Fire all Bishops. Start  American Church.

VOTF holds Mass in response to church closings The Pilot 23 AUG 04

By Christine Tolfree

From the Kyrie to the remarks before the final prayer, the celebrants, too,  took occasion of the Mass to criticize the bishops and the archdiocese's parish  reconfiguration program.

The Archdiocese of Boston has confused the mission of the Church with the  money of the Church, Father Bowers said in his homily. The statement evoked  a round of applause from the crowd.

Father Bowers went on to criticize bishops who cite lack of priests, church  buildings in need of repairs and low attendance as reasons for closing parishes.

 

 

 

The Feast of the Assumption, Aug. 15, was cold, cloudy and windy on the Boston  Common. Yet about 1,000 people - priests, Voice of the Faithful members and  other Catholics - braved the chilling weather for a Mass organized by VOTF  in response to the archdiocese's decision to close more than 80 parishes in  the coming months.

 

Four of the five priests concelebrating the Mass were from parishes named  for closure:

 

Father Ronald D. Coyne of St. Albert the Great Parish in Weymouth, Father  Robert J. Bowers of St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Charlestown, Father Stephen  S. Josoma of St. Susanna Parish in Dedham and Father David H. Gill, S.J. of  St. Mary of the Angels Parish in Roxbury. Also joining them was Father Patrick  J. McLaughlin of St. Joseph Parish in Medford.

 

About 1,000 people gather in a corner of the Boston Common Mass  organized by VOTF in response to the archdiocese's decision to close  more than 80 parishes in the coming months. Pilot photo by Gregory L. Tracy

 

Maryetta Dussourd, the mother and aunt of victims of convicted child molester  John Geoghan spoke before Mass.

 

She told worshipers, "I know that you suffer pain and sadness ... I know these  pains, but I also know you're in the greatest Church," she said.

 

"It is time to realize that God is more important than buildings," she said.  "You haven't lost your faith and you haven't lost each other."

 

The Mass was meant to "attend to the grieving of all parishes that are closing"  and worshipers were encouraged to "stand in solidarity and unity with all Catholics  in the Archdiocese of Boston during this difficult time," according to an advertisement  that ran in the Aug. 6 edition of The Pilot. However, many worshipers were  also there to protest the closing of their parishes. They brought signs that read, "Open windows, open hearts. Closed doors?" and "Fire all Bishops. Start  American Church."

 

From the Kyrie to the remarks before the final prayer, the celebrants, too,  took occasion of the Mass to criticize the bishops and the archdiocese's parish  reconfiguration program.

 

"The Archdiocese of Boston has confused the mission of the Church with the  money of the Church," Father Bowers said in his homily. The statement evoked  a round of applause from the crowd.

 

Father Bowers went on to criticize bishops who cite lack of priests, church  buildings in need of repairs and low attendance as reasons for closing parishes.

 

"What we don't have are bishops who have the courage to say 'Why?'" he said.

 

"Look what we have. We do have each other. ... We have a voice of the faithful,  strength, resource and God with us," he continued.

 

Many parishioners from St. Albert the Great Parish - one of several parishes  vowing to appeal the archdiocese's decision to close their church - wore yellow  bumper stickers on their backs that read simply, "Keep St. Albert's Open."  Parishioner Peg Eberle was one of them.

 

"We need to stay open," she said. "All of our Masses are absolutely, positively  packed."

 

Eberle and her family moved from St. Louis, Missouri two years ago and had  difficulty finding a parish where they felt comfortable, she said. St. Albert's  was "the first parish to welcome us and not just send us collection envelopes,"  she said.

 

Signs bearing the name of each closing parish lined both sides of the walkway  leading to the Mass, and closing song was a litany including of the names of  the closing churches.

 

A collection was taken at the Mass, which was to be divided into evenly to  support for survivors of clergy abuse, retired clergy and local charities of  the type that would have been supported by closing parishes.

 

The altar was placed on a stage under a blue canopy and decorated with sunflowers  and ferns. It stood in the same place Pope John Paul II celebrated Mass during  his 1979 visit to Boston. It rained on that day 25 years ago and threatened  to again thanks to the remnants of Hurricane Charley.

 

"Clearly this proves we are not fair weather Catholics. We are all-weather  Catholics," said VOTF president Jim Post, speaking to The Pilot following the  Mass.

 

VOTF, a group of lay Catholics based in Newton, was formed in response to  the clergy sexual abuse crisis. It now claims 35,000 members nationwide.

