Catholics for a Changing Church

"To live is to change, and to be perfect is to have changed often" - Bl. John Henry Newman

Manifesto of May 1969


All people, clergy and lay, are to be trusted to work together in partnership as the people of God to serve the mission of the Church. At present, an autocratic exercise of authority prevents people taking their proper share of responsibility. In particular women, lay and religious, are largely excluded from an effective part in the Church. At almost all levels important decisions are taken in arbitrary fashion without prior knowledge and consultation.
Authority should be the expression of the mind of the whole Church and not imposed from above. The principle of collegiality should be extended so that all bishops have a proper part in the central government of the Church with the Curia subject to them: this sharing of responsibility should be expanded to include other levels of the Church, clergy and lay, so that all members of the Church are fully able to use their talents in the service of the Gospel.


Truth is something to be sought after and not merely to be defended. It is the real source of authority of the Church and the only way of making the Gospel credible to the world. The Church’s understanding of truth should not be something static but something which constantly develops. There has been a failure to face this, a failure to admit mistakes in the Church and in society, to allow free discussion of basic issues, to recognise primacy of conscience.
Christians have a right to demand that truth should be seen to be based on scripture and sound reason. There should be freedom to discuss any issue, theological or practical, inside or outside the Church.


This is a crucial test of the Church’s credibility. Unless justice exists, the Church cannot be recognised as standing for God’s justice in the world.
When priests are unjustly treated for the expression of honestly held beliefs, when parents have little or no say in the management of Catholic schools, and when teachers and others in some way subject to ecclesiastical authority are intimidated for their views - the world is given scandal instead of inspiration.
Justice in the Church should be manifest and subject to public scrutiny and aim at least to equal the spirit of justice in the civil community. It should be based on the love, understanding and trust that ought to exist between Christians. Canon Law should be radically reformed in accord with these principles.

Openness and Communication

The Church should have nothing to hide. Controversy is living proof of the activity of the Holy Spirit within the Church. The whole people of God should be entitled to know what decisions are taken by authority and why.
At present freedom of speech is restricted instead of defended. Accusations are made in private. The means of communication are watched with suspicion: mass media are excluded instead of being welcomed.
Secrecy defeats its own object, causes frustration and resentment, and deprives the whole Church of its right to know. The public press should be encouraged to report responsibly the debate within the Church, and the decision-taking machinery should be exposed to press scrutiny and coverage.

Editor’s Comment

The Manifesto stands as a statement of aims, as valid today as in May 1969. Never once has the Manifesto been emended and almost all members of CCC - the successor to CRM - would stand by every word of it today. The failure to implement the Manifesto lies with the institutional church, while those who press for change in the numerous organisations, listed among our links, are succeeding in bringing about a change in outlook among thinking Catholics - the essential preliminary for reform of the institution. An exploration of the articles on this website and of the links to kindred organisations and societies will provide you with an introduction to exciting new thinking within and without the Catholic Church.


The Catholic Renewal Movement was formed at a meeting in January 1969 with the following aims:

To promote the renewal of the Catholic Church in the spirit of Vatican II and in particular the sharing of responsibilities within the church, the development of the theology of sex and marriage, and the pursuit of truth and justice.
A fuller statement was later drawn up and accepted by the movement. This is the Manifesto.


1. To work in all possible ways for the continuing renewal of the church in the light of Vatican II, and for the improvement of our understanding of the Word of God and mans response to it.

2. To prepare members of the church for assuming their full role in the decision-making and consultative bodies of the church, by e.g. organising meetings and discussion groups where none exist, and by taking a constructively active part where these already exist.

3. To serve, through its work and reports, as a stimulus for official bodies in the church.

4. To safeguard the interests of individuals, whether clerical or lay, who may be unfairly treated by other catholics.

5. To undertake specific studies of problems of particular importance to the church by organising the collection and analysis of data and the drafting of reports for discussion, publication and action.

6. To make its work and ideas as widely known as possible so that individual catholics who share its views and anxieties may not feel isolated and despondent, but may have a proper opportunity of clarifying their own ideas and beliefs through participation directly or indirectly in the Movements work.


7. Members are those who, being catholics and on the mailing list, have expressed their endorsement of the Movement¡Ùs aims either in writing, by signing the declaration attached to the Manifesto or otherwise, or by paying a subscription.

8. Individual members are encouraged to join local groups wherever possible.

9. Local groups are entirely free to organise themselves without reference to the Movement. They remain autonomous, insofar as is consistent with the general aims and policy of the Movement.

10. There is an annual subscription to the Movement, the amount of which is to be determined by the national conference from time to time. It falls due in October of each year, for the following twelve months.


11. There shall be at least one national conference of the Movement each year, open to all members. If possible, it will take place in October and is designated the AGM of the Movement. Both National Conference and Executive shall at all times by open discussion seek consensus in making decisions; but when necessary a vote will be taken on demand.

12. Voting at conferences may be one of two types. A resolution committing officers or members of the Movement to specific actions, or recommendations shall require that a quorum of 10 members be present during the discussion preceding the vote, and that at least two-thirds of them cast their vote in support of that resolution. Other resolutions may be adopted by a simple majority of those present, but shall be regarded as indicative of the view of those present only.

13. No major question may be the subject of a binding resolution unless written notice, preferably with supporting argument, shall have been posted to all members of the movement at least four weeks before the date of the conference at which the said resolution is to be discussed, unless an emergency arises during that period.

14. If a national conference or the national executive deems it necessary, a postal vote of all members may be resorted to.

The National Executive

15. The national executive shall consist of ten members elected at the AGM. It shall be responsible for the day-to-day business, decisions and administration of the Movement. The AGM shall elect by a simple majority vote the following members of the national executive: Chairman, two vice-Chairmen, seven other members. The Executive shall invite and then publish nominations, using the newsletter or by other means, at least two weeks before the A.G.M., providing members with a voting slip to be returned by post or handed in at the A.G.M. The A.G.M. has power to elect Officers and Committee members if vacancies remain after this procedure. Proxy votes are not permitted.

16. The executive shall have power to co-opt up to five other people as members.

17. The executive shall appoint the following officers from among its members: secretariat and treasurer. Other officers may be appointed as necessary.

18. Co-opted members of the executive may or may not be given voting rights, according to the wishes of the elected members. They may be asked to join the executive for the whole of its year of office, or for a shorter period.

19. The AGM shall endeavour to ensure that there is adequate representation on the executive from all areas where the Movement is well established. At their first meeting during or after the AGM, the elected members of the executive shall consider whether it needs to co-opt members from regions still unrepresented within its ranks and having a substantial CRM membership.


20. This constitution may be amended only by an AGM under the terms of paragraphs 12 and 13 above.


21. Dissolution shall be dealt with under the procedures of paras. 13 and 14. Any such proposal shall include instructions as to the disposal of assets, and its passing shall be subject to a two-thirds majority of those voting

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