One of the very frustrating things about politics for me is that so many people, both on the Left and the Right, speak about rights as if the Constitution (or government, in general) is their source. God is the source of our rights, not any man-made government. In America, certain of these God-given rights are considered to be so basic that, in order to have an orderly society, government must defend them. This is why we have a Constitution, because laws and law enforcement preserve us from the horrific consequences of anarchy. In all other things but defense of basic rights, government is supposed to be silent. Because our rights come from God, and because people have diverse views about God, the force of government in defense of rights has to be limited to the basics in order that our civil government does not oppress those of different beliefs. Our rights, though, are many more in number than what we see in civil law.
Here, in no particular order and paraphrased from the Code of Canon Law, are ten rights that I have, in my understanding as a Catholic believer in God, that are not listed in the Constitution. I have others besides those I list here. The silence of government on these matters does not mean that the right does not exist. It is between me, God, and the Church. Having said that, if any civil law infringes on these and any other rights that I have in accordance with the Catholic Faith, then that law is an unjust law.
Ten Rights Not Mentioned in the U.S. Constitution
1. Right to spread the Gospel in accordance with the teaching of the Catholic Church.
2. Right to express my needs and desires, particularly spiritual ones, to the Church.
3. Right to express any concerns that I may have to priests and to my bishop about matters pertaining to the good of the Church.
4. Right to follow my own spiritual life provided that it is in keeping with the teaching of the Catholic Church.
5. Right to education that is in accordance with the teachings of the Catholic Church.
6. Right to a good reputation.
7. Right to be free from coercion in choosing a state of life.
8. Right to inquire about spiritual matters from those I am in obedience to, such as a spiritual director or confessor.
9. Right to worship God in accordance with the Latin rite of the Catholic Church.
10. Right to be subjected to discipline that is within the bounds of the norms of Church law. (No excessive discipline.)
Again, this list is not a complete list of my rights. None of these rights are specifically delineated in the federal United States Constitution and it is certainly not necessary for me, or any Catholic, that they be in the Constitution. What is necessary for me as a Catholic is that my government, no matter which country I am a citizen of, refrain from enacting laws that trample on my rights as a Catholic.
As it stands, the U.S. Constitution protects freedom of religion. That includes any expression of my Catholic Faith, no matter what it may be. Unfortunately, our government is doing more and more these days to trample on our rights as Catholics. The reason is that so many people today see government as if government is God and, as such, the author of all rights. They have no religion apart from government, which has become their religion. While I see God as the source of my rights, they see government as the source, whether as a conservative Republican who believes the only rights are listed in the Constitution, or as a liberal Democrat who believes that rights are determined by majority vote.
Until Americans decide once more to embrace the Founders’ view that our rights come from God alone, and that it is government’s role to defend, even with the proverbial sword, only the most basic of them, Catholics are going to have differences of opinion with people in both parties.