VOTF agenda in Hartford ,CT   by Paul Norton, Hartford,CT, Knights of Columbus Member

…“the Church has to become less Roman and more Catholic” Fr.Cesaro


One orthodox Catholic’s view, July 17, 2003 Hartford, Ct

Written by Paul Norton, parishioner of Cathedral of Saint Joseph



As a devote Catholic, I recently attended a meeting of the regional Voice of the Faithful (VOTF) meeting. I had entered this gathering held at St. Patrick/St. Anthony Church in Hartford, CT. with an open mind regarding their stated goals of “structural change within the Church.” What I discovered was a regional leadership of the group, the four panelist-priests, who advocated such anti-traditional goals of married and women clergy, and doing away with the celibacy requirement. This was all in the name of confronting the Crisis and Cover-up amidst the so-called child abuse scandal.


Their invocation of “influence and challenge” to change leadership selection within the Church was meant to rally the activists who came from greater Hartford area Churches.


About 275 individuals. About 60 % women.

Age seemed around 50 to 60. Lots of same-sex couple.

Also held in a Church with "Gay and Lesbian Ministry, coincidently, meeting same time, same location.

I have also written a commentary that hopefully, will be printed in Waterbury Republican American.



It must be said that their strong rhetoric of Church bashing from within ignored underlying facts surrounding the scandal.


Missing was an understanding of how the priesthood had been infiltrated by permissive agents of immorality and homosexuality.


Much has been written by Catholic writers Michael Rose and Phillip Jenkins. Typical rates of sexual relations between “child abuser” priests and teenage boys have been compiled. U. S. News and World Report’s John Leo commented that one study in Chicago showed 40 abusers out of 2200 priests with one of whom fit the definition of pedophile. Certainly, devote Catholics and society must ask what the root cause was. The differences between a pedophile and someone engaging in homosexual behavior may be inconsequential to the unorthodox and gay rights advocate. However, from a Church governance perspective, it is necessary to recognize that sexually permissiveness and sexual orientation advocacy are practices that destroy the goodness and holiness of the Church’s mission.


Within the Hartford VOTF’s group philosophy, as espoused by Fr. Leary from St. Joseph , Bristol, Church educational people must create an environment that enables young persons “to ask questions about their own orientation, about the orientation of others, and about sexuality in general.” It was unclear what grade levels are appropriate for such instruction despite the theological belief that sexual deviancy is considered a sin, one that can be corrected and forgiven.



What astonished me the most about the advocacy for confronting the thousands-year-old wisdom of religiosity was the favorable reaction to such heresy by VOTF-Hartford. The change advocated is in direct opposition to Church Catechism and Papal authority.


Judging by the age of the attendees, the movement is being pushed by baby boomers that possibly, in their later years care less about reverent practices and more about winning a political battle and getting their way. That battle, led by perhaps, one powerful group in socio-political activity, has been waged over the last three years in Connecticut. With the help of a 75,000 signature campaign, conducted by the Catholic Knights of Columbus, the gay rights crowd was stopped with their same-sex civil union’s bill dying in the Judiciary Committee within the state legislature.



Often, the words of thought-police advocates, who attempt to control discussion in matters of importance, are filled with terms such as “cloaked meaning” and “intolerance.” Worse than those control terms was the insidious use of “democratic structure” and “setting the people free” at the July 15th meeting. Somehow, the VOTF movement is painting itself as one of liberation.


In effect, the only thing that the VOTF Hartford is encouraging is the sinful activity of a small number of fringe priests who broke their vows, preyed on defenseless individuals, and require rehabilitation and forgiveness.


It is an integral part of the group’s agenda to use the scandal as a cause-celeb to gain numbers of Church-goers to affect the agenda of women and gays in the clergy.


The only crisis that currently, exists within Church governance is in confronting the manipulative forces that have escaped prior leadership scrutiny.


Individual and unacceptable behaviors within the priesthood must be looked at in light of the reform measures cloaked in secrecy by the Voice of the Faithful. 



The Voice of The Faithful (FOTF) meeting held at St. Patrick/St Anothony Roman Catholic Church in Hartford on July 15 was moderated by Florence Shields.


The meeting was staged with four RC priest panelists for the purposes of encouraging attendees to  “influence and challenge” the leadership of their individual parishes.


Of the four “panelists”:


Rev. Cesaro of St Augustine in Hartford was the most definitive of the VOTF group’s stated goal of “:structural change within the Church.” He advocated for women priests, married clergy, and elimination of the celibacy requirement for clergy.

The most telling statement made by Cesaro was, “the Church has to become less Roman and more Catholic . . . we have an imperial government.”


Rev. Frascadore of St Dominic in Sothington predicted “the whole Church is going to be radically changed in the next three years. . . the Eucharist being held hostile to celibacy right now. . . is going to get worse.” Continuing, Frascadore attacked “conservative seminaries” that “stressing loyalty, obedience, and non-thinking” producing clergy “coming out like robots.” He considered Hartford diocesan seminarians attending (St. Mary’s) as “really bad news.”


Fr. Leary , St. Joseph , Bristol , CT.


Rev. Hynes , St Anthony/St. Patrick, Hartford ,CT.


Suggestions for reform of Church structure advocated by the panelists included “using the best minds” and “creative people” in order to get rid of a form that has not worked in confronting the crisis and cover-up of the abuse scandal. In invoking change in the current form of Church government “the form that is no longer viable” was confronted, recommending “priests that you’re going to have to enter the vocation to (challenge/replace?) the bishops.” (Hynes, Frascadore)



It is determined that the key factual outcomes of the meeting were:


1.The leadership of the Greater Hartford VOTF is the four greater Hartford priest panelists who made recommendations to parishioners from the greater Hartford region.


2.Structural changes within the Church was defined as women and married clergy and elimination of celibacy vows.


3.A change in the hierarchical order of selected Church councils and the selection of Bishops is sought by the Regional Hartford VOTF.


Key words used and their assumed definitions:


1.Affirming – Church clergy and lay staff accepting structural change advocates with open arms into Church governance.


2.Democratic Reforms – Replacing accountability and responsibility to Bishops with autonomy in selecting individual parish priests and Bishops.


3.Crisis and Cover-up – Term used by VOTF to invoke sympathy for structural changes.


4.Structural Change – Gradual overturning of Church doctrine through governance change with goal of same-sex Church marriage, woman and homosexual priests, and a break from patriarchal Rome papacy.


Other meeting quotes:


“. . . by coming out there’s a change that has to happen in the hierarchy of the Church.” (Hynes, St Patrick/Anthony when supposedly, referring to the need to confront the Crisis and Coverup)


In confronting the “Crisis and Cover-up” Fr. Leary of St. Joseph in Bristol claimed, it “would not of happened if the structure was in place in the Church.”


“Go back into your parishes and enlighten them.” (Cesaro)


In answering one questioner, Fr. Leary of Bristol stated, “Questions are raised. Discussion and resolution of the question. Create the environment in which the young person feels confidant and securely, to ask the questions about their own orientation, about the orientation of others, an about sexuality in general.”



Please contact Hartford@FaithfulVoice.com  with any questions.

I do have an audiotape of the meeting to back up the quotations.


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