VOTF’s mission and three goals commit us to working within the Church. We do not seek to redefine dogma; we do not seek to create an alternative church. But our mission and goals clearly do not call for the Church to remain “the same.”
The Church of “the same” has fostered a climate where sexual abuse of our children can proceed unchecked by accountability; where the decisions of bishops to protect the abusers and forsake the abused has caused great human suffering and has sapped the moral authority of the Church; where the mechanisms that should have checked this abuse are not open and transparent to the People of God; and where the divide between clergy and laity impoverishes our efforts to live out the mission of Christ within the world.
To address these excesses, to renew and reform the Church we love, we believe that participation of the laity is essential.
- We believe that the laity have the graced dignity, intelligence, responsibility and obligation to cooperate in Church governance in a meaningful way,according to the norm of canon law (cf. Canon 129).
- We believe that meaningful lay participation is the only way to correct the profound flaws that have been revealed in the human institutional life of our Church.
- We believe that the council documents of Vatican II illuminate the pathway for lay involvement in the Church.
- And we urge that the openness and mutual respect advocated by Pope John Paul II in Ut Unum Sint (“That All May Be One”) be the model for meaningful dialog among bishops and laity.
This philosophy is centrist, and it is inclusive. We are committed to providing an open and safe forum for ALL Catholics to freely and respectfully discuss the challenges of our Church, regardless of their views on specific issues.
This inclusiveness commits us to a collaborative and collegial method of operating, and to an organization that develops its actions “from the bottom up,” with attention to all members of the organization and in communion with our Church.
Participating in VOTF requires a commitment to these principles. We seek to model the behavior that we ask from our Church: centered in Christ, open to the gifts of all, inclusive and loving towards all, accountable to all members, and transparent in actions.