National Structural Change Working Group of VOTF
is working on several projects that we hope will bear
fruit in the new year. They include the Parish Pastoral
Council (PPC) survey, and a primer on church structure.
The PPC questionnaire was sent out to the entire VOTF
e-mail list during the month of November 2003. Although
there was some initial confusion about who should fill
out the questionnaire, everyone who received a questionnaire
is invited to respond in this first phase of the PPC
survey. We hope to use the results of the survey to
learn what faithful Catholics know about their PPCs,
and we are happy to receive multiple responses from
results of the PPC survey will be tabulated and analyzed
during the new year, and will be shared with the membership
of VOTF. We will use the results to guide us in our
efforts to support active, collaborative, effective
and representative Pastoral Councils, in every parish
across the US. We plan similar surveys in the future
on Finance Councils and Safety Committees.
part of our effort to provide educational support and
resources for the lay faithful, the working group has
prepared a presentation entitled "Organizational Structure
of the Catholic Church, a Primer." This primer on church
structure was promised in the Structural Change Statement
approved by the VOTF Representative Council last February.
We hope that it will provide a clearer understanding
of how our church functions as a human institution,
and suggest opportunities for more active and meaningful
involvement of the lay faithful in the life of the church.
a direct result of SCWG work, the Hingham, MA VOTF affiliate
formed a task force that recently completed a draft
document on parish pastoral councils. The Hingham group
worked closely with National SCWG to develop their recommendations.
Not surprisingly, several other groups in the Boston
area and around the country are working on similar projects.
Structural Change Network address is http://groups.yahoo.com/group/SCN_VOTF/.
Interested readers can view the homepage of the network,
as well as find some information about the Hingham draft
document there, if you are an SCN member. In order to
post and read the messages and read uploaded files,
you must receive an invitation to actually join the
SCN. To request an invitation, people should send a
message to SCN_Moderator@yahoo.com.
Submitted by Margaret Roylance
On Friday, December 19, 2003, three representatives
(Pat Gomez, Elia Marnik and Kathy Mullaney) from the
VOTF Protecting Our Children Working Group met with
Archdiocese of Boston Deacon Anthony Rizzutto and his
assistant, Bob Kelley, of the Child Advocacy, Implementation,
and Oversight Ministry. This office was created two
years ago in response to the abuse crisis. It is diocese-specific.
This was an initial discussion between VOTF and the
RCAB. We had a cordial, ninety minute meeting during
which it became clear that this is a natural link between
VOTF and the RCAB.
identified several areas of mutual agreement, such as,
the need for Parish Safety Committees or Parish Safe
Environment Programs as well as lay involvement in the
decision-making process regarding the implementation
of the "Talking About Touching" program, which is the
RCAB's excellent but controversial education program
instituted in grades K-3 in diocesan parochial schools.
The Program will be implemented in parish Religious
Education classes as soon as possible. We discussed
the almost impossible task of instituting something
of this magnitude and divisiveness without sufficient
support for parishes, especially directors of religious
education and catechetical teachers. Success will depend
on collaboration between parishes and diocese and ongoing
dialogue. As reported after the first meeting with Bishop
Sean O'Malley on November 19, 2003, VOTF will continue
dialogue towards mutual collaboration with Deacon Rizzutto
on the implementation and oversight of Child Safety
Programs in parishes and schools.
also discussed the implementation of the Recommendations
of the Cardinal's Commission. We were reminded that
this Commission did not submit policies, merely recommendations.
One of POC's goals is to monitor child protection policies
within the Church. Though advised that the Church "measures
effective decision-making in terms of centuries," the
laity do not have centuries to wait for changes that
will ensure the protection of our children. We look
forward to continuing our dialogue and focusing on our
mutual concern for the children in our parishes.
Submitted by Kathy Mullaney
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