 

"You don't control an organization like this. You help people keep a focus,"  said Post. "It's been both impressive and humbling."

 

Father Bowers' brother, Bill Bowers, came to support his brother and parishioners  of closing parishes.

 

"Some things got said that needed to be said," he said. "The hierarchy of  the Church - whether it be in Boston or internationally - needs to hear the  voice of the laity and needs to abide by that voice."

 

Parishioners from churches that will remain open also attended the Mass to  show their support. Martin O'Connor of County Galway in Ireland attended the  Mass to support friends from St. Susanna.

 

"It hurts me to hear about all the lovely parishes closing up," he said.

 

"Those of us that aren't closing, it's not like we're not feeling the same  anxiety and pain," said Susan Troy, a founding VOTF member from St. John the  Evangelist in Wellesley. "We wanted to be in solidarity with them and the best  way to do that is the Eucharist."

 

 

 

 

 Copyright (c) 2004 Archdiocese of Boston; all rights reserved

 

Division does not come from God

 

To camouflage a protest against the Archdiocese of Boston as a eucharistic  celebration was, to say the least, thoroughly inappropriate. In the Eucharist  we celebrate our unity with Christ and with the Church. It should not become  an anti-establishment rally.

 

Though outwardly calling for unity, Voice of the Faithful is promoting division  and encouraging an atmosphere of cynicism against the Church. That is what  they did in the height of the clergy abuse crisis when they called on Catholics  to withhold contributions from the archdiocese's annual appeal under the cry,  "No donations without representation" - and that is what they are doing now.

 

Rebels now without a cause, VOTF has become an advocacy group whose mission  seems to be simply searching for occasions to discredit the hierarchy of the  Church. Their fight is no longer centered on the misdeeds of a particular bishop  or around a specific issue. It is about bashing decisions bishops make in their  proper role as shepherds.

 

Unfortunately, it seems VOTF is following a familiar pattern. In Europe, We  Are Church was born in the aftermath of sexual scandals in the Austrian Church.  Today, they are an extremist group that decries the hierarchy and calls for  such things as the full democratization of the Church and the ordination of  women to the priesthood. When two years ago VOTF members gathered at the Hynes Convention Center, Thomas Arens, international coordinator of We Are Church  was one of the five keynote speakers to address the convention's general session.  At the time we expressed concern that VOTF could find itself moving along the  same path as Arens' organization.

 

As an advocacy group, VOTF's continuation depends on their ability to sustain  a climate of confrontation with the institution they oppose. In its beginnings,  VOTF found that momentum in the clergy abuse scandal. However, as the Church  has aggressively responded to the scandal both locally and nationally, that  momentum has faded greatly.

 

Their effort to sustain themselves has led them to broaden their agenda. An  opinion piece printed Aug. 14 in The Boston Globe written by VOTF leaders John  Hynes and Sheila Connors Grove invokes several issues in addition to those  related to the abuse scandal: the role of women in the Church, the "divisive  discussion" of same-sex marriage and the reconfiguration process.

 

All those issues point towards an overall dismissal of their bishop's leadership  and his efforts to rebuild the Church. They go as far as to say that the Church  is "dying" and that "those who are charged to save it seem content to let it  go rather than making those changes that would require them to be more accountable."  That is a deplorable accusation against their bishop, particularly one who  has done so much to heal the wounds resulting from the sexual abuse scandal.

 

Lumen Gentium has strong words for those who reject their bishop: "The Sacred  Council teaches that bishops by divine institution have succeeded to the place  of the apostles, as shepherds of the Church, and he who hears them, hears Christ,  and he who rejects them, rejects Christ and Him who sent Christ."

 

Yes Virginia, there is a hell

 

In a recent Boston Globe feature article on St. Albert the Great parish in  Weymouth the existence of hell was called into question.

 

In light of that article, this may be an appropriate time to reiterate that,  according to the Catechism, "the teaching of the Church affirms the existence  of hell and its eternity."

 

In recent years, some have tended to avoid references to hell and that which  leads to hell,  mortal sin, in an effort to counterbalance excesses of the  past.

 

Yet, in reality, discounting the existence of hell limits a person's freedom  because to be able to genuinely accept Christ we must also have the option  to reject Him.

 

Without hell, the understanding of sin as self-destruction with potential  eternal consequences is replaced by a concept of proportional judgment of behavior.  In  that conception of reality, life becomes simply an equation of good and evil.  Certain  sins, therefore, are allowable as long as they are eventually balanced out  by good works. In the end, to be saved, all one needs to be is a generally  "good person." This carries with it the risk of creating a self-righteous mentality.

