LCWR Wraps Up Its 2014 Assembly

The Leadership Conference of Women Religious concluded its 2014 Annual Assembly on Aug. 15.

Click here to read LCWR's wrap-up news release, "Leadership Conference of Women Religious Assembly Examines Key Challenges and Opportunities."

Voice of the Faithful's support for our sisters is unflagging.

Zero Tolerance?

The U.S. bishops’ zero tolerance policy for clergy sexual abuse, established with the 2002 Dallas Charter, remains an open question for Voice of the Faithful®. Among the reasons for our concern: (1) Minnesota Public Radio reports St. Paul-Minneapolis Archbishop John Nienstedt made false statements under oath about his knowledge of a priest left for years in ministry after being credibly accused of sexual abuse. (2) Great Falls-Billings (MT) Bishop Michael Warfel returned a priest to ministry although a civil lawsuit against the diocese names this priest as one of the abusers the diocese failed to remove. (3) A priest in the Fresno (CA) diocese reportedly was named a pastor after a civil case declared him guilty of child sex abuse—he was even put in charge of a parish school. (4) Kansas City-St. Joseph Bishop Robert Finn, previously convicted of failing to report suspected child abuse, attends USCCB semi-annual meetings with no hint of sanctions for his failures. Indeed, an arbitrator ruling recently against the KC diocese said "this Diocese as presently constituted will not mend its ways." 

In February, VOTF asked Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, USCCB president, about the specific case in Montana and whether Bishop Warfel’s actions conformed to the Dallas Charter. Copies went to the chair of the National Review Board, the director of the Office of Child and Youth Protection, and the Apostolic Nuncio to the U.S.

We received no answer.

We sent a follow-up letter (and copies) in April asking, again, why a priest in Montana still identified in a lawsuit as an abuser would be returned to ministry. Has “zero tolerance” been abandoned? We received no answer.

Yet the bishops claim in their semi-annual meetings that they are doing better than ever at addressing the problem of child predators in the Church. The gap between fact and "PR" looms large. So we ask again: Why are bishops not adhering to zero tolerance and why are they facing no penalties?

Sociologists Address VOTF Meeting

Dr. Patricia Ewick, professor of sociology at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts, and Dr. Marc Steinberg, professor of sociology at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, recently shared some reflections on the work they have done studying VOTF over the last seven years. Both sociologists addressed an audience of VOTF members. Dr. Ewick's remarks are featured in the July 18 issue of VOTF's twice-montly e-newsletter In the Vineyard, and Dr. Steinberg's remarks are featrued in the Aug. 1 issue.

Click here to read excerpts from Dr. Ewick's remarks.

Click here to read excerpts from Dr. Steinberg's remarks.

Bridgeport VOTF Will Take Part in Diocesan Synod

Voice of the Faithful® in the Diocese of Bridgeport, Connecticut, in an extension of its contacts with Bishop Frank Caggiano, will send delegates to the diocesan synod to begin this fall and run through the diocese's next fiscal year. An article announcing the synod, which appeared in the July 15 Darien Times, said, "The process has already begun, with parishes and schools throughout Fairfield County that belong to the diocese choosing delegates to represent them during the spring ... Caggiano said approximately 300 to 400 delegates have been chosen and there will also be a group of young people who will parallel the synod. Other groups represented will include immigrants, ethnic groups and Voice of the Faithful. Caggiano broke the Diocese of Bridgeport's long-standing policy of rejecting Voice of the Faithful since its inception ... Diocese communications director Brian Wallace told The Darien Times earlier this year that 'one of the first things Bishop Caggiano did after arriving here was to reach out to the Voice of the Faithful, and in four months he has had several conversations with the VOTF leadership.'"

Click here to read the entire article in The Darien Times.

Vatican Defrocks Archbishop Accused of Sexual Abuse

Voice of the Faithful® hopes the Vatican's laicization of former archbishop Jozef Wesolowski signals a new, uncompromising commitment to holding hierarchy involved in sexal abuse of minors accountable for their actions. The move seems to demonstrate Pope Francis' resolve in promoting "zero tolerance" for clergy sexual abuse --

National Catholic Reporter reported on June 27 that, “The Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has ordered the laicization of an archbishop-ambassador accused of paying for sex with minors.

Click here to read the rest of this story.

Clergy Sexual Abuse Causes Broad, Deep Suffering -- Post Your Comments on Our Lamentation Wall

Catholics have been engulfed in ongoing revelations about the horrid sex abuse of children by clergy for more than a decade. The range of emotional responses has included revulsion, confusion, fear, anger, and distress. Victims/survivors and their families have been faced with revisiting deep wounds and traumatic memories.

At the VOTF 10th Year Conference in 2012, we introduced a Lamentation Wall where attendees could post personal lamentations in response to the irrevocable harm, unhealed wounds, and resistance to Church reform that have evolved from the sexual abuse crisis. Lamentations are a traditional response in Scripture, evoked by prophets who call the community to “prayers of lamentation” in the face of immeasurable suffering and loss.

We are continuing the Lamentation Wall here. Just use the link at left to go to our Lamentation Wall webpage or click here to post your personal lament.

An Open Letter from the People of God to U.S. Bishops

Voice of the Faithful® encourages members to join with FutureChurch supporters and ask U.S. bishops to open a dialogue "about restoring our early traditions of married and celibate priests and male and female deacons."

In an open letter to U.S. bishops, FutureChurch urges bishops "to discern the needs of all the people of God and to listen to Pope Francis' call for courage in realizing reforms that will bring new vitality to Eucharistic communities."

You can join this effort by clicking here to send your bishop a copy of the letter.

We need to shout loudly for our bishops to hear our Spirit-filled voices and help us change the Church.