Priests' Support Working Group
Support Priests Working Group made a presentation at
the March Representative Council Meeting. Highlights
of our work include a report on SOUNDING BOARDS. Sounding
Boards are small informal gatherings of an equal number
of clergy and laity, initially formed to determine how
we can be most effective in our support of priests in
their ministry. It is increasingly apparent that our
support must be mutual, and that providing opportunities
to relate to each other in new ways will encourage collaboration
and help to rebuild trust in the church. We need our
priests as much as they need us--to stand up for each
other and to speak the truth with compassion.
summary of the past two Sounding Boards will be posted
on the VOTF website along with a suggested agenda.
Winchester, MA Area VOTF has produced an extensive survey
of priests, which is an excellent tool not only for
discussion purposes but for use in other dioceses. http://www.votfwinchester.org/supportingpriests.html
coordinate and communicate efforts on behalf of Goal
#2 from all Parish Voice Affiliates, and welcome your
Contacts: Pat McNulty (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Svea Fraser (email@example.com)
Submitted by Jane Ruhmkorff and Nan Fisher
first public event, the Liturgy of Hope, was celebrated
on February 26th at Bellarmine Chapel. Approximately
50 people gathered. We asked for forgiveness for our
own part in not knowing what was happening and not speaking
up. We gave thanks for the many priests of integrity,
especially the four priests who participated in or attended
the service. We heard a moving and revealing story from
a member of the group who is, in his own words, a former
victim of abuse, but now a survivor because "as a survivor,
I can choose to do something." In prayerful silence
we wrote petitions and if we desired that they be read
aloud during the service, placed them in a basket so
designated. Finally, we recited the Creed together in
unity of faith.
particularly powerful moment for many of those in attendance
was hearing passages from Vatican II documents and Canon
law that extol the preeminence of the laity and their
rights and responsibilities in participating in matters
of church governance. It was refreshing and empowering
to hear these words from an article of Canon Law: "In
accord with the knowledge, competence, and preeminence
which they possess, the Christian Faithful have the
right, and even at times a duty, to manifest to the
sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain
to the good of the church..."
liturgy coincided with the one-year anniversary of Voice
of the Faithful's beginning in Boston. Part of Cincinnati
VOTF's intention for this Liturgy was to mark the beginning
of hope and healing for Catholics in the Cincinnati
area. Our desire is that, from this point forward, we
move ahead with the kind of adult, honest communication
and collaboration that is needed to transform this dark
night of the Church's history into a new day - a day
of God's people fully alive and active in their vocation
as the Christian Faithful.
On February 13, 2003, VOTF member Ana-María Rizzuto,
M.D. gave a lecture on "The Crisis of the Catholic Church
in the USA: The Lay Boston Initiative in Response to
the Sexual Abuse by Clergy," in Córdoba, Argentina.
conference was organized by a group of lay people and
sponsored by the dean of the School of Philosophy of
the Catholic University of Córdoba. Attendance was by
invitation. One-hundred thirty people came, an extraordinary
number, because it was summer in Argentina and the university
offered only a few summer courses, and many local people
were out of town. The auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese
of Córdoba as well as many priests attended.
placed the crisis in the context of a church that has
not implemented the vision of Vatican II for the people
of God and the laity. She presented in chronological
order the development of the abuse and described the
behavior of the American bishops as well as the formation
of mutual support organizations by and for the abused.
She described the creation of VOTF and the need for
the participation of the laity at all levels of the
institutional church. Finally, she analyzed the causes
of the crisis and concluded with a quotation from Vatican
II enjoining the laity to become active in the Church
and in the world.
lecture was very well received. It will be posted at
the website of the Catholic University of Córdoba for
easy access in the future. The lecture was given in
Spanish and will be posted in Spanish.
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