of bishops and the Pope, to limited terms in office, with the right of recall
Selection of pastors by the people whom they will serve and lead
Separation of church legislative, executive, and judicial powers through a series of checks and balances documented in a ratified constitution
Formation of trusts to provide for the control of church assets by the people of God who supplied them
In solidarity, we pledge to each other our time, talent, and support.
Dated the 4th of July 2004