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Contact: Suzanne Morse 617-680-2131, smorse@votf.org

Voice of the Faithful Calls on Bishops to Examine Their Consciences During Lent in America Magazine Advertisement

Newton, Mass. – March 14, 2005 – In a full-page advertisement in America Magazine, leaders of Voice of the Faithful are calling on the Bishops to examine their consciences during the Lenten season. The organization of lay Catholics took out the advertisement to promote healing during Lent and in reaction to indications that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is backsliding on its own commitment to protecting children. A copy of the advertisement can be viewed at Voice of the Faithful’s website at www.votf.org.

Members of Voice of the Faithful are reacting to recent decisions by the Bishops, including proposed revisions to the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, that would weaken its provisions and the vote in November to use self-audits to determine the Bishops’ compliance with the implementation of the child safety protection procedures. Additionally, the advertisement expresses the organization’s concern regarding the financial condition of many Catholic dioceses across the country.

The following is the text of the letter, which was sent to all U.S. Bishops:

“Dear Bishops of the United States:

The Catholic Church in the United States remains in a state of turmoil despite attempts to assign the clergy sexual abuse crisis to “history.”

In this holy season of Lent, we hear Scripture’s call to reform our lives, to ponder Jesus’ sacrifice, and to dwell on repentance, reparation and atonement. In this spirit, Voice of the Faithful asks the U.S. Bishops, individually and collectively, to look deep into their hearts for the courage to face their responsibility for the Church’s current crisis.

In recent months, Catholics have seen the Archbishop of Cincinnati exposed as concealing knowledge of and transferring an abusive priest; the Archbishop of Seattle’s dismissal of a lay review board; and other Bishops attempting to weaken the commitments of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.

Legal settlements totaling many millions of dollars have been announced in several dioceses – some have filed for bankruptcy protection; parishes are being closed; the Church’s work is suffering; and Catholic community is at risk.

Notoriously abusive priests have been convicted of raping young people. Documents prove that Bishops failed to remove those priests from service and yet these Bishops continue to lead American dioceses.

We believe that the office of the Bishop must be restored to its place of respect and dignity in the Church. We believe that the Church will not heal until profound acts of conscience are demonstrated by our Bishops. As we near Holy Week, we believe there must be a soul searching that effects positive actions for the Church.

We ask - what can you as a Bishop do that will make a difference in these times of crisis? What will make reparation, repentance and atonement true in our day? We ask, from our hearts, that our Bishops join us in a spiritual pilgrimage that could, we pray, lead us through crisis to a resurrection of trust worthy of our Redeemer’s sacrifice.

Let Holy Week be “the” week.


Voice of the Faithful


About Voice of the Faithful: Voice of the Faithful (VOTF) is a worldwide movement of concerned mainstream Catholics formed in response to the clergy sexual abuse crisis. The group's mission is to provide a prayerful voice, attentive to the Spirit, through which the Faithful can actively participate in the governance and guidance of the Catholic Church. Its goals are to support victim/survivors of abuse, support priests of integrity, and shape structural change within the Catholic Church in full accordance and harmony with Church teaching. VOTF’s supporting membership exceeds 30,000 registered persons from 50 U.S. states, 39 countries and 210 Parish Voice affiliates throughout the world.



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Mission Statement

To provide a prayerful voice, attentive to the Spirit, through which the Faithful can actively participate in the governance and guidance of the Catholic Church.


Our Goals

1. To support survivors of clergy sexual abuse.

2. To support priests of integrity

3.To shape structural change within the Catholic Church.

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