UNFINISHED BUSINESS: By M Dempsey The Patriot Ledger 21 Oct 03
existence is predicated upon a view of ecclesiastical authority and
lay-episcopal relations that rubs against the grain of Catholic doctrine and
The Patriot Ledger
that the victims of clergy sexual abuse have been offered compensation, and now
that the stories of priests abusing children have subsided, many lay Catholics
believe their church is back on track.
that's hardly the case, said Jack Lutts, an active member of the Quincy chapter
of the Faithful, an organization founded last year in response to news reports of
the church's cover-up of sexual abuse by priests.
get the sense just listening that people think, ŒThey got their money and it's
over,''' Lutts said. ŒŒIt's a kind of closure, but it's a beginning. The next
step is to have the bishops and the laity dialogue.''
than a year after its founding, the Catholic lay group is still struggling
with an image problem, said Lutts and other leaders.
the issue is:
the group intend harm or help?
it bucking authority or working in the mainstream?
leaders say they simply seek to involve lay Catholics in decisions that are now
entirely out of their hands - clergy appointments, the screening of ordination
candidates, how church money is budgeted and spent.
are we so demonized?'' said Mary Ellen Kabat, who like Lutts is a member of St.
John's parish in Quincy. ŒŒDidn't this affect other Catholics the way it
affects us? Don't other Catholics see the need for reform?''
But many Catholics, including Patty Mullally, a member of
St. Ann's parish in Wollaston, see Voice as a
fringe group made up of rabble-rousers with no real goal.
than griping about the awfulness of what happened, they have no real wants,''
Mullally said. ŒŒThere is no real agenda.''
D. Zizik, a member of St. Theresa parish in Sherborn, writing in the National
Catholic Reporter, said the group [ VOTF ] wants to change church doctrine.
fact, the group's existence is predicated upon a view of ecclesiastical
authority and lay-episcopal relations that rubs against the grain of Catholic
doctrine and tradition,'' Zizik said.
of the Faithful spokeswoman Luise Dittrich defended the group, saying, ŒŒAs a
grass-roots organization, we have every intention of reaching out to every
latest figures show that the group numbers 30,000 Catholics worldwide in 186
parishes. Massachusetts membership is in the hundreds, say leaders.
attributes the visceral reaction of many Catholics to a tradition of obedience
in the church.
tradition, she said, is outdated and
culture was very much one of deference and blind trust,'' Dittrich said.
ŒŒThere are a lot of people who are still there - psychologically and
emotionally. It is very scary to challenge any aspect of the church, even if
the church is wrong.''
resigning from office, Cardinal Bernard Law banned Voice of the Faithful and other
ŒŒdivisive organizations.'' He then altered the ban to include only those Voice
chapters that sought to organize and hold meetings after the ban had been
ban is still in effect, making Boston one of eight U.S dioceses that have
banned the group, according to Dittrich.
In accordance with the ban, St. Ann's Church in Wollaston will not allow Voice of the Faithful to hold meetings on church property.
pastor, Monsignor Robert P. Deeley, said that despite his enforcement of the
ban, he has not made a judgment on the organization.
simply am waiting for the diocese to make its decision and give us guidance,''
St. John's Church in Quincy, the Rev. Peter Quinn, pastor, has allowed the
Quincy chapter to meet at the church because the group was formed before the
just see two conversations going by each other,'' the Rev. Quinn said. ŒŒI
think there is a lot of misunderstanding about Voice of the Faithful. Like any
kind of a group, the fringe (members) get accentuated, as opposed to the
mainstream members who are very, very faithful, like the ones who are involved
in our own parish.''
who attends Mass regularly at St. John's, said she is aghast at the reaction of
some of her fellow parishioners to her involvement with Voice.
said parishioners have informed her they were praying for her soul.
are a fledgling group that is responding to this horrible crisis as any normal
person would,'' Kabat said. ŒŒThis is a devastating thing that has happened to
now, the group continues to call for reform, most recently asking for a public
audit of the church's finances so that the laity can make an assessment of the
church's overall financial health. They believe the church would be well served
to take advantage of the financial expertise in the lay community in helping
get the books back in order.
you look at our tenets, we are trying to live the Gospel message,'' Dittrich
said. ŒŒWe are reaching out to the survivors. That's what Jesus was all about.
Trying to reach out to marginalized people and bring them into his world of
following is excerpted from a statement on www.votf.org
of the Faithful Inc., is an organization composed of Catholics striving to be
faithful to the teachings of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ ...
believe that sexual abuse by clergy and the response of bishops, protecting
abusers and forsaking the abused, have caused great human suffering and damaged
the moral authority of our Church.
believe that the laity has the grace, dignity, intelligence, responsibility and
obligation to cooperate in Church governance in a meaningful way according to
the norm of law (cf. Canon 129) to correct the profound flaws that have been
revealed in the human institutional life of our Church.
believe that the council documents of Vatican II illuminate the pathway for lay
involvement in the Church.
2003 The Patriot Ledger
Saturday, October 18, 2003
does Voice of the Faithful support a homosexual priesthood?
of all abuse was ephebophilia , intergenerational homosexual activity.