Keep the Faith, Change the Church.

2018 Conference -- Progress and Promise in Providence

And Now, the News ...

Voice of the Faithful's 2018 Conference was held Saturday, Oct. 6, at the Marriott Hotel in Providence, Rhode Island, to rave reviews.

About 160 VOTF members and interested Catholics—

Listened to three moving and meaningful presentations from featured speakers (Villanova theologian Massimo Faggioli, at left, spoke during the conference's morning sessions).

Heard highlights of VOTF's Finance Working Groups 2018 review of U.S. dioceses' online financial transparency.

Learned the benefits of VOTF's Broken Vessel™ Healing Circles in the Church's recovery from clergy abuse.

Took part in listening sessions to compile in conversations with colleagues their reactions to increasing anger over clergy abuse.

The Rest of the Story ...

Watch this space, where we will soon post additional information from the conference, as well as videos of the major presentations, and photos from what was a most enriching day for everyone involved. As starters, you can see summaries of the Massimo Faggioli and the Marie Collins speeches on the Speakers Page; we'll have the others posted there soon.

Opening remarks and media commentary

While we are putting the finishing touches on the video of the speaker presentations during our conference, we want to share with you excerpts from opening remarks at the conference from Voice of the Faithful President May Pat Fox —

Good Morning,

Thank you for attending the 2018 VOTF Conference: Progress and Promise, and for supporting Voice of the Faithful ...

Progress and Promise―it is up to us―the laity―to hold the hierarchy accountable! It is not enough that we find out who the perpetrators and who enabled them―we must make sure that they are held responsible!

Some thought it could not get worse than 2002. Surely, once The Boston Globe reported on the abuse crisis, once it was out in the open, it would stop and bishops would stop moving abusive priests around. But, no, we find ourselves at another earth-shattering moment. With the Pennsylvania grand jury report and the revelations concerning Theodore McCarrick, the rest of the country, and in many respects the world, are coming to understand that the sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests is not just a problem in the Northeast.

I live in the Washington, D.C., area―the revelations about McCarrick were shocking to most. He was that charming, leprechaun-looking priest that many knew and loved. The fact that so many in the hierarchy knew about his abusive behavior but we did not was almost unfathomable. Horror and betrayal is felt by so many in Washington, and I am sure in the other places he served.

And the Pennsylvania grand jury report―some ask, what is different about it? In my opinion it is that it is so detailed and so organized. When you read it, you say to yourself, “How can someone have this letter from the pastor of the parish about a priest that is abusing children, letters from parents and notes about meetings with the priest, and make a decision to send the priest to rehab for a month and then reassign him to another parish? I wonder how a bishop could be so de-sensitized when reading something like this. Shouldn’t it seem just as outrageous to him as it does to me?”

As a result of the Pennsylvania grand jury report, 13 other states have launched investigations and others are looking at how they can launch their own investigations. I honestly believe that all these states will issue reports that are as horrific as Pennsylvania. We will be reading report after report for many years to come. If some version of the Church is to survive, then the way the child abuse crisis is being handled must change, and abusive priests and their enablers must be held accountable.

Waiting to see if they are all caught in these civil investigations is not the answer. The Church must take action to correct the situation NOW and remove the bishops that have moved these priests around. The revelations about McCarrick tell us that someone in the Church knows who they are―they don’t need the civil authorities to tell them.

Our trust is broken. We have been betrayed, and we are angry and frustrated and we want action. We want our voices heard. For the survival of our Church, our voices need to be heard.

As if making Mary Pat's point, The Boston Globe published on its website the weekend of VOTF's conference a page of links to its recent opinion pieces on "What is Next for the Catholic Church." Four of the six articles on that webpage show how our voices are needed in every area of the Church:

2018 Conference: Some News Coverage

Voice of the Faithful convenes to discuss church reform in abuse, finances
“While held amidst crisis, the date for the Voice of the Faithful conference here (Providence, R.I.) Oct. 6 couldn't have been better. ‘Who knew how timely this would be?’ Mary Pat Fox, the group's president, said in welcoming some 300 participants. Voice of the Faithful, founded in 2002 in the wake of the Boston Archdiocese sex abuse scandal disclosures, is dedicated to reforming the church's response to that issue as well as to finances. ‘We have found ourselves in another Earth-shattering moment,’ said Fox, noting the onslaught of news about sex abuse and cover-ups revealed this year in Chile, via the Pennsylvania grand jury report, and accusations lodged against former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. ‘Our trust is broken. We have been betrayed,’ she said.” By Peter Feuerherd, National Catholic Reporter

Providence Diocese in top half of dioceses in report on financial transparency
A Roman Catholic group that seeks accountability within the church gathered in Providence Saturday (Oct. 6) and released a score sheet on the financial transparency of every Catholic diocese in the United States. Voice of the Faithful, a non-clergy organization formed in 2002 after news reports on widespread sex abuse in the Diocese of Boston, released its second annual report on financial transparency at a conference that drew about 150 members. The organization again rated 177 Catholic dioceses based on availability of information ranging from audited financial statements to contact information for each diocesan business office and the posting of parish financial guidelines.” By Mark Reynolds, Oct. 6, 2018, Providence Journal

Catholic bishops promising to fix sex abuse problem face cover-up accusations
“As Catholic bishops try to reassure the flock that the church is finally confronting the scourge of sexual abuse by priests, it has fallen to Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, the president of the American bishops conference, to lead the effort. ‘I have no illusions about the degree to which trust in the bishops has been damaged by these past sins and failures,’ said Cardinal DiNardo, in one of the many statements he has issued on sexual abuse in recent weeks. ‘It will take work to rebuild that trust.’” By Laurie Goodstein, The New York Times

Video of Speaker Presentations at 2018 Conference

Our gratitude to Vincent Rocchio, who filmed and donated all videos