VOTF and Bishops Speak
VOTF president Jim Post
indicator of VOTF's progress in establishing an identity
and presence in the life of the Catholic Church is the
willingness of bishops to speak with us. Since January,
local VOTF members have met with bishops in at least
20 dioceses from Boston, Massachusetts to Puget Sound,
to these diocesan efforts, there is a growing national
dialogue beginning to develop between VOTF leaders and
a number of nationally prominent bishops.
Friday, March 28th, VOTF secretary Cathy Fallon and
I attended a speech by Bishop Donald Wuerl of Pittsburgh
at a conference of "Governance, Accountability, and
the Future of the Church." The gathering was sponsored
by St. Thomas More Chapel at Yale University. Afterward,
I spoke with Bishop Wuerhl who expressed an interest
in knowing how "'Voice' is doing?".
Friday, April 4, 2003, I spoke with Archbishop Daniel
Pilarczyk, head of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. This
meeting took place in Dayton, Ohio, the morning after
Dayton VOTF held a very successful inaugural ("launch")
meeting. In my time with Archbishop Pilarczyk, he encouraged
VOTF to develop various "dialogue models" that would
enable bishops, survivors, priests, and laity to converse
in less conflicted circumstances.
and national dialogue between bishops and the laity
is fundamental in a Church that is both local and universal.
After all, our concerns for survivors, priests, and
laity are shared concerns and shared responsibilities.
By articulating these concerns regularly in a mutually
respectful environment, our Church - laity and clergy
- invigorates the gospel values we cherish.
VOTF Board of Trustees president Dr. Jim Muller
twenty leaders of the hierarchy, including Cardinal
George of Chicago, leader of one of the largest archdioceses
in the nation, have taken the time to meet with leaders
of VOTF to learn about the nature of the organization
and to give their thoughts on how it can develop in
a positive manner. These leaders sanctify the process
by engaging loyal faithful who are on a spiritual quest
to help a Church in crisis. They are true leaders of
the Church, following the role of Christ, and deserve
the support of all Catholics. They stand in sharp contrast
to eight diocesan leaders who have chosen to ban VOTF
from meeting on church property. They did so without
meeting with VOTF leaders to gain a complete understanding
of what they are banning nor have they made the effort
to try to counsel supposedly misguided faithful and
correct the errors they believe VOTF is making. Their
acts reflect the same abuse of power that led to the
cover-up of crimes of sexual abuse.
is my belief that most leaders in the hierarchy seek
to work cooperatively with the faithful laity who make
up VOTF. Hence we expect the number of positive dialogues
to increase steadily. I urge VOTF leaders to acquaint
themselves with the positive discussions that have taken
place, and request a series of meetings with their respective
bishops. A process of discernment, in communion with
inclusive members of the hierarchy, will lead to a better
VOTF and a stronger church. In this light, I submit
a brief summary of my meeting with Cardinal George of
October 18, 2002, Dr. Jim Post, president of VOTF sent
a letter to all US Bishops, Archbishops and Cardinals
requesting their thoughts on VOTF. Cardinal George replied
with a two-page letter discussing his concerns. Since
I would be in Chicago in March for an American College
of Cardiology meeting, I met with Chicago VOTF leaders.
Steve Shimek, leader of Chicago VOTF, arranged for me
to have a private meeting with the Cardinal.
in the Cardinal's office, our scheduled one-hour meeting
lasted for two hours, covered many issues and permitted
a unique opportunity to articulate a clearer understanding
of VOTF and our roots, our collective love for the Church
and our commitment to the baptismal call for full participation
in the life of our Church. Cardinal George discussed
candidly his own concerns as well as prospects for continued
ended our substantive and cordial conversation with
a brief prayer.
overall impression of the meeting is that it was very
valuable, and I hope might become a model replicated
throughout the country. The wise and holy leadership
shown by Cardinal George on the issues is in sharp contrast
to the behavior of a handful of bishops committed to
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