 

Once this becomes the case, the need to repent, to go to receive forgiveness  in the Sacrament of Penance, is greatly obscured.

 

The Holy Father took occasion of one of his Wednesday general audiences to  instruct the faithful on the meaning of hell. You can find his catechesis on  page 19.

 

 

 

 

 Copyright (c) 2004 Archdiocese of Boston; all rights reserved

 

 

 

 

 

By Jay Lindsay, Associated Press Writer  |  August 26, 2004

 

NEWTON, Mass. --Rain threatened, but Catholics by the hundreds still streamed to Boston Common for a Mass organized by a lay church reform group to protest the closing of dozens of area parishes.

 

The turnout for the Aug. 15 event demonstrated Voice of the Faithful's continuing power to mobilize Catholics. Two and a half years after the group emerged from the wreckage of the clergy sex abuse scandal in the Boston Archdiocese, the church closings have given Voice's members a new cause to rally behind.

 

But the group's influence on the church it aims to change remains uncertain. Catholic leaders in Boston have shown little inclination to pay it heed, and some observers, criticizing a lack of focus, question how long the group can survive.

 

"So far, I think they've been sort of reactive and opportunistic," said Phil Lawler, editor of the Catholic World Report, a monthly news magazine.

 

The archdiocese has long questioned the group's motivations, citing links to people who oppose church teachings. And a ban that keeps new chapters from meeting on church property has remained in place through three leaders of the archdiocese, despite repeated pleas by the group's leaders.

 

The Rev. Richard McBrien, a University of Notre Dame theologian, said Voice of the Faithful has emerged as an important representative of the laity with a key role to play in the church's future, despite the church's resistance.

 

"It will not peter out. That's wishful thinking," McBrien said. "The issue on which they were ultimately founded is going to continue for a long time."

 

Voice of the Faithful was started by Jim Muller, a Harvard Medical School cardiologist, amid grief and anger over the abuse scandal, which began in Boston in January 2002. Documents showed church leaders shifted pedophile priests from parish to parish, rather than remove them from ministry, and concealed their crimes.

 

The archdiocese's leader at the time, Cardinal Bernard Law, delayed meeting with the group for months, then declined to accept a donation from it, setting an icy tone that has persisted.

 

As the sex abuse scandal spread to other dioceses, Voice of the Faithful grew alongside it. It now counts about 200 national and international affiliates, but its biggest base remains in the Boston area, home to 44 chapters and half its membership.

 

Voice of the Faithful claims about 30,000 members, but the number of active members is likely far lower. The number is tabulated from a list of people who gave a name and said they agreed with the group's goals through e-mail or other media.

 

The administration is tiny. It employs just three full-time workers. Executive Director Steve Krueger, a former investment banker, pulls in the largest annual salary at $48,000.

 

Voice of the Faithful relies on donations; according to annual reports, it got $585,982 in contributions in fiscal 2003 and $599,633 in 2004 -- steady support despite a significant drop in media coverage of clergy sex abuse following last year's $85 million settlement with victims in Boston.

 

The group has been energized by anger over the scheduled closure of 82 parishes as part of a major restructuring brought on partly by the abuse scandal. The archdiocese says the closures were needed in the face of declining attendance and financial woes.

 

Parishioners have complained they had little say in the process and have accused the archdiocese of stalling the appeals process -- just the kind of complaints about a marginalized laity that Voice of the Faithful exists to address.

 

The group's three stated goals are to support abuse victims, support priests of integrity and shape structural change in the church.

 

Its slogan -- "Keep the faith, change the Church" -- has long raised concerns among church leaders, says the Rev. Christopher Coyne, spokesman for the archdiocese.

 

From its beginning, Coyne said, the group has associated with people who want to "change the Church" by altering its teachings on issues like abortion and gay rights. For instance, Debra Haffner, a well-known pro-choice activist, spoke at its first summer convention.

 

Coyne also noted a May incident in which Voice of the Faithful president Jim Post publicly scolded archbishop Sean O'Malley for what he called a "divisive" stand against gay marriage. O'Malley was simply articulating the church's view that marriage is between one man and one woman, Coyne said.

 

"It doesn't quite jibe with them saying, 'We believe what the church believes,'" Coyne said.

 

The Rev. Robert Carr, parochial vicar at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross, said Voice of the Faithful seems to be obsessed with its own grievances, rather than with the broader issues facing Catholics. "I think they will peter out," he said.

