What Do You Think?
This month we ask readers to consider the thoughts of
Thomas P.Rausch, S.J., excerpted from America magazine
by Paul Kendrick co-founder of VOTF Maine. Paul's letter
to VOTF president Jim Post and others precedes the America
excerpt. Please send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
from Paul Kendrick: As you know, Bishop Joseph
Gerry will not allow certain VOTF affiliates in Maine
to hold meetings on Church property. I am beginning
to think, "So what?"
of the people who attended VOTF meetings in the past
just aren't coming anymore. It's not that they don't
want to be a part of the VOTF mission - they just don't
want to go to meetings. I'm one of them. Weekly e-mail
updates would better serve our purpose.
need to stop demanding "permission" to gather in church
basements under the VOTF banner. Instead, we need to
get busy. If we truly want to participate in the "Church
of the 21st Century," there is much to be done now.
Using the principles of Catholic social teaching as
our "conscience," we have a unique opportunity to awaken
our fellow Catholics to the true mission of our church.
If we are calling for more "lay participation," then
let it begin with us.
and accountability for victims and survivors must not
only be our first priority, but must color everything
we do and stand for. We must engage ourselves in personal
contact with victims and their families. Being in the
presence of innocent suffering will change our hearts
and minds. We must speak on their behalf whenever and
wherever we are called to do so. We must not be afraid.
We must not care what others say and think.
is time for us to issue a public statement telling Bishop
Gerry that his banning policy has no effect on us. VOTF
members are already meeting on Church property as concerned
Catholics actively engaged in social justice missions.
poor are the Church. What can we do today to help fulfill
this mission? Let our fellow parishioners come to know
us as the most active people in our parish. Let's set
a policy among ourselves of "Attraction not Promotion,"
aimed not at the bishop and his lieutenants, but rather
towards our fellow Catholics and parish priests.
have come to the conclusion that whether or not Joseph
Gerry "allows" us to meet on Church property no longer
matters. In fact, I am more convinced than ever that
by continuing to object to Gerry's actions, we are only
fueling the same power and arrogance that we speak so
loudly against. Each time Gerry reiterates his banning
policy, he drives his thumb into us just a little bit
harder. This is reminiscent of our childhoods, as when
a parent or a teacher abruptly dismissed our good intentions.
By caring about the bannings, we remain children. We
remain the ones who are told what to do. Instead, we
must rise up, become adults, rejoice in our Baptism
and most importantly, fully participate in our individual
parishes. Then, we are no longer banned. We are engaged
in helping our Church return to it's true mission. We
become a "Voice" in our parishes. Jim, your help in
speaking as a strong national VOTF presence assures
that our message remains clear and forceful.
"Particularly lacking is a realistic vision of how VOTF
might work with bishops and local churches, given the
nervousness of hierarchy and pastors. There are at least
three models of how V.O.T.F. might contribute in the
practical order to the renewal of church structures.
One sees V.O.T.F. as a structure parallel to that of
the diocese, a second understands it as an advocacy
or pressure group, and a third seeks to incorporate
V.O.T.F. members at all levels of the life of the local
church." (Thomas P. Rausch, S.J., is the T. Marie
Chilton Professor of Catholic Theology at Loyola Marymount
University, Los Angeles, Calif. His latest book is Who
Is Jesus? An Introduction to Christology (Liturgical
"What Do You Think?" question: What model for
VOTF will best suit our Church? Respond to email@example.com.
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