VOTF had its beginnings if the basement of St. John the Evangelist Church in Wellesley, Massachusetts. Small gatherings of 25 to 30 people met there in “listening sessions” to speak of their heartbreak and outrage over revelations that priest sex abusers had preyed upon our children and that members of the Church hierarchy had—through both actions and inactions—enabled and covered up those crimes.
These small gatherings grew each week, from dozens to a few hundred, from crowds of 700 in Spring 2002 into a movement and organization that by 2004 numbered thousands. Today VOTF has more than 30,000 members in the United States and other countries. Support for survivors and a desire to hold accountable those who enabled sex abuse by the clergy remain animating forces even as we address the institutional reforms needed to ensure that such scandals do not occur again.
Here is an excerpt from one of VOTF’s earliest reports, written by a founder who helped to write the words that defined our mission and goals:
The Voice of the Faithful Story
By Peggie Thorp, Founding Member, Voice of the Faithful
When the faithful speak, the faithful listen. And so it has been for these months of our fleeting infancy and explosive growth. From 25 people gathered on a January Monday evening at St. John the Evangelist church in Wellesley, Massachusetts, to standing-room-only crowds exceeding 700 all spring, to tens of thousands of members today throughout the world, the group that has become Voice of the Faithful has shared our outrage, pain, deep love of Church, and commitment to act. Mainstream Catholics are talking as never before—to each other and to Church leadership. …
This crisis has brought faithful Catholics all over the world to their feet—first by ones and twos, and now by the thousands. … Our mission is nourished by each other as we continue a Spirit-driven dialogue toward a stronger Catholic Church. Good hearts and discerning minds are determined that the voice of the laity will never be silent again.