 

But Krueger said the numbers indicate that the group is getting stronger. He rejected doubts about its motivations, saying his group has unequivocally stated that it accepts church teachings and pointed to the Aug. 15 mass on Boston Common as an emphatic statement of the group's commitment to Catholicism.

 

"The running joke around here is, 'If you find the hidden agenda, would you let us know where it is?'" he said.

 

Krueger said the group's association with people of differing views is in the spirit of the Second Vatican Council, the 1962-65 meeting that modernized aspects of the Roman Catholic Church and envisioned a respectful dialogue between opposing viewpoints.

 

"It doesn't say you'll only talk to Catholics who pass some sort of litmus test," Krueger said.

 

Though the group has struggled to make inroads with church leaders, its proven public influence makes it important, Krueger said. The church is losing membership, and can't afford to alienate the public and the parishioners it depends on for funds.

 

From the start, Voice of the Faithful envisioned a more collaborative relationship with the church because the laity has such a huge stake in its future. That could still happen, Krueger said.

 

"At some point, the bishops will realize that Voice of the Faithful are the best friends that they have," he said. 

  Copyright  2004 The New York Times Company

 

 

Parishioners refuse to leave church scheduled to close

 

By Denise Lavoie, Associated Press Writer  |  August 31, 2004

 

WEYMOUTH, Mass. --John Hammel is spending his summer vacation in church.

 

The 55-year-old father of three has been home just three times in the past three days, and has spent the rest of his time off praying, eating and sleeping at St. Albert the Great church, where he has been a parishioner for almost 30 years.

 

Hammel, with help from fellow parishioners, is staging a sit-in prayer vigil at St. Albert's in hopes of saving it from being closed as part of a massive reconfiguration by the Boston Archdiocese.

 

St. Albert's was scheduled to close Wednesday, but parishioners say they won't leave.

 

"If the bank was trying to come take my home, I wouldn't walk away from it. I'd do everything in my power to keep it," Hammel said. "Well, this is my spiritual home, and I'm not going to let it go."

 

After the last Mass was celebrated at the church Sunday evening, Hammel and a determined group of about 10 parishioners refused to leave. They stayed overnight, and since then, others have come by to help.

 

Signup sheets at the back of the church are filled with the names of more than 200 who have offered to do shifts during the occupation. A hearty few have offered to spend the night, and many others have offered to spend two, three or four hours at a time.

 

At lunchtime on Tuesday, more than two dozen were gathered in the church. Some prayed, some ranted about the closing and still others wanted to share stories about their church.

 

Chuck McElman has been a member of St. Albert's since 1977. When his mother became too ill to live at home, St. Albert's pastor, the Rev. Ron Coyne, visited her at her nursing home. When she died in October, just before her 92nd birthday, Coyne performed the Last Rites and later officiated at her funeral.

 

So when McElman heard parishioners were holding a sit-in to try to save the church, he stopped by to offer his support. His sister flew home from Texas just to attend the final Mass on Sunday.

 

"This is one of the few times in my life when I've walked into a church when I didn't have to," said McElman. "This church makes you feel part of a community and gives you a feeling of acceptance."

 

Philip Healy, 74, of Weymouth, set up his pillow and quilt on a pew directly in front of a stained glass window dedicated to his namesake saint, Philip.

 

"I'll be here tonight and every night until they say the church can stay open," he said.

 

St. Albert's is among a list of 82 churches to be closed by the archdiocese. Archbishop Sean O'Malley, who was named leader of the nation's fourth-largest diocese a year ago, cited declining Mass attendance, a shortage of priests, aging buildings requiring costly renovations and the archdiocese's financial problems for the closings.

 

The clergy sex abuse scandal, which erupted in Boston in 2002 before spreading to dioceses across the country, exacerbated the archdiocese's problems.

 

But parishioners say that St. Albert's, with 1,600 families, a paid-off mortgage and renovated buildings, fits none of the criteria O'Malley said would be used to decide which churches would be shuttered.

 

"This past Sunday, it was easier to get tickets to Fenway Park than to get a seat at Mass here," said Joe Rizzo, 43, of Rockland, a digital network salesman who has been a parishioner at St. Albert's for 17 years.

 

"The pews are packed every Sunday," he said.

 

A spokesman for O'Malley, the Rev. Christopher Coyne, said the archbishop had to close one of the five Catholic churches in Weymouth. St. Albert's was chosen, he said, because it does not have a school and has the smallest church building in town.

 

Although the archdiocese had planned to close the church building at noon Wednesday, Coyne said officials have decided to hold off to avoid a confrontation with the parishioners who have stationed themselves there.

