Keep the Faith, Change the Church.

VOTF Approach to Reforming Church Structure

To move towards the vision of the Second Vatican Council, we believe that it is vitally important for the faithful of each parish and diocese engage in and support the formation and actions of Pastoral and Finance Councils and Safety Committees. We must empower the laity to protect our children and all the people of God.

We seek to achieve this goal through prayer, dialogue, and education involving clergy and laity. Our approach is to work from the parish level upwards because we recognize that it is on the level of the parish and in the context of parochial norms that our children have been grievously injured. We believe that if we can make our local faith communities models of consultation and openness, analogous changes will follow at higher levels.

Since the election of Pope Francis, we also seek to match at the local level the openness and collegiality he has called for and endorses with open, free discussions at Synods in Rome.  Among his many exhortations to listen to the voices of the laity, the pope has said, "We should not even think, therefore, that ‘thinking with the church’ means only thinking with the hierarchy of the Church.” (For additional quotes, see Church Governance; to understand church structure, see the Primer on Organizational Structure.)

We strive to initiate similar open and free discussions in our parishes and dioceses, using both the instruments already codified in Church canons and new avenues for lay input.

At the parish level VOTF:

  1. Emphasizes lay involvement as a starting point crucial to the health of the parish and of the Church as a whole.
  2. Works to enhance education on the rights and responsibilities of the laity and clergy, and provides educational support and resources such as a primer on Church structure.
  3. Works to empower active, collaborative, effective, and representative Pastoral Councils, Finance Councils, and Safety Committees in every parish.
  4. Supports Parish Pastoral Councils (PPCs) by providing resources for their formation and sample PPC foundation documents (Parish A - PPC Constitution & BylawsParish B - PPC ConstitutionParish C - PPC Constitution & BylawsParish D - PPC Constitution & Bylaws)
  5. Works vigorously for immediate, meaningful lay consultation in the process of pastoral selection.

At the diocesan level VOTF:

  1. Works to empower and support active, collaborative, effective, and representative Diocesan Pastoral Councils, Finance Councils, and Safety Committees in every diocese (Sample Diocesan Guidelines).
  2. Works to create and support Pastoral Councils, Finance Councils, and Safety Committees on intermediate levels, such as vicariate and region, if the diocese is so divided.
  3. Works vigorously for immediate, meaningful lay consultation in the process of pastoral selection.
  4. Seeks more meaningful lay input into the selection of bishops.