Keep the Faith, Change the Church.

Movement of Catholics Motivated by Clergy Sexual Abuse Scandal Gathers for 2014 Assembly in Harford, April 5

BOSTON, Mass., Feb. 26, 2014 – Voice of the Faithful®, a movement of Catholics started in 2002 at the height of the Boston, Mass., clergy sexual abuse scandal, will hold its “2014 Assembly: Turning Talk into Action” on Saturday, April 5, from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., at the Connecticut Convention Center, Hartford. Registration is $80 per person, and lunch is included.

Guest speakers will be John L. Allen, Jr., and Fr. Thomas Reese. Allen, associate editor for Catholic news and analysis at The Boston Globe and founder of the Vatican beat for National Catholic Reporter, will offer “Perspectives on Pope Francis and a Climate of Change.” Fr. Reese, National Catholic Reporter’s senior analyst, former associate editor of America magazine and author of The Vatican: The Politics and Organization of the Catholic Church, will discuss “Jesuit Spirituality.”

Six afternoon workshops, each presented twice, will help participants “turn talk into action”:

Parish Level Financial Accountability: Tools for Securing Collections – What simple steps can be taken to secure Sunday collections from basket to bank and all points in between?

Diocesan Level Financial Accountability: The Montana Hustle Case Study – How one Parish Finance Council doggedly pursued their bishop after their pastor misused funds and how new tools VOTF is developing will help monitor a diocese’s finances.

Clericalism -- What is clericalism and how are the signs recognized? Participants will learn how this primary obstruction to collegial lay participation in the Church could be removed.

Priestless Parishes -- There IS An Answer – How can the doors to optional celibacy be opened for a priesthood embracing the celibate and the married, so availability of the Eucharist is ensured?

Female Voices -- How can women change the equation in a Church that too often positions them only in a mother or helper role? Today’s realities and future potential will be discussed with four women who serve as pastoral associates and in ministry positions.

Survivor Support: Spirituality & Trauma – Despite sexual trauma and clergy betrayal that leave scars that may involve rejecting church hierarchy and structure, the need for non-clerical spirituality continues, and Fr. Thomas Doyle will explore ways of healing and fulfillment.

An expert panel also will discuss Pathways to Healing and Reform, ways in which participants might help restore the Church. Panel members will include Fr. James Connell, canon lawyer and retired pastor who helped found Catholic Whistleblowers; Prof. Thomas Porter, trial lawyer, mediator, Methodist minister and teacher of restorative justice in Boston University’s School of Theology; and William Casey, coordinator of a restorative justice program at the Northern Virginia Mediation Service and former VOTF board chair.

Interested individuals may register online, download a printable registration form, make hotel reservations or get more information at www.votf.org.

Voice of the Faithful®: Voice of the Faithful® is a worldwide movement of faithful Roman Catholics working to support survivors of clergy sexual abuse, support priests of integrity and increase the laity’s role in governance and guidance of the Church. More information is at www.votf.org.

Contact: Nick Ingala, 781-559-3360, nickingala@votf.org