 

"We don't have any plan right now other than to be patient," Coyne said. "We're certainly not going to do anything to escalate the situation. As time goes on, we hope to reach a resolution."

 

But Coyne said O'Malley will not change his mind about closing the church.

 

"St. Albert's is closing not because the building is falling down or attendance at Mass is not strong. ... We simply can't afford to keep five parishes in Weymouth," Coyne said.

 

Some parishioners don't hold out much hope that the prayer vigil and sit-in will stop the archdiocese from closing St. Albert's. They are more hopeful about a lawsuit they filed against the archdiocese last week in which they claim parishioners, not the archdiocese, own the church.

 

"I feel very sad about it," said the pastor, the Rev. Ron Coyne, no relation to the archdiocese spokesman. "It's very unjust. They saw new life coming into this parish and yet didn't even take that into consideration."

 

Hammel is one parishioner who thinks the sit-in may convince O'Malley that St. Albert's should remain open.

 

"I do believe in miracles," he said. 

  Copyright  2004 The New York Times Company

 

 

Weymouth parishioners stage sit-in to protest closing

 

By Bella English, Globe Staff  |  August 31, 2004

 

WEYMOUTH -- Angry and grieving parishioners at St. Albert the Great have begun a sit-in prayer vigil to protest the closing of their parish by the Archdiocese of Boston, and vowed yesterday to remain inside the church indefinitely. The church is scheduled to be shut down tomorrow under a reconfiguration plan that has targeted 82 parishes for closing by year's end.

 

''We're going to go down with the ship," said Pat Perry, a eucharistic minister who works in the rectory. ''There is no reason under the sun to close us. We've got a wonderful pastor, a debt-free church, and standing room only at every Mass. I feel like I'm at a wake, but we don't have a casket."

 

The archdiocese had planned to change the locks of the church at noon tomorrow. Because of the sit-in, those plans will probably change. ''We'll let things settle down," said the Rev. Christopher Coyne, a spokesman for the archdiocese. ''Because of the fact people are saying they're sitting in, and it looks like they're looking for a confrontation, we are going to do everything we can to avoid it." But he said that as of midnight tonight, ''the parish is no longer a parish."

 

''We're not going to drag people out of church," Coyne said. ''We're not going to have people forcibly removed. . . . The archbishop says let's just be patient and work this out as Christians."

 

At St. Albert's, where protesters plan to rotate shifts, a sign-up sheet for volunteers was full of signatures, and organizers say they had enough people willing to stay indefinitely.

 

Evelyn Morton, 78, was among them. After the last Mass, at 6 p.m. Sunday, she spent the night on a church pew. ''I want to keep the church open if we possibly can," she said yesterday. She vowed to return last night, despite the cold air conditioning and ''one guy who snored."

 

Rita Garufi brought her German shepherd, Nikki, with her for a late-night shift. ''We'll be there again tonight," she said yesterday. ''He's a good Catholic dog. He was born in a monastery."

 

Someone had taped a large red sign to the front door of the church: ''My Parish. My Faith. My Family. Let Me Keep Them All!!" A sign stuck in the ground simply said: ''Pray for St. Albert's."

 

The final Mass of St. Albert the Great's 54 years of existence started with a standing ovation for the popular parish priest, the Rev. Ron Coyne, and ended with a reception in the parish hall. Each of the four weekend Masses overflowed with parishioners. Kleenex boxes dotted every pew. Worshipers lined the outer aisles, stood in the back, crowded into the foyer, and spilled onto the front steps.

 

Since May 25, when St. Albert's was told it was to close, the parish has swung into action, holding rallies, filing a canon appeal, and raising $100,000 for a civil lawsuit against the archdiocese, which was filed Friday. The closing and merging of churches, the archdiocese says, is necessitated by declining attendance and collections, the poor condition of many churches, and a shortage of priests. St. Albert's meets none of the criteria for closing: Its pews and coffers are full, its buildings in good shape. But the archdiocese says Weymouth can no longer support five churches. St. Albert's, the smallest of the five, was chosen by representatives of the other four, partly because it has no school.

 

According to the lawsuit, parishioners -- not the archdiocese -- own the church, and the archbishop is ''merely the trustee" of the property. Citing a 1909 Massachusetts case, the affidavit states that the property ''is held not for the benefit of the archdiocese but for each parish independently . . ."

