The Underground Call to Action
The Contrast of Call to Action and Church Teaching
We Are Church: A Catholic Referendum Produced and Distributed by Call to Action in 1996-1997
“The movement for renewal of the Catholic Church is spreading like the fire of Pentecost across the globe. More than 2.3 million Austrian and German Catholics have signed referenda calling for widespread reforms. Similar initiatives have been undertaken in Italy, France, Belgium and Australia.
“In union with our Austrian sisters and brothers, and those in other lands, we U.S. Catholics urge support from all sectors of our church for long overdue reforms. We seek genuine dialogue in the whole church on these issues and gradual, but steady, implementation of the referendum’s goals. These changes are necessary for the gospel message to be heard by the whole People of God as we enter a new millennium.
“1. We believe in a loving church where the equality of all the faithful is respected, the gulf between clergy and laity is bridged and the People of God participate in the process of selecting their bishops and pastors.
“2. We believe in a church with equal rights for women, where women are full participants in all official decision-making and are welcomed in all ministries, including the diaconate and the ministerial priesthood.
“3. We believe in a church where priests may choose either a celibate or non-celibate way of life, where the right of a congregation to the Eucharist and pastoral care is more important than a rule of canon law.
“4. We believe in a church which affirms: * the goodness of sexuality,
* the primacy of conscience in deciding issues of sexual morality (for example: birth control),
* the human rights of all persons regardless of sexual orientation, and
* the importance and urgency of issues other than sexual morality (for example: peace and non-violence, social justice, preservation of the environment).
“5. We believe in a church which:
* affirms people rather than condemns them,
* respects primacy of conscience in all moral decision-making
* embraces and welcomes those who are divorced and remarried, married priests, theologians and others who exercise freedom of speech.
“We sign this with prayerful hope for a new movement of the spirit in our church!”
Those who support such a movement for a “just and inclusive” church are invited to send their signatures to the “We Are Church Coalition”.
The Church’s Teaching on Call to Action Issues
On “democratic” selection of bishops and priests: The Catechism of the Catholic Church, # 874 – 913, details the hierarchical structure of the Church and the virtue of this structure. The moral and teaching authority of the Church flow from Jesus Christ, its head, through the Pope and then to the Bishops who operate in concert with the Pope[Lumen Gentium #25] and through them, to the faithful. “Popular selection” of priests or bishops reverses the flow of hierarchical authority.
On the Ordination of Women: The Catholic Church “holds that it is not admissible to ordain women to the priesthood, for very fundamental reasons. These reasons include: the example recorded in the Sacred Scriptures of Christ choosing his Apostles only from among men; the constant practice of the Church, which has imitated Christ in choosing only men; and her living teaching authority which has consistently held that the exclusion of women from the priesthood is in accordance with God’s plan for his Church.” [John Paul II, Ordinatio Sacerdotalis,quoting Paul VI]
On priestly celibacy: “All the ordained ministers of the Latin Church…are normally chosen from among men of faith who live a celibate life and who intend to remain celibate ‘for the sake of the kingdom of heaven.'” [Catechism of the Catholic Church, #1579; Mt 19:12; see also 1994 Directory on the Ministry for the Clergy.]
On active, homosexual behavior: “Although the particular inclination of the homosexual person is not a sin, it is a more or less strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil; thus the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder….when they [people] engage in homosexual activity they confirm within themselves a disordered sexual inclination….Christians who are homosexual are called, as all of us are, to a chaste life.” [Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons, Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith]
On birth control: “‘[E]very action which, whether in anticipation of the conjugal act. or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or a means, to render procreation impossible’ is intrinsically evil.” [Catechism of the Catholic Church, #2370, reaffirming Humanae Vitae, # 14.]
On abortion: “Among all the crimes which can be committed against life, procured abortion has characteristics making it particularly serious and deplorable. The Second Vatican Council defines abortion, together with infanticide, as an ‘unspeakable crime.'” [Evangelium Vitae, Pope John Paul II, # 58, referring to Gaudium et Spes, # 51.]
On “Freedom of Speech” for Catholic Educators and Theologians: “[I]t is apparent, however, that some today…desirous of novelty, and fearing to be considered ignorant of recent scientific findings, try to withdraw themselves from the Sacred Teaching Authority and are accordingly in danger of gradually departing from revealled truth and drawing others along with them into error.” [Concerning Some False Opinions which Threaten to Undermine the Foundations of Catholic Doctrine, Pope Pius Xii, #10.]
On social justice and Catholic Action: “The Church well knows that no temporal achievement is to be identified with the Kingdom of God, but that all such achievements simply reflect and in a sense anticipate the glory of the Kingdom, the Kingdom that we await at the end of history, when the Lord will come again.” [Solicitudo Rei Socialis, Pope John Paul II, # 48.]
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