FAQs – updated February 2014
The American Catholic Council event was a gathering of nearly 2000 people in Detroit on Pentecost Weekend, June 8-10, 2011. Catholics from forty-nine states and 15 different countries came together to celebrate the spirit and values of Vatican II, with its promise of a radically inclusive and engaged relationship between the Church and the World. The agenda of this gathering was formulated after input from multiple “Listening Assemblies” held throughout the country in the two years prior to the Council. As a culmination to all these discussions, we:
- Engaged an impressive roster of keynote speakers;
- Had significant participation in over 25 different breakout session offerings from experts in a diversity of subjects,
- celebrated in prayer and liturgy,
- unanimously acclaimed the Catholic Bill of Rights and Responsibilities,
- provided stimulating feedback through “reform in action” groups,
- reviewed evaluations and the record of the breakout discussions, and
- generally joined in a very full expression of the desire for the Church to make the promise of Vatican II a reality for all Catholics in the near future.
Why is the American Catholic Council still around if the event in Detroit is over?
The intensity of enthusiasm and feedback evidenced at the Council and afterwards led to an in depth evaluation by the Planning Committee. Although initially the entire focus was on the gathering itself, it became evident that a movement was born that had a place in the ongoing effort (being undertaken by many organizations) to make the Church more just, inclusive, collaborative, and compassionate. The American Catholic Council (ACC) Planning Committee agreed to continue its work by providing action-oriented educational, communication and project resources that will promote significant change. Additionally, the ACC offers the members on its sister-site, Assemblies Community Network (ACN), the opportunity to participate in dialogue, planning and networking about church reform issues and projects, reinforcing the process of grassroots participation so central to the original project.
How is the ACC doing this?
The Planning Committee of the ACC has identified at least three particular areas which fit the mission of ACC and fill a niche in the reform movement. These are:
- Promoting the Catholic Bill of Rights and Responsibilities, (developed by a team of theologians in partnership with hundreds of critiques gathered from nearly 100 Listening Assemblies across the US and Canada. You can learn more by exploring our CBRR Listening Session Template.
- Developing an online Institute in Nonviolent Action for Church Reform, based on the theories of Dr. Gene Sharp, to be undertaken by a pilot group and then, after evaluation, be made available to others wanting to be trained in the strategy and tactics of nonviolent action. Those trained will be “leaven” to initiate actions for justice and reform.
- Supporting and promoting the website for Intentional Eucharistic Communities (IECs) which helps people locate IECs across the US and Canada, share “best practices “on how to start one, and/or network with others involved in Intentional Eucharistic Communities.
- Participating actively in COR (Catholic Organizations for Renewal), where several collaborative projects are in progress, and also forming relationships with other reform groups to engage in actions for change (see “Projects”)
How is the ACC different from other Catholic reform organizations?
While the agendas of many reform groups tend to overlap at times, as all work toward a Church more reflective of the legacy of Jesus Christ, ACC has identified both a process and some projects which distinguish it from other organizations.
- The ACC is concentrating on the fulfillment of the promise of Vatican II.
- The ACC “issue” of central importance is changing structures and governance within the church, seeking to move the Church toward greater democratization as it affirms the central role of the faithful in decision-making. The common sense of faithful Catholics (sensus fidelium) is a legitimate agent of the Holy Spirit and serves to inform Church practice and teaching, in tandem with Scripture, Tradition and the Magisterium.
- The ACC has, from the start, engaged rank-in-file Catholics in the grassroots through processes of dialogue and feedback, including an interactive online site called Assemblies Community Network and through facilitating local Listening Assemblies.
- The ACC has articulated its concerns in a document entitled Catholic Bill of Rights and Responsibilities (CBRR). This document was formed through a process of revision directly involving grassroots participation. It takes into account both “American” principles of self-governance and “Catholic” principles of baptismal equality and universal right to Eucharist.
Who can participate?
Anyone interested in supporting the promises of Vatican II and working for their fulfillment in our Church. Our newsletter helps people stay abreast of projects and the Assemblies Community Network (ACN) provides a space for interactive discussion and networking, the first of its kind in the reform community.
How are you funded?
The American Catholic Council is a registered 501c non-profit organization that relies solely on donations. Most positions are volunteer – a small contracted staff helps with technology and administration. ACC welcomes donations!