 

Christopher Coyne said the lawsuit was not unexpected: ''They have been threatening to do this all along." He noted that another parish that filed a similar lawsuit, Sacred Heart in Boston's North End, was denied a court injunction to remain open. That church closed last week as a parish but will remain open as a chapel. As of tomorrow, a total of 20 parishes are to be closed.

 

At St. Albert's this weekend, a member of the pastoral council gave parishioners an update on the fight to keep the church open and asked them to attend a court hearing on Sept. 8. They were also directed to a new parish website and told about monthly meetings for parishioners at a nearby restaurant. But the big news was the vigil, ''24 hours, 7 days a week." Mary Akoury, cochairwoman of the pastoral council, urged people to ''be spiritual and respectful to all."

 

''We know that as we see the doors shut to our beloved parish, our emotions will be all-consuming and we cannot lose our focus as Christians," she said. ''We will show our respect and kindness to those who have treated us so unfairly."

 

Some weren't so sanguine. Debbie Doyle, a parishioner for 15 years, had signed up for a shift last night. ''I'm making the statement that this belongs to me and you can't take me out of my house," she said.

 

At the center of the parish is Father Coyne, who took over during the priest sexual abuse crisis 2 years ago, and turned it from a debt-ridden building with dwindling attendance to a bustling church with full pews and coffers. After the last Mass, he greeted parishioners for more than an hour in a long, informal receiving line next to tables loaded with sandwiches and pastries. There were hugs and handshakes, tears and laughter. Flashbulbs went off as people, some of them parishioners for the church's entire 54 years, recorded the moment.

 

At the last Masses, a member of the parish council read a statement thanking Coyne for creating a family feeling in the parish and for teaching them to ask questions. ''We will no longer blindly follow the mandates set down by the institution," the statement said. ''We now understand that we are the church and we are followers of Christ and not the Archdiocese of Boston."

 

During his final homily, Coyne told parishioners that even if their lawsuit doesn't save St. Albert's, it will make a difference ''as to how the Archdiocese of Boston faces its people in the future." He spoke of the 70 percent of Catholics who don't attend church. ''Our leadership needs to realize that when they are willing to speak to the issues of the day and have honest conversations with Catholic people they can have a positive effect on the 70 percent."

 

Coyne will be assigned to the archdiocese's Emergency Response Team, which sends priests to parishes to fill in on a temporary basis. But he said he hopes to be given his own parish.

 

Yesterday Coyne took the parish's sacramental records to nearby St. Francis Xavier for safe-keeping, visited a parish family, had lunch with one of the church's founding members, and popped in on the prayer vigil. Tomorrow he will pack up his car and head for his family home in West Roxbury. Driving away from St. Albert's, he said, will be like driving away from a funeral.

 

''When you leave the cemetery it's the hardest beause you have to accept the reality of it," he said. ''Driving away knowing I'm not coming back . . . that will be hard." 

Copyright 2004 Globe Newspaper Company.

 

 

Several good letters to the editor came in the follow up edition of The Pilot.

 

"The Pilot Promotes Division"

 

"I was dismayed to read the vitriolic misrepresnetation of the positions of Voice of the Faithful in your August 20th editorial in contrast to the fair and balanced news article."

 

"We do not reject our archbishop; on the contrary, we want him to succeed and offer our cooperation, which is rejected."

 

"It seems to me that it is not VOTF that is "promoting division and encouraging an atmosphere of cynicism against the Church" but rather those critics of VOTF."

 

Then, there was "Too Late"

 

"Thank you for restoring my faith in the Pilot with the editorial on Aug 20th about VOTF group. It comes too late for all the people who were taken in by the VOTF advertisement that was in the August 6th edition..."

 

"You may feel it is not an endorsement but for those of us who beleive we are reading a Catholic newspaper, when you accpet an ad, you are telling your readers you approve of what you advertise."

 

"I totally agree with Paul Nicholson. How do you reconcile page 4 of the Aug 20th Pilot covering the VOTF Mass without an editor's note sending your readers to your editorial on page 12. This is like an article in the secular media"

 

"Please Reconsider Your Policy"

 

"Add my protest to Paul Nicholson's, against the Pilot's publishing VOTF's advertisement for its Boston Common event.

 

"...your response below his letter "An advertisement in the Pilot does not imply an endorsement of an event or a group" expresses insensitivity. You should realize that what you mean to imply may differ from what we readers will infer from the context and that scandal can be the result. Specifically, if advertisements for dissenting groups appear in our local Catholic newspaper it gives us the impression that the archdiocese values advertising dollars over principles such as preserving unity in the Church. "